People crave meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Everyone wants to love and be loved back. Everyone, including people who see themselves as emotionally unavailable. We all need someone to share our fears with, to hold and talk to when things are not right. Someone to celebrate our victories with, and be a leaning shoulder when things go south. What scares most people off relationships is that what takes you time to build can come crumbling down in a minute. You invest everything in someone, then one day they wake up and decide you are not the one. Or you wake up from your Cinderella dreams and realize you two don’t click at all, and self-guilt makes you try not to date again because you don’t want to hurt any more people.
With millennials, relationships are becoming increasingly difficult to build and maintain. ‘Mtaachana tu’ (you will break up in the end) joke has been normalized. People see you in a committed relationship, and they wonder how you manage that. To them, relationships are short term contracts to satisfy your needs, then lay low for a while till the needs arise again. Men approach relationships from a ‘hit and run’ philosophy. Smash it, and move on to the next one. It is the body count that matters. How many broken hearts you leave behind in the process is none of your business.
Ladies, tired of being victims, have turned into opportunists who grab what they can when they can. Spend as much of his money as you can, so that you are ‘compensated’ when he decides to leave. A Poor Man Should Not Erect, that’s the motto. But is it possible to build a lasting relationship? A relationship where you don’t try to take advantage of each other? Yes, it is possible! It is possible to be in a relationship where you build each other, where you stay for each other through the good and bad times.
Here are five tips on how to build a lasting relationship;
Build yourself first
Most people get into relationships because they are tired of being alone. Societal pressure also works to worsen things. When you are single, all you see are happy couples. You feel tinges of jealousy when you see couples holding hands, doing coffee dates, and crave the same for yourself. The biggest mistake you can make is getting into a relationship because you want to feel how others feel. With time, emptiness will kick in, and all you will see will be happy singles and wish to be them. Prepare yourself before you get into a relationship. Learn to love yourself first before you try loving someone else. Appreciate yourself, learn to see yourself as you would want to be seen by others. When you know your self-worth, it will be easier for your partner to value your presence in their lives.
Work to build the relationship
The lovey dovey excitement of a new relationship eventually fizzles out, and you are faced with the cold reality of keeping the relationship going. The chemistry may be great, but at some point, the relationship will get out of the lab. They say. You have to work to keep it going. Consistently appreciate each other. Seek to understand each other; it is never about who wins arguments. Most of the time, you will realize that none of you was wrong and that you just misunderstood each other. Compliment each other, always. Do picnics. Enjoy each other’s hobbies. Remind yourselves of the first time you met or started dating, it sounds dumb, but it helps reignite the passion of why they fell for you in the first place. Let a friendship blossom out of your love, so that you two have something to lean on when love fades.
Keep it private
When you love someone, you want to stand on top of the tallest building and shout it out. That might not be a good idea. The ‘mtaachana tu’ battalion is out there scavenging for their next victim. You can block out the negative vibes, but some of it will rub out on you. This does not mean you keep your relationship a secret, there’s a difference between the two.
Don’t test your partner’s limits
Relationships are, to some degree, about tolerating each other. You learn to live with the faults. You work on your faults for the relationship to work out. However, do not try to take advantage of your partner. Don’t try to see how much they can take before they snap. Don’t exploit their weaknesses to your advantage.
Don’t listen to relationship advice
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well, here is the thing, some relationship advice can help avoid and also solve some problems. People will tell you the dos and don’ts of a relationship. “Make him breakfast always.” What if he isn’t a breakfast person? You will feel he doesn’t appreciate your morning gesture or he will be taking breakfast just to avoid confrontations. Either way, there is already one unhappy person in that relationship. “Cuddle her always when you go to bed.” What happens in the case that she sleeps spread out like animal skin set out to dry, or in contorted positions, she looks like someone who is about to smuggled out in a suitcase and you cuddling her makes her sleep uncomfortable?
Besides, similar problems might not respond the same way to the same formula. Some people have to take quinine injections for malaria while others just respond to tablets. The same ailment, different treatment methods. Just because the shoe fits does not mean you have to wear it. Choose what advice fits your relationship
Pro tip: always question the intentions of people who give you relationship advice. Not everyone means you well.
Finally, be positive always. It helps a lot, not only in relationships but also in life. A healthy relationship starts with a positive mind. With positivity comes trust. Trust keeps the relationship going.