3 steps to finding a happy, long-term relationship

Find the partner you want and the relationship you deserve with these keys to lasting love.

By Shannon Christie

Meeting your relationship expectations
"Being stubborn and inflexible represents a need that is alive. Compromise is a necessity in a healthy relationship. When someone is acting as a doormat, they have an underdeveloped sense of themselves as an individual, and believe that their views and needs are not important," Herron adds.

Ask yourself if this is the right person for you, or whether you may require more emotional depth than that individual is able (or willing) to offer. "If you need control at all times, then the relationship is not likely to be a happy one," she says. "Even those who love and cherish us the most will hurt our feelings or awaken feelings of insecurity from time to time."

3. Give yourself a reality check
The real dating world can be intimidating, so it can feel much safer to make the depictions of relationships in books, romantic comedies and TV programs your benchmarks for couple behaviour. This makes it easy to dismiss potential partners on the basis of them not living up to a fictional standard.

"In my practice, when I meet someone who holds onto the belief of the 'perfect' partner, they are inevitably single, or soon to be so," says Herron. Seeking a blueprint for maintaining a healthy relationship in popular culture means rejecting real-time reality-based love for an ideal that does not exist. "Unless we have a tolerance for human imperfection, we will not be in a relationship -- at least not a happy one -- for long," says Herron. "Perfection is a myth, and a dangerous one to entertain."

The good news is that none of these obstacles is impossible to overcome, they only require devoting a bit of time to doing a personal inventory. "Not repeating the same patterns over and over takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness," says Herron. "What did we learn in our family of origin? Is this issue representative of our core values? What is it we are trying to control and why? The answers often relate to some very early experiences growing up."

Recognizing your own needs and using your self-knowledge to successfully navigate these hurdles will help you discover your best match and the satisfying long-term relationship you deserve.

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