How To Succeed In Relationships Without Really Trying

Relationships are hard. We run around like chickens with our heads cut off desperately searching for The One, that mythical person who’s supposedly roaming the Universe and is somehow destined to “complete us.” Whatever the fuck that means. Patronizing implications about our spiritual wholeness aside, we still swipe left and right, brave countless dick picks, and tolerate endless bad bar banter trying to find our one little Unicorn amidst the plentiful riffraff of modern society.

And when we do find them, we have to do even more work. Or so say the literally millions of relationship “experts” out there who write all those dumb think pieces about why their marriage has or hasn’t failed yet. You know, kind of like this one.

But what work do you actually ~need~ to do in order to maintain a healthy-ish relationship? Because there are some things you can probably let go of without getting dumped (like shaving your legs in the winter, amirite?), but there are definitely some boxes that should always be checked. Consider these your relationship bread and butter:

Give fewer fucks
If you read nothing else, read this: don’t overanalyze. You don’t have to be the perfect partner all the time. You should be able to make bad jokes, experiment with hairstyles, cause a few fights, and/or talk about your crushes. Yes, I’m serious about that last one. Because if there’s no trust, and if your partner doesn’t appreciate every part of you, or at least acknowledge that every part of you is valid, then they’re probably not the right person for you. And that’s fine. There are plenty of people who will appreciate you, warts and all. Go shack up with them instead. You’re never too old, or too poor, or too unworthy. Promise.

There will be poop
I once dated a guy who chose to believe girls don’t experience basic bodily functions (though he was strangely fine with the fact that we shoot blood out of our vaginas on a monthly basis). He still denied their reality after I intentionally farted on him in an effort to disabuse him of his illusions. Obviously that’s not why the relationship failed, but it does lead into a great relationship metaphor: shit happens. Like, actual shit. If you can’t stomach even the idea of your partner’s leftover toilet aromas, then you guys are straight up doomed. Weird things happen in relationships, like childbirth. Or hemorrhoids. You gotta be able to take the good, the bad, and the ugly if you’re gunna go the distance.

Feel all the feels
We all know that crying sucks and makes your eyes all puffy the next day, but suppressing your emotions can actually make them worse. Seriously, just let your self feel the shitty shit. Sometimes your partner hurts your feelings, no matter how pure their intentions. Sometimes they piss you off like it’s their job and the rent is due. It is ok to hate them for a little bit, because that half hour of hate helps you move on a lot faster. On the flip side – shoutout to all you emotional flagellants out there – it’s ok to let yourself be happy, too. Or scared. Or lazy. All of the feels are, and should be, completely valid. You and your partner don’t always have to agree that they’re warranted, but you do have to acknowledge that they are real and worthy of being felt.

Don’t simmer – just explode
Let me reiterate: holding back your emotions only makes them worse. Anyone who has known me ever can tell you that leaving me to stew when I’m upset will only make things about a million and a half times worse for the poor soul on the other end. I, like many others, have a unique ability to make myself even madder when left alone with an issue. To avoid this, and to save the lives of everyone else around me, I’ve gotten a lot better at articulating my feelings in the moment. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s not pretty, but it’s usually way better to just get it over with. Because most of the time, I’m completely misunderstanding the situation. Or I’m tired/hungry, but more on that below.

Hanger Danger
People, hanger is REAL. If your partner goes from totally normal to completely batshit in less than half an hour, try to remember the last time they ate. Chances are they need a snack, pronto. This also goes for sleep. If there is a grumpy gills in your midst, a good snack or a nice nap (or both) may be what sets your relationship back on track.

Take a fucking break
Even if you’re not hungry and got a full night’s sleep, you should never spend all night arguing over something stupid. And pro tip: pretty much every argument is stupid after midnight. Everyone likes to tell couples not to go to bed angry, but sometimes you really do just need to go to bed and handle it in the morning. Furthermore, taking a break to recollect your thoughts during a fight is also totally legit. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to talk things out with your partner after a few minutes of watching cat videos on your phone in the bathroom.

Take a fucking break
If you or your partner are neither hungry nor sleepy, have tried taking a break and are still at each other’s throats, you probably just need to get laid. This is particularly true for long-term relationships. No really – it’s science. Sex leads to all sorts of neurotransmitter cascades that promote intimacy and bonding, which means a few minutes between the sheets could make you and your partner actually like each other again. Treat it like a reset button, if nothing else.

Vulnerability is the best defense
Being vulnerable is like playing a game of emotional opossum. I’m serious. Just like most predators don’t want to eat something that’s already dead, a good partner won’t want to kick you when you’re down. Rather than bitch at your partner because their shirt is untucked, just acknowledge that you’re upset with them for not putting in the effort you felt was necessary for a decent date night. Tell them when your feelings are hurt. Again, don’t be afraid to cry – it promotes social bonding. And can make your partner feel like a total jerk. Basically a win-win.

When all else fails, get some Nerf guns
Sometimes, nothing feels better than watching your partner try to dodge a well-aimed foam bullet flying straight towards their mid-section. It’s like watching all of your rage physically collide with their overly-contorted body. I mean, don’t be a dick. Agree on some ground rules beforehand. Like, never shoot an unarmed opponent, or never aim for the face, or don’t take aim at the cat. But seriously. Try it. So satisfying.

Article by Alexia Cooley, Guest Contributor

Ali is a data nerd and Nerf gun enthusiast living with one fiancé and two fur babies in Austin, TX. Keep up with Ali on LinkedIn and on twitter (@ay_em_see).

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