Advice for Couples in a Long Term Relationship

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I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost four years – we started dating our junior year of high school. Every relationship is a learning process. But long term relationships, especially during the really formative years of your life, can be difficult to maintain if you’re not putting the effort in.

My boyfriend, Tanner, and I always say that we got lucky to have found each other so young, but at the same time, it can be a little scary too. There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being in a committed relationship during the young adult years – the future is completely undefined for both of you, and you’re both trying to grow personally and professionally.

I’ve compiled a list of long term relationship tips – every one of these were things I learned along the way.

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Don’t forget to be spontaneous. This one is from Tanner himself, and he’s 100 percent right. It’s too easy to fall into a set schedule, and sometimes you need to pull away from that. It keeps things light and fun, just remember that sometimes you need to go with the flow, if you need to plan out everyday like I do.

Ask how their day went. This should be instinct, really. And when they tell you, actively listen.

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Make time for each other, even when you’re schedule is full. Just 15 minutes together or making sure to walk to class together can make a big difference. You have to make time to see the important people in your life, not wait and see if there will be time to see those people at some point.

No matter how comfortable you are with each other, always be respectful. Always. There’s a difference between teasing each other and being downright disrespectful.

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Give compliments. This is a big one. Giving your significant other compliments is something you should want to do anyway, because you love them and want them to feel good about themselves. Giving your boyfriend/girlfriend a compliment should not feel forced!

Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Tanner and I always got mixed reactions when we told people we were going to the same college together, which, by the way, was not planned at all. I understand we have a lot of life to live, and that there’s so much we don’t understand yet, but we’re going to learn and experience it all together, which I think is pretty great. Never let people undermine your relationship.

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Just because you’re in a committed relationship, doesn’t mean you are dependent on the other person. I’ve heard so many people say that you have to be alone to really get to know yourself and grow. First of all, that is not true at all! I am so different now than I was in high school, or even a year ago, and so is Tanner. Getting to grow together has been such a privilege, and something I wouldn’t change for the world. Being in a committed relationship hasn’t stopped me from pursuing whatever I want to do, and it shouldn’t stop anyone from chasing their dreams.

Remember that while relationships take more work than people realize, being with someone should be somewhat easy. Being in a relationship takes effort, but hanging out with your significant other shouldn’t be tiring or an annoyance. If you’ve been dating for a long time, things like cuddling or talking shouldn’t be forced. The two of you being together should be a natural thing.

There is no perfect relationship. The best thing you can do is have faith that everything will work out in the end.

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