How to Be Happy in a Relationship

Friendship Matters

Part-time lovers, full-time friends
Part-time lovers, full-time friends

Like we mentioned in the last section, it's common for people in a relationship to worry less about what the other person thinks of them. If you do make a big mistake, your partner is more likely to forgive you than your friends might be, because he or she loves you. While that's probably the case, it's not an excuse to treat your partner worse than you treat your friends. According to psychologist John Gottman, "respect and affection are essential to all relationships working and contempt destroys them" [source: Edge].

One way to convey affection and respect is to confide in your partner. That doesn't mean that you need to share every single detail about your day, but if you have something important on your mind, bring it out into the open. It doesn't matter if your partner doesn't exactly share your interests -- he or she will still appreciate your enthusiasm and understand why it's important to you. Show your partner that you respect and appreciate him or her, both through words and actions.

Once you're in a relationship and no longer just "dating," actually going on dates doesn't have to disappear. This is especially true if you have very demanding work schedules and your time together is limited. Just hanging out in front of the TV every night doesn't count, either. You may not be able to go to high-end restaurants and concerts every weekend, but that's not important. Go on a picnic, take a walk or sit in a coffee shop and chat. Find a hobby or sport that you both enjoy doing. It doesn't have to be big and fancy -- it's about spending time together.

Just as important is spending time apart. That might not make sense at first, but being together all of the time can make you just as unhappy as not spending time together. Your partner needs his or her own friends and interests, separate from the relationship. Set up occasional girls' or guys' nights out with your friends and discuss your specific plans with your partner. Often the insecurity and resentment that your partner might feel over plans that don't include him or her comes from being left in the dark.

No matter how considerate you are (or think you are), disagreements are inevitable in any relationship. But did you know that there's a right and wrong way to fight?