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Wednesday 7 December 2016

5 ways to maintain a long-term relationship

Older couple walking together in park
Older couple walking together in park

Just what does it take to have a long-term relationship?

After dating website eHarmony carried out a psychological experiment to find which Bond girl would give 007 the best chance at one (Goldeneye's Natalya Simonova, pictured right, since you ask) we got to wondering about the science behind the question that couples and singletons have long been asking.

So how did they measure the likelihood of long-term relationship success, and how can we apply the test to ourselves?

We spoke to their relationship professionals about the psychological profiles and the compatibility matching system the website uses to pair up its couples.

The experts there score each profile on the 29 aspects they believe need to be compatible for a successful long-term relationship.

These include everything from personality traits, such as your emotional temperament, social style, values and even your beliefs, to one of the more commonly sought-after qualities - a sense of humour.

Ultimately, maintaining a long-term relationship comes down to personal priorities, but there are some key ingredients in the mix too, according to dating professionals.

Here are five top tips for maintaining a long-term relationship from eHarmony expert Jemima Wade:

1. Embrace flaws

Once you're in a relationship, remember the old adage "nobody's perfect".

Jemima says that when you fall for someone, your initial attraction can stop you noticing your new partner's flaws, or at least override them. But as things progress, you learn more about each other - both the good and the bad.

To get through this stage, you need to be understanding and caring. "For your partner to be willing to open up and show the real them is a huge part of showing their trust in you," says Jemima, "so be kind and gracious."

2. Don't rush

Enjoy the present and don't constantly worry about what the other is thinking.

There are various stages to a relationship, according to eHarmony psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous, and the third involves questioning your relationship. As you look to make someone a part of your life long-term, you may question whether the relationship (rather than the person) is right for you. Going slow diminishes the risk of that.

3. Always be yourself

Being true to yourself is crucial to making a relationship last.

"Being honest with yourself about what you want out of life, and out of your relationship, is a must," says Jemima. "So don't withhold or dilute your views - be it about having kids or relocating. It's not necessary to spill this all at once of course, but be mindful to tell the truth when asked and do your best to be upfront."

4. Balance

You don't have to compromise your independence, but if you can only give your partner a two-hour window on a Wednesday night, you're probably not sending out the right signals.

Date nights are a good way to show you care, and quality time, in any form, is important in making a relationship last.

At the same time, don't go too far the other way. You need to make room for your partner in your life but not at the expense of everything else - friends are crucial too and a good way to balance your personal life.

5. Communication is key

"Don't be afraid to let your guard down," says Jemima. "And if you're hiding your feelings, don't expect your other half to be a mind reader - sadly, that's not a built-in function."

It's a two-way street, so listening is also vital.

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