As many as half of the marriages end up in divorce. That’s a very high percentage of relationships that don’t make it. However, if you already went through a divorce, you have an even higher likelihood of failing in your second and third relationships. The odds are really against you.
For instance, more than 6 in 10 of second marriages end up in divorce and more than 7 in 10 of third marriages result in a failure.
You may think that marriage is a long way off when you are just looking to enter into a relationship with someone and you are correct. However, you have to temper any high expectations you have with your new man or woman with a healthy dose of reality.
Love is beautiful, but it’s also really scary and in some cases crazy.
Here are 10 things you need to consider before entering into a relationship and make it last.
1. Make Sure You Know Who You Are First
If you are not sure about who you are, neither will your partner. Don’t shape your personality according to what you think your partner will love. It is almost impossible to correct course later and maintain the relationship. This is why most relationships fail.
Make a list of what you think are your negative traits. Solicit the help of your family or your trusted friends. What areas of your personality and your life need improvement? In what ways can you improve upon them?
Remember the adage about loving yourself first before you can start to love somebody else? There’s no truer truism than that. How can you expect somebody to accept you when you don’t even know who you are?
2. You Need to Let Go of Your Past
Entering into a relationship is like beginning again. If you’ve suffered trauma from your past, you need to let that go. If you need professional help to sort out your feelings, do that before you take in a new person in your life.
You can’t always be afraid of being hurt just because you’ve been hurt before. You can’t assume the worst of your new partner just because of previous ones.
3. Make Sure You Are in For The Right Reasons
The only right reason to be in a relationship is that you want to be there. If you date somebody out of guilt or pity, you are being unfair to yourself and the other person.
Dating on the rebound, when your heart has not been given enough time to heal and move on, also is unfair. What happens is you will always compare your new squeeze with your old lover and that will always end in tragedy. It is a waste of your time and emotion and will almost inevitably end in bad feelings.
Most of our actions are dictated by our subconscious. It’s rare for people to be so self-aware that they can identify their weaknesses and correct them without any input from others. Still, you have to make an honest assessment of yourself.
4. Do You Have Time for a Relationship?
Sure, being in a relationship can be magical with the right person, but you also have to look at your list of priorities. Do you even have the minutes and hours needed to nurture that relationship and give time to the other person?
Your partner will not just appear according to your need or desire and just fade away when you are busy. Those you date also will demand your time, and that means less time for your work, friends, hobbies, and routines.
If you are already stretched thin, then a relationship is the last thing you have time for in your life right now. Only after you both sort out your schedules can you allow the other person into your lives.
5. You Might Lose Some of Your Independence
When you choose to be part of a couple, you lose some of your right to act unilaterally. Some decisions will now need to be bilateral. Dial back on your stubbornness and make sure to get the input of your partner.
Any major decisions will have to be discussed first so you can make a choice with which you are both comfortable. It’s called a partnership for a reason. You both are united toward achieving the same goals and making sure you end up becoming better versions of yourselves.
For some people, this is a deal-breaker. They have this distorted view of a relationship and how they might lose their freedom. In a sense, there’s truth to that statement. For instance, you no can go out anytime you want to, and you can’t make major decisions without consulting your partner first.
People who are in a loving relationship will tell you that losing a little of their independence is something they are willing to sacrifice. Besides, if you find somebody who is very much like you, there’s likely not much to sacrifice anyway.
6. You Need to Learn to Compromise
This harkens back to No. 8. Relationships are all about compromises. You also have to think about the other person’s feelings and vice versa. This is especially true for partners with clashing personalities. You both will have to balance your desires with the needs of your partners. Sometimes it can get ugly but these are manageable or preventable with good communication.
The value of being in a relationship is that it teaches you to love, and when you love, you unlock that part of yourself where you think of something other than yourself. It’s like leveling up in a game. Achievement unlocked.
Look at how mothers love their children, for example. It’s selfless. Ask any mother and they will tell you that they will gladly lay down their lives for their child. That type of love is life-changing. That selfless devotion will spill over into other relationships you have. You will be more patient with others, you will open up more, you will be more giving.
This is the essence of any relationship. When you love more, you will experience the happiness you’ve never known before you open yourself up to another person.
7. How Far Are They From You?
With technology nowadays, long-distance relationships are not as lonely because you can text, call or get them on video anytime. However, it’s always going to be an uphill battle for new relationships that are separated by distance. Accordingly, 4 in 10 of long-distance relationships fail and the average duration is about four-and-a-half months.
Though the distance is not the main reason, it’s actually when you both don’t have any sort of plans in the future to change your circumstances. This is the cause of 70% of breakups.
Jealousy is the most common issue that creeps up in a long-distance relationship. Trust can be hard and technology doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Yes, you can video chat, but if you demand that your partners turn the camera on the room to confirm whether they are really with their co-workers or friends, they will call you out on your lack of trust, as well they should.
Another issue is the frequency of communication. Because you don’t see each other as often, you measure your relationship by how many times you communicate each day. If you do not receive a reply for a few hours or even minutes, you may lash out, suspecting your partner does not take the relationship seriously or is being unfaithful.
Lastly, both of you need to sit down and discuss your respective goals—individually and for your relationship. Talk about timelines, both for your careers, as well as the progression of the relationship. The long-distance is more tolerable when there’s an endgame.
8. Politics and Religion
Politics and religion are very divisive topics. In fact, almost 50% of millennials nowadays won’t date someone outside of their politics. It’s rare for any relationship to survive when the partners have opposite political views.
If politics is divisive, wait till you talk about religion. Some faiths (like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Islam) prohibit marriages outside of religion. Christian denominations are more likely to find themselves in interfaith marriages. It should be noted, however, that 8 in 10 of couples believe that values are more important than faith.
There are countless couples with different political views and religious beliefs who are happy in their relationships. It all depends on how deeply entrenched your beliefs are. With that said, this is a hurdle that may be very difficult to overcome.
Author and “dating expert” Julia Spira (Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships) said that more and more single millennials consider the political views of a potential partner before they even start thinking about entering into a relationship. She also said that the political divide is blamed for a lot of breakups. In fact, people who she interviewed had claimed that they can overlook a smoker who refuses to quit but not somebody with contrasting politics.
The important thing is to know that you are not required to go into a debate each time. You don’t have to argue their statement just to defend your position. If you are a Trump supporter, for instance, and your wife criticizes something the President said, just take it in stride and understand where they are coming from.
This goes for religious beliefs, as well.
What you need to do is to understand your partner’s religious beliefs. Talk to them and ask them questions not just about the tenets of their religion but more importantly, how they relate to these sets of dogmas.
9. Your Friendships Might Suffer
The more time you spend with a new partner, the less that may remain for friends, both quantity and quality. This is not always the case, of course, but something had to be sacrificed over the other. If you are in a committed relationship, understand that you can’t go out with your friends anytime you like because now there’s another person to consider.
Consider yourself lucky if your partner and your friends hit it off effortlessly and you can all go out together. This is the exception more often than the norm. Your partner may resent it if you force them into accepting your friends and vice versa. You will deal with some jealousy and distrust, and even downright resentment.
Some people go into a relationship with unrealistic expectations. Yes, they can expect changes but they do not foresee the possible negative outcomes. What do you think you will do if your partner will ask you to choose between them and your friends? What will you do when your friends tease you about focusing too much on your girlfriend or boyfriend? So be prepared for changes.
10. Background Check, Anyone?
Look at your partners’ social media. It’s not a very romantic way to start relationships, but really, you can’t be too careful these days. and watch out for red flags. Pay attention to the comments and how they respond.
The good thing about the Internet and social media is that there’s always a digital trail. Follow these cookie crumbs long enough and you might yet arrive at the truth. It’s not to say that you don’t give them the benefit of the doubt but they have to really earn your trust before you leave yourself wide open.
Yes, loving somebody can be very scary. You are making yourself vulnerable, after all, you are giving this person the power to hurt you. But with a clear mind on what you want and who you’re looking for, you can save a lot of time from heartache.