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How is it that some relationships work and some don’t? Is it really all down to chance and luck? I know many good couples (myself included) who claim that they would’ve never been paired up on an online dating site. So which general factors set the grounds for a healthy, long-lasting relationship?

  1. Chemistry. Some people will only ever work as friends. And some people can never be just friends. This is because of chemistry. Chemistry is what sparks the initial attraction. It is like a magnetic pull. For love and lust, there must be mutual chemistry. In fact, it is so strong that many short term relationships, hook-ups, and summer flings thrive solely off chemistry and fizzle out as soon as it dies after the honeymoon stage. But while chemistry is the crucial first ingredient, it is far from the defining factor in making a relationship work long-term.
  2. Timing and Context. Circumstances matter tremendously. Sometimes, people aren’t at a good stage in their lives for a relationship. This could be for a number of reasons, such as family, distance, work schedule, or other (past and present) relationships. While I do believe that love is always worth a chance, it can makes things a lot harder when there is bad timing, so this is a very valid factor of success in relationships. Given a different context, the same two people could very well hit it off.
  3. Balance in attraction. Both people have to like each other relatively the same amount or else one person will always be trying harder, and that upsets the power dynamics. No one should have a noticeable upper hand. Equal desire leads to equal respect and equal love and effort.
  4. Mutual intentions. Once there is chemistry and opportunity, both must then be looking for the same thing(s). They must have the same definition of what a good relationship is. If one person is looking for commitment and the other is looking more to hook up, that also upsets the balance.
  5. Common fundamental values. Not everything should be agreed on because that provides no room for discussion. However, core beliefs should be similar. These are the things that really matter and define a person, meaning they will be different for everyone. Some people care most about religion, others about political views, or nationality. Whatever it is, there must be enough acceptance between a couple to not constantly butt heads or get offended.
  6. Similar levels of intensity. Often, I get peers asking me: “You’re such an openly passionate and emotional person; how is that you stand being with someone so reserved?” The thing is, he is a very passionate person, but not in public, and not about the same things as I. But that’s okay, because we both do have our intense moments so we can respect and understand that. If one person is always indifferent, they would find it hard to deal with such a highly strung emotional person because they couldn’t relate or respect that, and vice versa.
  7. Similar levels of intelligence. A person’s intelligence defines their values, work habits, ambitions, and even sense of humour. Someone with a drive for knowledge would get easily bored with a partner who couldn’t challenge that. Intelligent conversations are such an important part of a relationship and they must therefore be stimulating enough to satisfy both people. Here is where common interests would make things easier, but it is still quite possible to maintain daily thought-provoking conversation with a partner who shares few similar interests.
  8. Personal deal-breakers. Every person is different, so every relationship has different boundaries. Personal deal-breakers are things that people individually cannot stand– things that cross the line and are impossible to get over. This could be anything from a habit, such as smoking, to a character trait, like arrogance. This could also be in relation to circumstance (i.e. recently divorced) and/or values (i.e. pro-life vs. pro-choice). (See my personal list here.)
  9. Temperament. I’ve also heard of this described as “tone” or “wavelength”. It refers to the concept of “old souls” and “new souls”, as well as to the character types described by the Myers-Briggs test. Obviously, it’s good (even preferable!) to differ in results since opposites do attract and variety is the spice of life and love. But there has to be the right kind of opposition and balance There must also be some activities that both enjoy doing on a date night together. Furthermore, maturity and depth of character also play important roles.
  10. EFFORT. This is by far the most important factor. There are people who perfectly match the aforementioned points, but in the end, everything comes down to effort and management. It takes time and practice to make a relationship work. There will be trials and there will be errors. But with communication, patience, acceptance, and love, it is possible to overcome other deterrents and create something great and lasting. Nothing just works by itself. You have to be willing to make some sacrifices, keep trying, and not give up.

So while some elements are certainly up to chance, not everything is out of our control. Romantic relationships take the right combination of many elements, and most importantly, a whole lot of will.

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