Fulfillment at Any Age

How to remain productive and healthy into your later years

The 12 Ties that Bind Long-Term Relationships

Young lovers may think they have a corner on the romance market. A recent national survey shows that although young love is in fact highly passionate, so is the love between long-term life partners. Read More

I do not disagree with these

I do not disagree with these 12 traits, but I find it interesting that these can all be found in the early stages of most relationships. What characteristics set those that have lasting power apart from the others? It seems that without the "big ticket" items of trust, empathy, fidelity, etc., these traits would not be enough to cement a bond.

You missed of of the most

You missed of of the most important things... the willingness and ability to communicate openly and honestly.


You're right, but the most important factor in a relationship is trust. If you trust someone, you will communicate with them.

I trust my spouse, but we

I trust my spouse, but we have horrible communicaiton. One of many reasons I moving out and filing for divorce.

Hi Susan, You sum up by

Hi Susan,
You sum up by saying: "By changing your thoughts and your behavior about these relationships, you can keep them fresh and vital for years."
I agree with you, because that's what hopefully happens as both partners mature. Maturing means that we become more aware of ourselves and the impact we have on others, and we learn to respond to the good and bad of that in a positive way.
For me, that positive way is triggered by something that goes back to the very beginning of my relationship with my wife of 30 years and it has stayed with me ever since. It was the time, back in those early days, when she first stood in front of me naked and said, "Here I am. If you want me I'm yours." If that sounds pornographic, nothing could be further from the reality. I can't deny feelings of lust (which are still there), but that would also not properly describe the essence of that moment. It was a cocktail of confidence and vulnerability and of such power that it has endured as an anchor point in my mind.
So, for all the complexities of keeping a long-term relationship alive, and all the points you highlight in this post are important, I do believe that the certain something that got you committed in the beginning has a big role to play.
I'm not too sure I've offered my point in the best terms because there is a lot of context that I have not described. Nevertheless, I will leave it with you.

Susan, your tips regarding

Susan, your tips regarding long term relationships were great! I mentioned your article on my website. I have provided a link there so my readers could view the full article here.


Re: Susan, your tips regarding

Hi Ed, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I appreciate your sharing the link on your website. Best, Susan

I love reading Psychology

I love reading Psychology Today, but the articles on romantic relationships are a bit disappointing. This article like most of the articles in this magazine on romantic relationships tends towards the idea, based on tradition rather than science it seems, that the right way in romance is to find the right partner and settle down together for the whole rest of your lives or at least many years, and that if people are miserable doing that then they should work harder on the relationship or try harder next time to find the right person.

Most articles follow that line. There are a few exceptions, like Bella DePaulo who comes across as a small voice of dissent in a huge ocean of conservatism and insistence on a right way. She deals with being single though and is largely silent on the issue of short-term romantic relationships. People feel worse than they should when their short term relationships come to an end because we are informed by many sources, including articles in this magazine, that in romantic relationships the aim is to find the right person and stay together forever. This sets people up for failure.

Can we have more articles that don't assume that romantic relationships are meant to be long term? People need long term relationships but can have plenty of other kinds of long term relationships, eg friends and family.

Hi Gillian, Thank you for

Hi Gillian,
Thank you for your comment; I somewhat addressed that point when I said that people in long-term relationships seem to benefit in terms of physical health. However, I definitely see what you're talking about and I agree that Bella does a great job of dealing with people who are single. I think I'll take up this topic in a future blog. You might also want to check out my blog on "The Top Ten Relationship Myths and Why They're Myths," in which I talk about research on friends and family.

In my experience one of the

In my experience one of the first things to dwindle in long term relationships is intimacy. I find that is one of the number one complaints of couples seeking counseling and therapy. I recently read an article on keeping passion alive after it has slowed and I think it is a good supplement to this article. Check it out here: http://www.relatespace.com/2012/03/01/keeping-passion-alive

I agree with this

I do not disagree with these 12 traits, but I find it interesting that these can all feel found in the early phases of many commitments. Exactly what attributes poised those which have long term power apart from the other people? It appears that without the "big ticket" items of trust, empathy, fidelity, and others., these traits will never be sufficient to concrete a bond.

I agree with this article

I agree with this article whole-heartedly. I've been married 11 years and though it's been rocky in the past, my husband and I still love each other with care and passion. I don't think we would have made it without 100% commitment to each other,open honest communication and just plain needing each other all the time.

Trial-style relationship...they just lack the trust of commitment and it just makes it very difficult to take it to the next level of babies, domestics while still keeping the love. Perhaps some people are luckier than others with this approach, I just haven't met/known any in my own life.

Wanting to know where your

Wanting to know where your partner is at all times - ugh! Huge red flag that signals, at best, co-dependence, and more likely an obsessive need for conrol, distrust and refusal to allow your partner space of their own. Thousands and thousands of women suffer under the misapprehension that you're propagating in this article - that they are obliged to inform their male partner where they are at all times - and so they slip into abusive relationships that break them down. But I'm sure the male partners are happy about it.

Most of the other points are nonsense as well, but that's the one that is potentially dangerous.

Wanting to know where one's partner is at all times?!?

This definitely comes under the category of obsessing about one's partner, and, as you pointed out, Anonymous, this is a red flag...and a dangerous one, to boot. People in a relationship, no matter how ardent it is, must allow their partner his or her space, or the relationship is doomed from the start, because both parties need privacy, if one gets the drift.

Also, being obsessive over one's partner and constantly thinking about him or her to the point where it interferes with one's normal life and activities, is also a dangerous red flag. Again, it's important to cultivate one's own individual interests, etc., which will make one's life fuller, and one's lover proud of him or her.

potentially dangerous

wanting to know where your partner is at all times is just as you can read WANTING it doesnt imply that you should be informing your partner where you are at all times or if your partner should tell you where she is at all times. it is just a wanting that needs to be controlled , it does not mean that you are obsessed, it just means that you want to know if they're safe and the like. do not treat it as if it's a bad thing. its a form of ID that you would naturally counter with your ego. It does not end up as becoming abusive relationship. it ends up as becoming a relationship that wants to communicate more with each other which will then lessen the probability of it becoming an abusive relationship. rethink about it

It seems like people aren't

It seems like people aren't really reading this article and just glossing over it. Obsession is bad, but the writer did say this was about people who have been together for a very long time. At this point it's not stalking. "Wanting to know if they're safe" is correct, but this is still not something that "needs to be controlled." You don't have to have self-control when you are actually interested in someone's well-being. Far from it. You care about your family, so you are interested in their safety and health. That's normal, good, proper. It's being concerned about them.

Staying in touch, like with cell phones is a good example. You wouldn't assume the person is obsessed if they've been married for a decade. It's just normal to be involved in their daily life. It would only be wrong if they admitted to doing it because they didn't trust the other person. But then why would they take part in this test? They'd have lied when they said they were happily married.

Re: Wanting to know where your

Dear Anonymous, I realize that the findings of this study might have these implications, but you have to read it carefully because these are not extreme behaviors that the authors have talked about, nor have I. Sorry you think that the points are nonsense, but I invite you to check out the actual study and decide for yourself how to interpret the findings. If you would like, I can send you the article. Just email me back channel. Best, Susan

I agree with anonymous above.

I agree with anonymous above. all of the list items are either "duh", regarding generally being happy precludes a good relationship and etc., or potentially dangerous or abusive, such as wanting to know where your partner is at all times, obsessively thinking about him/her ("obsessively" is never a good term), or difficulty concentrating when thinking about him/her. These "tips" are at best, obvious, and at worst, propagating potentially abusive behaviours, many of which do not or should not exist outside the "honeymoon" phase.

Marriage Ideals

Gosh, if only. We have been married for 26 years. I believe I bend over backwards for my spouse and he barely bends any way.

Re: Communication...he talks riddles and if I don't get it, he yells, cusses and mocks. Trying to figure out his texts is also real fun. I showed my married daughter one last month and she was a little baffled as well. I give in to his demands finally to keep the peace. Went to a marriage counselor which was a disaster.

I don't have any idea how to change it around. We used to be interested in the same things but no longer. He has no interest in my interests and I never have liked golf although I do encourage him...funny though he must feel guilty doing it everyday because he says I do not.
I feel I am too selfish many times. Very frustrating.

Great Article

This is a great article Love is that emotion that binds us together and in some cases keep us balance and in control of our lives.

Love, not attachment.

I disagree with many of these. It seems to imply that in order to have a healthy, strong relationship, you should be very attached to your partner. I say, the love should outweigh the need. I'm able to focus on what needs my attention without being distracted by thoughts of my girl, but when time permits, I love thinking about her. I love her very much, but I do not need her, and she shares that sentiment; I wouldn't have it any other way.

I don't need to always know her whereabouts, either. She is not my property, and can do as she pleases. A large part of a strong, healthy relationship is trust. Let go of the attachment; know that one day, some way, the relationship you have now will end. It's not sad, it's true. Just love.

A lot of research and human

A lot of research and human experience disagrees with you. This article is about what makes a relationship last, and if you think your method will work for everyone it certainly won't. In general, the silly things that attract people to each other are what can hold them together. Attachment does matter. In the long run it's a big deal. It's not the whole story but you can't rule it out when so many people say how it works for them.

Also, why tell people "one day, the relationship you have now will end"? Sure it might, but it doesn't have to. It's not really good to think "Well, this will end someday anyways" if you're looking for how to succeed at a committed relationship.

Re: Love, not attachment

Dear Anonymous, I understand what you're saying, but I was summarizing an article that to me seemed well grounded in data. That said, there are many nuances especially in complex relationships. You've expressed your feelings very well and your girl is lucky to have you! Best, Susan

So why some think that

So why some think that obsession is sick...it's cool of course when it's turning to sickness

love no attached

Hi there
i find the comment "love no attached " good., because the question is : how can this happen ??? why is love fading away? until recently i was giving up and then i tried a new "strategie "....you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsOC2TaDeXI

The secret to long-term

The secret to long-term relationship: kill all fantasy. All this talk about "romance"--a word that has a connotation of fantasy--is too much. We need to go back to Peck's "The Road Less Traveled": no relationship cannot continue without love, and what is love? Love is simply extending yourself for somebody else's spiritual growth. We are all bigger than romantic fantasy thus romantic fantasy will never be enough. And, obviously, romantic fantasy cannot carry a longterm relationship. Many do not have a longterm relationship because "extending yourself" is just not as attractive as losing myself in a fantasy. One thing is certain: we are all unatrractive at least some of the time.


At the end of the day, doesn't it come down to compatibility? If you sustain long-term compatibility, you are most likely to enjoy a long-term relationship. So how does one know if they do or will enjoy long-term compatibility? I like the admiration approach Hayden Dane put forth in his brief e-book at www.haydendane.com. If you can admire in the other what he/she admires in himself/herself, and vice versa, long-term compatibility exists and can be sustained. It's a simple but novel concept with important implications for relationships.

I like the first one

We do not know what relationship about anymore. thinking about each other at all times is very important but i think this happen when the relationship is very new.

people have problem with familiarity. they can't control the problem getting to know each other better. the excitement disappears and problem emerge.

100% agreement

I agree 100% with this article. And even the listing order. When all is said and done, who's going to remember the selfish person as any thing other than "a selfish person". A loving, giving, serving person will be remember by all whose lives were touched.

Humm - well that sums it all

Humm - well that sums it all up for me. On to a Divorce Lawyer as not one of the 12 related to me at all. Its been 22 years but what the heck -

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Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.


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