While I in no way claim to be a relationship expert, as I have had my fair share of failed attempts, I now find myself in an amazing one with a man who is my best friend. Good relationships take patience, hard work, and understanding.  These factors are what I believe to be the best ways to form fulfilling relationships and find a smile constantly plastered on your face.

1. Try new things together.

The best way to keep a relationship alive is to do new, fun, and interesting things together. Don’t let the relationship become too routine! Get out, explore, try new foods, pick up new hobbies, and travel. These things don’t need to be heavily thought out or complicated, just something either of you enjoys doing or seeing and bringing your partner along with you to broaden each other’s horizons. You will have so much more to converse about and will stay active in the process.

I met my significant other while traveling and we took every opportunity to try new activities, foods, and to explore new places together. In the process, we grew to know each other on a much deeper level and formed countless memories that we won’t soon forget.

2. Be thankful for the small things.

Life cannot simply be intense excitement at all times so in order to really enjoy yourself you must take pleasure in the little quirks of life like sitting down having a cup of tea with a scone after a long day. This may sound a little basic, but if you become excited by the prospect of simplistic pleasures, then you really learn to be utterly fascinated by the more overly impressive aspects of life.

My partner always seems to remember the smallest things about me and cares enough to give attention to them. He knows I love green chili, so he constantly seeks out restaurants that serve green chili.  He looks for ways to make me laugh and remembers how I like my coffee. While these things may seem simple, it is the simple day-to-day things that really build a strong relationship. We constantly remind each other of how thankful we are to have one another, and it perpetuates consistent mutual happiness.

3. Listen to one another.

While this seems like a “no-brainer,” it really is so important.  When I say listen, I mean don’t just listen to problems or worries your partner may have. Listen to his or her likes, what makes him or her laugh, what interests the person, their concerns, hopes, etc. The more you listen to your partner, the more he or she can tell you care and will be willing to open up to you on a deeper level.

4. Build each other’s confidence.

If you constantly remind your partner about what he or she is good at, his or her confidence will rise, and the person will be more likely to perform confidently in daily life. Focus on what your partner does right instead of finding faults. In the end, there will be a strong comfort and trust level between you and you will feel unafraid to try new things. For example, my partner was anxious to try surfing and rock climbing, so I said he should focus on the fun it would be rather than the dangers he faced and subsequently, he really enjoyed them and became more confident to try them again.

5. Support each other’s ambitions and interests.

In order for two people to be happy in a relationship, they must be happy with themselves as people first. It is important for each person to have goals and ambitions and for their partners to respect and nurture those ambitions and help them succeed. Sometimes not every ambition works out, but if you are at least there to support them in the difficult times, then you can help them rebuild their confidence and try again.

6. Laugh and be silly often.

Life can be stressful, and a relationship should be a means to relax and have fun. There will be times where just everything seems to be going wrong and problems just keep compiling, but if you can take the time to laugh at how utterly awful your day is going, sometimes you can completely salvage things. Don’t be afraid to let lose with one another and just have fun! From a young age onwards there is this focus on being “cool” and all I have found in later life is that people actively block themselves from having fun by worrying what people think of them. Instead, be silly, smile, and realize most of the people who notice you will either never see you again or be jealous that they don’t have the confidence to be random and silly themselves.

7. Be there for each other in the good and bad times.

Some days, sheer emotion or stress will overwhelm you, and that is okay because life is hard at times. There are times where you will need to lean heavily on each other, but that is exactly what you are there for, to help each other. Be there to be a shoulder to cry on or a person to vent to because you know you will need your partner for that exact reason at another point. Be prepared to be the strong supportive person when needed.

8. Think of everyday things that will make each other happy.

Events such as Christmas, birthdays, and particularly Valentine’s Day put a lot of pressure on both sides to think of really thoughtful gifts and plans, but these are only a few days in a year. There is so much emphasis on these particular holidays that I think people forget to do romantic things or just nice things randomly for no real reason. Surely, the idea is to have real rather than forced romance. The beauty of everyday things is they are simple, easy, and require little planning such as noticing a shop your partner liked but didn’t have enough time to go into. They can even be waking up earlier than your partner on accident and making them scrambled egg on toast. These little things will make you feel good and will definitely earn you brownie points along the way.

9. Talk through problems and fears.

Relationships are scary things to enter into, especially when they get serious quickly. You worry: will it last? Am I ready? Is this the right person? These are all legitimate worries and fears, and no one can ever blame you for thinking them. The only thing I can recommend is to not worry internally and have the courage to tell your partner that you are scared about these things. If you don’t tell your partner, you will only feel worse. Your partner should accept that you have fears and if he or she does not, they may not be right for you. Inevitably there will be more serious complications down the road in the relationship that you will have to deal with together, so you must communicate or risk underlying resentment.

10. Be willing to forgive and apologize.

No two people ever attained a peaceful relationship by being too proud and stubborn to ever admit they are wrong. In any relationship, you must be willing to think through what has occurred and make amends if you want to remain close. If you are wrong, admit it and apologize. If you believe the other person is in the wrong, don’t hold a grudge forever. Forgive them. It is more stressful to hold a grudge over someone’s head than it is to simply forgive and move on. This must be mutual, of course. Both people in a relationship need to be able to put their partner first and work through any problems that may arise.