The 17 Secrets to a Successful Relationship

It’s often said that no one can ever really say what a good relationship is, let alone draw up a checklist for a prospective one. We politely disagree…
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“It’s often said that no one can ever really say what a good relationship is, let alone draw up a checklist for a prospective one. We politely disagree:
1. Pick someone you feel profoundly grateful ever decided to look your way. Start from a sense that you are the lucky one – and that they are superior (the truth is irrelevant).
2. Make sure you fancy them. Check out that you have compatible areas of perversion – and little interest being normal in bed.
3. Allow yourselves both to admit, from an early stage, that you are ‘mad’; heavily distorted by your pasts, unable to understand yourselves, prone to irrational assumptions – and unsteady in your assessments of reality.
4. Make apology the most regular of occurrences. Say sorry about everything all the time and reduce the price of an admission to almost zero.
5. Remove all pride from your character. You were an idiot then, you are an idiot now, you will be an idiot tomorrow. There’s no other option for a human being. Make jokes.
6. Regularly explore how you have disappointed one another. Let them sometimes hate you and you them. Don’t be frightened by anger moderately expressed. The enemy of love is stifled emotion, not maturely explored authenticity. Listen very carefully when they tell you how they feel.
7. Never describe them categorically as this or that (insulting trait). Only ever say: I feel you are this or that… Observe the difference.
8. Get good at sensing the fear beneath your angry moods, then express the fear gently rather than acting out the anger.
9. Reduce expectations of perfection. It’s going to get horrible at times. Allow for major frustrations. You will want to kill them and they you. Don’t.
10. Accept you will have crushes on others. Let them wash over you – and, if the mood is right, share them with the partner.
11. If there are children, recognise that love will suffer hugely. Look forward to properly picking up the baton again in 15 years.
12. Become the sort of person who has no embarrassment about being ‘needy.’ Accept the child in you and look after their needs in the relationship.
13. Read up about attachment theory – and keep the concepts close at hand.
14. Stop being defensive; stop needing to maintain a proud hold on your own dignity. Laugh continually at your foolishness – and apologise for it.
15. Accept that they can’t save you from your own disturbances. Try to be happy in yourself and if you are not, don’t redirect the blame. Observe how often your rocky patches are projected versions of your own life crises. Get a therapist.
16. Don’t expect everything from love.
17. Be very prepared (though reluctant) to leave. Remain out of choice, never desperation.


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Produced in collaboration with:

Hannah O’brien

Title animation produced in collaboration with

Graeme Probert

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