Everybody wants to build a strong and healthy relationship, but people often don’t realize how much effort it actually takes. Though a successful partnership consists of many different elements, there are five non-negotiable qualities that it absolutely has to have.

My experience speaking with friends and family (and dissecting my own breakups) has shown me that relationships often fail when they're missing one of these crucial qualities. Work to develop them with your partner and watch your bond thrive.

1. Affection

A lack of affection is one of the most common relationship killers. The phrase “he/she doesn’t show me affection anymore” is all-too-popular in our vernacular. Affection encompasses both emotional affection and physical affection. These are equally important to a relationship, and you need to have a mix of both.

There are many ways to show affection, and you should pay extra attention to figure out which ones your partner seems to respond to most. When I want to show my partner physical affection, I try holding her hand more or sitting close to her while we're watching TV. To express emotional affection, I'll tell her how much she means to me or complement her unprompted.

Here are 38 ways to really show up in your relationship — both physically and emotionally.

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2. Empathy

In order to foster an honest relationship, you have to be genuinely interested in how your partner feels and understand the way they see things. Showing empathy will help deepen the connection you share with your partner, and withholding it will cause them to question whether or not you really care.

Even if you've struggled to show empathy in the past, it's a quality that can be learned. You can start practicing it with your partner by interacting with them from a more genuine standpoint, offering to help them through a time of need, or opening up to them in order to forge a stronger emotional connection. Work to become more aware of when it’s time to talk and when it's better to just listen.

Everybody wants to build a strong and healthy relationship, but people often don’t realize how much effort it actually takes.
 

3. Integrity

Being honest with your partner and carrying through with your word will go a long way in building the trust you two share. If you promise your partner something, you need to do everything in your power to fulfill that promise — no matter what.

Having integrity helps open you up to your vulnerabilities, breaks down your walls and shows that you are willing to do whatever it takes to help your relationship grow.

Honesty really is the best policy in relationships — here's why.

4. Openness

It's important that your significant other is always aware of what you are thinking — the best way to stay open with your partner is to tell them how you're feeling as soon as any negative feeling arises. Don’t wait to see if it goes away. Open up a dialogue quickly, so you can start working on solving your problem before it gets out of hand.

On the other side of things, it's important to be a partner who is open to this dialogue. Never judge the person you're with when they're trying to speak honestly with you. Fostering an "open-door policy" will create an amazing amount of trust and bring you two closer together.

Keep these rules in mind when you're trying to communicate openly and honestly with your partner.

5. Understanding

We are all different and we all have a unique point of view. You may not perceive a certain situation the same way your partner does, but you need to be understanding of how they see things.

For example, if your partner tells you that they feel like they're doing everything in the relationship and that you hardly contribute, don't take it as a personal attack. Instead, listen to how they came to that conclusion and devote some time to thinking about how you would feel in their shoes.

These five tips will help you get better at understanding your partner (and everyone else!)

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Photo Credit: iStock Photo


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