Here’s the thing about relationships.
Sometimes they’re candlelit date nights, and walks through grassy meadows, and feeding each other cake at your wedding.
But sometimes they’re doing the dishes, and comforting a screaming baby, and fighting over whose turn it is to do the dishes or comfort the screaming baby.
Which is to say, while sometimes your love and passion for each other is obvious, sometimes it’s really, really not.
So how do you know if your relationship is terrific — or heading south?
Psychologists have spent years studying the traits that are fundamental to successful long-term relationships and come up with a few key ideas. We rounded up some of their most surprising insights below.
A word of caution: If you notice that your relationship doesn’t meet all these criteria, that does not necessarily mean you should end things with your partner. Consider this list a general set of guidelines that can help you start evaluating whether your current relationship is bringing you satisfaction and happiness.
You think about your partner often when you’re not together
In 2007, researchers randomly dialed nearly 300 married people and asked them a series of questions about their relationships, as well as how in love they felt.
Results showed that certain relationship characteristics were linked to stronger feelings of love. One especially interesting finding: The more often people reported thinking about their partner when they were apart, the more in love they felt.
The same study included a follow-up experiment with nearly 400 married New Yorkers, which found that difficulty concentrating on other things while you’re thinking about your partner is also linked to strong feelings of love — especially for men.