Achieving a happy relationship with someone takes more than just a bit of good luck. It requires daily exercise in healthy relationship practices that help build a strong bond between two people. While couples do many things to keep their relationships happy—communicating, for example—the things they don’t do might lend more to their happiness as a couple than you may think.
Things you shouldn’t do if you want a happy relationship
If you’re looking for ways to build a happy relationship with someone special, consider the following “don’t do” tips that other happy couples swear by.
#1 Don’t complain about your relationship to family or friends. Whether your relationship is a little rocky from time to time or is smooth sailing for the most part, don’t discuss it with outsiders. Involving others in your private matters usually results in negative feedback that’s hardly ever helpful. Instead, talk directly to each other to work through the bumps in the road together.
#2 Don’t compare yourself to others. People who are truly happy accept themselves and others as they are. Comparing yourself or your partner to someone else is unfair and unrealistic. It only leads you to feelings of insecurity about yourself and about your relationship.
#3 Don’t blame your partner for your problems. Understand that it’s you who needs to take responsibility for your own feelings. Don’t blame your partner or wallow in self-pity. Instead, communicate with them and ask for the help you need in rectifying the situation. [Read: 21 big signs of emotional abuse you may be overlooking]
#4 Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is full of ups and downs. To be truly happy, you mustn’t take everything so seriously. Happy couples enjoy life. They date often and laugh a lot. Even when life gets rough, find ways to keep it light if you can.
#5 Don’t criticize. Nobody likes a nag. Criticizing your partner only creates a rift in the relationship that, over time, can tear it apart. Try not to criticize each other, but instead, look for ways to work through irritating situations with sensitivity. [Read: 8 easy ways to be less critical of the people around you]
#6 Don’t ignore the financial side of your relationship. Money troubles can stress even the best relationships, so address issues as quickly as possible when they arise. Discuss your financial goals so you can make responsible decisions for a bright future. If money matters are a touchy subject with you, just know that ignoring them can lead to major headaches later on. [Read: 17 simple and yet brilliant ways to save money as a couple]
#7 Don’t attempt to read your partner’s mind. In many relationships—especially long-term ones—couples assume they know what their partners want or need. While you may know your partner better than anyone else, never assume you know all the time.
The key to a happy relationship is communication, and you must communicate well in order to know what the other truly needs and wants. Spell your feelings and desires out explicitly so there are no mistakes or disappointments. [Read: 30 questions for couples who think they know everything about each other]
#8 Don’t choose bad timing. There is a right time and a wrong time to share your feelings in order to have your needs met. The wrong time is when your partner is busy or otherwise preoccupied with something else.
When you engage with them during a time like this, chances are that they will not get the importance of what you’re saying, leaving you feeling frustrated and angry. The right time to discuss your feelings is when they aren’t busy. The best way to make sure it’s a good time is simply to ask. “Hey, I’d like to discuss something with you. Is now a good time?”
#9 Don’t obsess about your role in the relationship. Most people have their “role” in a relationship. Some roles are gender-based: Mowing the grass is usually the man’s job, for instance. However, happy couples take on tasks outside their roles in order to get things done when they need to be done, no matter whose job it is. If your partner is the cook in the relationship, but can’t get dinner on the table because she’s working late, step in and get the job done. Have supper waiting for her when she gets home.
#10 Don’t be a Negative Nelly. Rather than pressuring your partner to do what you think they need to do, try encouraging them instead. Be the support and motivation they need to achieve bigger and better things, rather than nagging them to do better. [Read: Are you a negative person? – 15 signs to find out]
#11 Don’t look to Hollywood for relationship advice. There’s no doubt celebrity couples are interesting, but never, ever look to them as proper examples of what a happy relationship looks like. Real-life Hollywood couples are usually dysfunctional and end up breaking up soon after getting together. Furthermore, on-screen Hollywood couples are unrealistic portrayals of relationships. Happy couples simply do not base their happiness on these false representations.
#12 Don’t rush your relationship. Never push your relationship to higher levels too quickly. Everyone wants the fairy tale happy ending, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey too. [Read: The 9 stages of a relationship every couple has to go through]
#13 Don’t expect your relationship to be the answer to your prayers. While a healthy, happy relationship certainly adds to your life, don’t expect it to solve all your problems. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to fix your life. You must do that yourself. Take responsibility for your own feelings and problems to keep them from interfering with the happiness of your relationship.
#14 Don’t expect being a couple to be easy. It is amazing to be in a long-term relationship, but it is rarely easy. View challenges as an opportunity to grow and become stronger as a couple. Being happy together takes effort, but learning as you go gives you the strength you both need to stay together and be truly happy.
#15 Don’t hold back. You never lose out by loving someone. You lose out by holding back and not giving 100% of yourself in your relationship. Being part of a truly happy couple cannot happen until you are able to give someone else the chance to hurt you, while trusting them, at the same time, not to. Being in a happy relationship means you have faith in your partner, and they have faith in you, too. [Read: The complete guide to having a long term relationship that lasts]
#16 Don’t keep secrets. Secrets can destroy the strongest relationships. Trust is a delicate thing that’s easily lost, so don’t keep secrets from your partner. Consider keeping secrets as the same thing as lying. Nothing good ever comes from lying.
#17 Don’t hide who you are. If you can’t be yourself around someone you love, you can’t be happy. Happy couples love each other for who they are and are never afraid of being themselves. There’s nothing better than being loved for who you are. On that same note, never feel as if you need to change for anyone. If they can’t accept you for you, you’ll never be happy in the relationship.
#18 Don’t dwell on the past. The past is gone. It can’t be changed. Accept that your partner has a past, and although you may not like it, accept it and move on. Look to the future together and forget about what’s behind you. [Read: 10 signs your past relationship is holding you back from a happy future]
#19 Don’t focus on your partner’s flaws. Everyone has them, but don’t focus on your partner’s. When you focus on the good in them, you’ll not notice them anyway. By discovering the good in your partner, you also discover the good in yourself.
#20 Don’t expect anything in return. To maintain a happy relationship, be willing to give but expect nothing in return. Do something special for your partner because you know it will make them happy. When your focus becomes more about giving than gaining, you’ll find yourself becoming truly happy too.
There’s no magic formula, and every person is different. However, these small considerations can take your relationship from down in the dumps to on top of the world—that is, if you pay attention and apply them properly.
[Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for a successful relationship]
Everyone aspires to be part of a happy couple. It can be a struggle, but anyone can build a perfect relationship if they just take the time to practice healthy relationship habits. Use the tips above to guide your own relationship to a happier, healthier place.