5 Sources of a Successful Relationship

  • Published
  • By By Jaclyn E. Urmey, MSW, LCSW, DCSW
  • 514 AMW Wing Director of Psychological Health
Did you know that you can prepare to have a successful relationship? Often, we think if we can communicate effectively, have good speaker-listener skills, and can empathize with others, those skills make us ready. Other times, having our finances in order, finishing school, and having a good job helps us feel ready to take that step out into the world of relationships. All of those things are beneficial in a relationship, but they are not the most important ways to measure how prepared you actually are.

As taken from the Relationship Attachment Model of How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk (or Jerkette), by John Van Epp, there are five sources of love and closeness. Each contributes to feeling connected and close within a relationship. So let’s say that you are interested in someone, or maybe you’ve already started dating someone. Consider these five sources on a scale from low to high or from 1 to 10.
The first source is getting to know the individual. How well do you really know this person? If both individuals are open and share about themselves, the odds of having a successful relationship improve. If one is closed while the other is open, you may think “wow, that person listens really well,” but is that person not comfortable opening up and if not, are they ready for a relationship? Probably not. Getting to know someone takes time.

Trust is another source of love and closeness. How well do you understand this person? Do you see them as they truly are, or only how they want you to see them? Consider how accurate a picture you have of this person to know how well you trust them.

Knowing if you can rely on someone occurs when you see how this person meets your needs and how you meet theirs. Can you depend on this person to be there for you? In what ways has this person demonstrated that you can rely on them? If this person expects you to always be available when they want something, but gives excuses every time you reach out to them, this relationship isn’t moving in a hopeful direction.

The fourth source is commitment. Do you feel a sense of belonging in this relationship? If you get the feeling that you and this person mutually feel that you belong to each other (not in a controlling way), then you may be ready to take this next step. If there is a lack of respect or a sense of smothering, then this is not a healthy relationship to be in.

The final source of love and closeness is sexual touch. Too many times, one night stands occur with no intention of continuing to develop the relationship, but the damage to the hope of having one has already been done. Being able to go back and start fresh is possible, but not often successful because once this line has been crossed, it’s a difficult one to uncross. Physical intimacy, whether holding hands or going all the way, is a significant way to feel closeness in a romantic relationship.

Rate your current relationship or love interest using the scale above. Keep in mind that this way of measuring your preparedness for relationships is meant to portray a safe relationship. Each level should not exceed the next. Do not go farther in your sexual touch than the level of your commitment. Do not make a commitment beyond the level of reliance you have achieved. Do not rely on this person more than your developed trust, and do not trust this person more than you know them.

Someone who is overly trusting might rate ‘trust’ higher than ‘know.’ Someone who rates ‘rely’ higher than ‘know’ and ‘trust’ might be codependent. Someone who is willing to commit despite not knowing anything else about you is craving security and cannot stand to be alone. As mentioned previously, when ‘touch’ exceeds all other levels, the relationship is imbalanced and ‘touch’ replaces the relationship as an activity.

Having a way to measure how prepared you are to be in a relationship can save you a lot of stress. It can also teach you how to enjoy each phase of relationship development without rushing to get to the next level. The more time spent on developing the friendship before the romance, the more successful romantic relationship you can have.