Like Sex with Dr. Jess on FacebookFollow Sex with Dr. Jess on InstagramFollow Sex with Dr. Jess on TwitterSubscribe to Sex with Dr. Jess's channel on YouTubeSubscribe to Sex with Dr. Jess's RSS feed
Sex with Dr. Jess


January 28, 2021

What Makes A Relationship Successful?

Do you believe in love at fight sight? What constitutes a good match that will last in the long run? Jess chats with Jeff and Carolyn on Global TV’s The Morning Show to address and expand on these ideas. Check out her notes and video interview below!

Can you tell if a relationship will be successful from the onset? Is there such thing as love at first sight?

Love at first sight is a real thing for many of us, because love isn’t a difficult emotion to feel. But we have to differentiate between love the feeling and love the action. The former is easier to conjure than that latter is to enact in the long run. So you can feel loving toward someone, but not really be willing to commit to loving them long term when you consider all that a loving relationship entails — commitment, trust, vulnerability, intimacy, rejection, generosity, gratitude, patience and teamwork.

So if you’ve just met, how can you tell if you’re a good match?

If you’re on a first, second or third date, I encourage you to tune into what you’re feeling in your body — think about how you feel about yourself when you’re in their presence rather than analyzing whether or not they’re a good fit. And look for someone who is as willing to invest in the relationship as you are. Do you have shared values with regard to family, philosophy, spirituality, politics, money and more? You don’t have to align on everything, but if you’re aligned in terms of how much effort you’re willing to put in and what types of conversations you’re willing to engage in (regardless of whether or not you agree), that’s a good start.

You’ve listed a few factors that make for a happy relationship in the long run as individuals and as a team. Let’s go through them…

We have a wealth of data on what makes a relationship last and what makes it fulfilling, so I’ve pulled from a summary analysis of over 11,000 studies as well as data from over 11,000 couples and 43 data sets.

You say that the way you view your partner matters.

Yes. When you view their partner positively and perceive their commitment as high, it’s good for the relationship. The first part entails giving them the benefit of the doubt, focusing on their positive attributes and perhaps downplaying the other attraction and value of alternative potential partners. The second part involves a degree of belief and trust. If you believe your partner is committed and you perceive them as happy, it’s good for the relationship, which makes sense, as you have lower levels of distress associated with fear of loss and it could support more secure attachment.

Apparently teamwork and the way you interact are also important…

Yes. Showing appreciation and generosity are important, but so are forgiveness, managing conflict and alleviating one another’s stress. Taking on your partner’s stress and mirroring their stress response may not be as effective as differentiating — when they feel stress, how can you soothe rather than taking on their feelings.

And what about the way you communicate. You always hear that communication is key, but what type of communication actually makes for a good relationship?

a. Talking about the relationship matters — not just in terms of resolving conflict, but actually talking about what you value, what you need, how you want to grow together is a good sign.
b. Using humour also shows up as a key factor along with being open to being approached for conversation. So if your actions or communication style make it difficult for your partner to approach you to discuss topics — from the mundane to the complex — this can hinder communication and connection. Of course, you’re not responsible for their feelings or fear, but you do play a role in helping to cultivate their openness and comfort.
c. And of course, conflict matters — the way you manage it and whether you operate as a team looking for a win-win or adversaries looking for a win-lose.

And finally, sex must play a role or you wouldn’t be here…

Yes! Sexual satisfaction matters, but so do fun and playfulness. So I think we can see sex as integral in so much as satisfaction is this area often reflects the ways in which you interact outside of the bedroom — are you being open, kind, playful, communicative and generous? You don’t have to have a wild sex life to have a happy relationship, but if you invest some effort in meeting one another’s needs, it pays off across the relationship. It’s a bi-directional (chicken-egg) relationship in many cases when it comes to sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction.