Basic Rules for Successful Relationships

With all of the advice out there, relationships can get pretty complicated. Everyone has a formula, method, technique, or approach for the best relationship. While all of this relationship advice can be helpful…it can also become confusing and overwhelming.

Given that, when managing a relationship, it pays to start with the basics! Sure, all of that detailed advice is helpful later on. To start, however, it is best to have a firm foundation in the simple and powerful steps that lead to relationship success.

In this article, I will indeed share with you these basic principles. I will also include links to my other writings for more information, elaboration, and tips. Read on for simple solutions to the complicated world of relationships!

5 Basic Steps for Successful Relationships

To make relationships simple, just focus on the following steps…

1) Connect Deeply

Whether your relationship is newly-formed or already long-lasting, it can be enhanced by building a deeper connection with your partner. This is usually known by common terms such as trust, understanding, intimacy, and rapport. Essentially, beyond the passion that initially drew you to one another, additional points of sharing, exchange, and appreciation must also grow.

Unfortunately, many relationships go in the opposite direction. Partners become critical, judgmental, and neglectful of one another. Good feelings evaporate as each person shares less, cares less, and goes their own way.

To make sure such relationship tragedies don’t happen, it is helpful to stay open. It also pays for partners to develop strong rapport by being genuine. Empathy and respect for thoughts, feelings, and emotions also go a long way. Finally, it also helps to maintain a warm and caring environment in the relationship, accepting differences, and treating each other as valuable people.

For more on this topic, see:

2) Love Passionately

Although the prevailing sentiment is that passion cools in long-term relationships, that certainly doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, passion is the very motivation to yearn for, seek out, and connect with a lover. It is the chemistry that keeps two people excited and wanting more. It is also essential for relationship longevity.

Nevertheless, it is an often-overlooked aspect of relationships. Too often, couples get “comfortable” with each other. That comfort leads to a lack of effort to be as romantic, attractive, or passionate. Therefore, relationships get dull, satisfaction plummets, and couples find themselves falling into a passionless friendship – or out of love entirely.

It is an unfortunate situation, especially when passion only takes a little effort to keep it burning. Essentially, couples can go a long way simply by keeping up their appearances – making an effort to groom well, pick some flattering clothing, acting masculine/feminine and pleasant, and watching their weight. Beyond that, physical affection is also key. Kissing, hugging, and touching on a regular basis sets off a number of chemicals that make couples feel good, connected, and passionate.

For more on this topic, see:

3) Address Problems

Even the best relationships have problems. This is where communication, negotiation, and maturity come in. No one is perfect and each person in a relationship will have their own wants, need, and desires. Sometimes, conflict will arise.

Commonly, such conflict and partner mistakes are not handled well. On one hand, some partners tend to bury their heads in the sand, avoiding seeing or dealing with the issues. On the other hand, some partners hold a grudge forever, never forgiving or forgetting. Neither of these strategies actually “fix” the problem and allow the couple to move on.

Therefore, it can be helpful for people to know how to properly and effectively point out concerns and correct a partner’s bad behavior. Quick forgiveness doesn’t teach anything. Prolonged punishment only leads to hard feelings. But, discussion, correction, and steps to resolve the problem are effective. By truly addressing the problem, creating fair consequences, and providing alternative behaviors that satisfy everyone’s needs, true harmony can be reached in relationships.

For more on this topic, see:

4) Practice Gratitude

Relationship partners do a lot for each other. They are often essential in each other’s lives. In fact, such a working interaction is one of the standard features of a relationship. Two people coming together to each make each other better than they would be separately.

In practice though, partners can sometimes become invisible. The day-to-day support and kindnesses can get overlooked. In that case, one or both partners can be taken for granted. In such a situation, motivation to continue such caring behaviors can disappear and hurt feelings can develop.

Such relationship issues, however, have a simple fix. Taking just a moment to be grateful for each other can keep such day-to-day operations running smoothly. A few kind words here…a thank-you there. Just a bit of recognition, appreciation, and support a day can go a long way!

For more on that topic, see:

5) Remember to Reward

Relationships are meant to be rewarding and fulfilling. People are supposed to feel good and get their needs met through them. They seek support, love, sexual satisfaction, and a whole bunch more.

In practice, relationships sometimes miss that goal. Pleasing behaviors often do not get the responses or rewards they should. Also, sometimes displeasing interactions get more attention and reaction than positive gestures. So, relationships degrade into bad behavior, because whining, complaining, or demanding gets needs met more than positive interaction.

Fortunately, all it takes to turn the situation around is a bit of proper reward. Making sure a partner’s needs are met when they perform a pleasant behavior can go a long way towards ensuring that behavior continues. We all have a tendency to remember and repeat behaviors that bring us desired outcomes. Therefore, by treating a partner well when they behave in a pleasing manner, both individuals are satisfied. Behaviors that are rewarded flourish – and relationships that are rewarding overall prosper.

For more on that topic: see:


Overall, relationships don’t have to be a mystery. They don’t really even need to be complicated. They just require a bit of daily thought and maintenance. The right word here, the right touch there…and relationship satisfaction can indeed last a lifetime.

Please leave me your thoughts. Share, like, tweet, and comment below.

Until next time…happy dating and relating!

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor

Photo: Love in Bloom by frannie60 at

© 2011-2012 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.

About Dr. Jeremy Nicholson

My name is Dr. Jeremy Nicholson. I am a Doctor of Social and Personality Psychology, with a research and writing focus on influence, persuasion, dating, and relationships. I also hold Master’s degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Social Work. I currently lives in Boston, Mass.
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