Image for The secrets to a successful relationship – according to Positive News readers

The secrets to a successful relationship – according to Positive News readers

We asked Positive News readers what makes their relationships go the distance. From kindness and communication, to attending tantra workshops and jumping around in mosh pits, this is what they had to say

We asked Positive News readers what makes their relationships go the distance. From kindness and communication, to attending tantra workshops and jumping around in mosh pits, this is what they had to say

Whoever said romance was dead should take a look at the Positive News inbox. Since we asked readers to share their secrets to a successful relationship, we have been flooded with responses. It’s been inspiring to read them all – and read them all we did. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some key themes emerged. ‘Respect’, ‘trust’ and ‘kindness’ came up a lot. ‘Forgiveness’, too. Many readers also agreed on the need to communicate openly and honestly, and to give their partners the space to develop as individuals. 

A large number of you stressed the importance of keeping the fun going. Others had less conventional – but evidently no less effective – recipes for staying together, including having open relationships. 

Below are some of the responses we received. We couldn’t publish them all. And in the spirit of giving each other space, we had to trim some down to allow for more inclusions. Thank you to everyone who got in touch.

Your secrets to a successful relationship

Code words

“‘Goat!’ This silly word saved our relationship in the early days, while we were still figuring each other out. We decided to use a code word if one of us was upset by something the other person was doing or said. When ‘goat’ was yelled, we stopped everything and talked it out, explaining things from both sides (and making sure to listen and acknowledge the other person’s perspective). Using a silly word really helped break the tension and this process helped us better understand each other. Six years in, we are happily married with our second child on the way.” – K Edmondson, Southsea, England 

Breaking bread

“Myself and my partner have been together for 15 years, and it may sound simple but we always make sure we have breakfast together. It’s a daily ritual for us. We both do our own form of exercise first thing and always meet at 7.30 at the breakfast bar, music on, fresh coffee made. We read a daily stoic reading, and chat about its meaning and our thoughts. We talk about everything and nothing while enjoying our brekkie, watching nature in the garden and the sunrise over the sea. It’s such a crucial part of the day, and one I cherish and look forward to.” – R Burgess, Penarth, Wales

The secret to a successful relationship

Many of you said how important it was to eat meals together. Image: Brooke Lark


“Being fully respectful of each other’s needs. I am an introvert with mental health issues, and my partner is an extrovert with none. He knows I can’t always come with him to social and family things, and I know that he needs to go to them. We have time together and time for ourselves.” – K Richardson, Plymouth, England 

“Curious respect for our differences and similarities, and a want for each other to be well and happy is at the core of our relationship.” – A P, Brighton, England 

“In our 23-year relationship I bring liberal ideology while my partner brings conservative pragmatism. This might sound volatile, but in reality respect brings circumspect thinking.” – Gee 


“We talk about everything, especially things that are annoying us. We try to bring things into the open as soon as possible so it doesn’t get bottled up and multiply. Even when it’s uncomfortable, we make a massive effort to articulate how we are feeling and what would be helpful from the other person.” – A Amerigo, Auckland, New Zealand 

“Do the work. This includes therapy, if needed. Continuously communicate your needs and ensure their needs are met. Always respect each other. And have fun together. Pick a hobby or fun activity to do every once in a while together so you have something to share. It keeps things exciting to see your partner be good at something they love.” – Zee, New Jersey, US 

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“As romantic as it may sound to consider my wife ‘my other half’, or even the piece of the puzzle that completes me, the reality is that we must first be whole individually. Without unconditional love for ourselves, we can only offer conditional love to each other. Only when we are complete as individuals can we begin to truly love and appreciate our partner, along with all of the gifts they bring to this world.” – M Fisher, Nathrop, Colorado, US

“Joy. Joy together, and joy apart. We savour the time we spend with each other, whilst also embracing time spent apart.” – Anonymous, Squamish, BC, Canada 

“Keeping our own identities and individual interests. Remembering we are a team, and therefore not placing blame. Being kind and openly grateful to each other. Not relying on them for our happiness, or to fulfil every need. Making eye contact. Not taking things personally. Joint foot massages on the sofa. Holding each other’s personal challenges with tender care. Remembering that relationships are a chance for learning and growth. Being adventurous and finding fun.” – M Campbell, Inverness, Scotland

“We have been married for nearly 56 years and are still smashingly in love. We think the key to our long, fight-free (arguments, yes) years is mutual support to be the real person we each are. Along the way, we have had many challenges, including losing our first infant son, but rebounded to raise three successful children.” – T and G Shoebridge, Ontario, Canada

The secrets to a successful relationship

Keeping fun going, including in mosh pits, was a recurring theme. Image: Jay Wennington


“A year ago I wished for a third child, but I knew my partner felt strongly that he did not want any more children. I told him how I felt and he said: ‘Okay, if it’s important to you, let’s talk about it.’ I told my friend about this and she thought it was great to be with someone who doesn’t dismiss things outright and is willing to always talk about it. I had never thought about it too much, but it’s something we’ve done since the beginning of our relationship, 20 years ago now. I’m sure it’s been the secret of our relationship’s success. We have since both decided we’d not like to have any more children of our own, but I’m so pleased I was heard by my partner and we thoughtfully considered it together.” – S, County Durham, England 

“I proposed to my partner the night we met and after 38 years together, I think it’s a happy, successful relationship. We’ve been through a lot, including the death of a child, and I think the secret of success is always being able to talk and listen to each other, supporting each other and knowing that we were always in it for the long-term.” – S Harpum, London, England 


“The number one philosophy we live by is that love is a choice, not a feeling. It’s a verb, not starry eyes and fireworks. There can be those, too, but in the dark, hard valleys that seem to have no end, it’s the held hand, and the ‘I’m here’.” – S L, Austin, Texas

Counterintuitively, perhaps, some of you advocated sleeping separately. Image: Lux Graves

Separate beds

“Sleeping separately. Solid, uninterrupted sleep in separate rooms and with bedding of our own choosing has been the bedrock of our happy and resilient relationship for 15 plus years.” – L Patel, Wurundjeri Country, Australia 


“I think the secret of our relationship is honesty. Being able to say whatever comes and whenever it comes. We should first learn to be ourselves and most importantly to love ourselves for what we are.” – L Thorbecke, La Rochelle, France 

“Honesty and communication. We are willing to discuss even the hard things, to admit that sometimes the relationship is hard, that other people are attractive, and that doubts or frustrations pop up. We can do this because we choose to work through them, to choose each other. And also, make space for fun and silliness. Laughing together does wonders.” – J Gunnars, Sweden


“Exploring some things together. We went to a tantra workshop and it was hot.” – Anonymous

“If one of us is struggling, the other one always comes from a place of empathy, trying our best to see things from the other’s point of view. Also, we play video games, do face masks, enjoy mosh pits and shopping for homewares.” – J Scott-Howes, Leicester, England 

“Even though we’re getting older (I’m nearly 65) we make sure to have a date night every few weeks and have sex. Planning it in advance means we can prepare and warm up, it keeps the intimacy going even though our sex drives have diminished, and it’s always lovely to get close in that way. We have a shared passion for nature and we laugh, a lot. It’s the laughter, the hug every morning and the shared joy in our life in the countryside that keep it beautiful. We are still in love.” – R Webb, Dromahair, Ireland

“Probably most importantly, we make sure to have fun together, whether it’s mountain biking, doing jigsaws or even chasing each other round the house.” – Nico, Bristol, England 

Being playful, in bed and out of it, was essential to many of you. Image: Womanizer Toys


“Making an effort to be genuinely kind to each other is, in my view, the most valuable key to a relationship’s success, and the best way we have to show love.” – Jess, London 

“Affection generates affection. Loving words make you feel more loving.” – BRJ, Oxfordshire, England 


“Say thank you for absolutely every single thing your partner does — making the bed, washing, tidying up, making a cuppa. Raise problems when they’re small and speak calmly (how you start is how you finish). Take a keen interest in the important things in their life. Be joyful and playful.” – W Nash, Sydney, Australia 


“Like many men, my husband is not particularly loving, affectionate or demonstrative. He is almost totally unable to verbalise what he feels. Although disappointing, I slowly recognised that he expresses love pretty much only by what he does. His vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc. are acts of devotion. His house and yard maintenance are demonstrations of commitment to our future. The gushy stuff is not going to happen here, but I cherish as treasures these ongoing and consistent acts of pure love. It’s the best he can do (for 43 years) and I love him just as he is.” – S Thompson, Richmond 

The secrets to a successful relationship

Many of you agreed that being willing to discuss the difficult stuff is key. Image: Cloud1902

Owning mistakes

“One of our successful relationship tools is admitting when you have acted in a manner that is not helpful to the relationship.” – S Wooster, Alton, England 


“Keep the relationship open for the other to explore with other people, sexually and emotionally.” – V Sentis, Santiago, Chile 


“Try and surprise them once in a while by doing the unexpected for them.” – J Whittington, Kent, England 


“We think of it as a balanced boat. I want him to be happy and he wants me to be happy. Sometimes one person struggles and we have to shift the boat to compensate. For 33 years, marriage and parenthood have brought us both great joy. It looks easy but it takes work. Every day. And the rewards are worth every effort. I’m pretty sure I am the luckiest woman in the world.” – S Lawrence, Chelwood Gate, England  


“I think you have to let go of the notion that your relationship has to be perfect, that’s impossible. Forgive quickly, learn from mistakes and try and find laughter in hard times. Do not compare your relationship to other peoples, yours is unique.” – Anonymous 


“Faith has been the driver and motivator to our keeping our love alive. We agree to have a deep commitment to making it work between us, which can fuel your resolve when things get tough.” – L Lou, US

Main image: Flashpop

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