7 Secrets to a Long-Lasting Relationship

Whether you’re just starting a committed relationship or you’ve got 50 years under your belt, whether your song is "Thinking Out Loud or "Love Me Tender," whether your next anniversary is paper or diamond, we all need to tend to our relationships. This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen offers 7 science-backed secrets to making a relationship last.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
6-minute read
Episode #229

But not everyone can rise to meet expectations—when individuals had high expectations but their partners had lousy communication skills or fought dirty, those same high expectations set the couple up for disappointment.

The take home? Expect a lot of your partner, but only what they’re capable of. 

Secret #6: Lie to yourself a little.

Remember when you first fell in love and you thought your partner was the greatest, the cutest, the smartest? Keep them on that pedestal, at least a little. A study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that harboring illusions about your relationship went along with greater satisfaction, love, and trust, as well as less conflict. 

Harboring illusions about your relationship went along with greater satisfaction, love, and trust.

Furthermore, the stronger your initial illusions, the greater likelihood of your relationship lasting over the years. Even when he gets bald and paunchy, or she’s sporting a mud mask and granny panties, they’ll still be your Prince or Princess Charming.  

Secret #7: Commit to commitment itself.

Making a relationship last is more than committing to another person. It’s also committing to the idea of commitment. Couple therapists in training are taught to pay attention to three things in the therapy room—each partner, and also the relationship. Every couple creates their own little culture, and it’s vital to note if it’s a culture of love, support, and compromise, or one of criticism, insecurity, and power struggles.

Seeing a partnership as something the two of you build together every day keeps you in the game much more than simply seeing the relationship as a way to get your individual needs met. 

To sum it all up, the grass is greener where you water it. So tend to yourself, each other, and your relationship, and watch your garden grow. It may not always be a rose garden, but together, it will be yours.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen was the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast from 2014 to 2019. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her debut book, HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, was published in March 2018.