6 Subtle Changes That'll Instantly Improve Your Long Term Relationship

We've said it once and we'll say it again—the romantic world is a jungle.

Considering all relationships take work, it's either eat or be eaten out there. Or, put less dramatically, put the effort in to have a healthy romance or settle for a string of painful breakups. And if you think being with someone for a long time means that you can stop putting effort into your relationship, think again. Even a long term romance can always be improved upon.

So how can you be the best S.O. possible for your long term partner? Keep scrolling for six subtle changes that'll instantly improve your long term relationship.

1. Practice Empathy

Being a supportive S.O. is about so much more than simply listening to your partner. It doesn't do much good to be a sounding board if you don't really care about what your significant other is saying. This is where practicing empathy comes in. Instead of hearing your partner's woes and occasionally inserting your advice, try to put yourself in your partner's shoes and feel their emotions with them. Not only with this allow you to provide them with better feedback, it will also increase the emotional connection and bond between the two of you, allowing you to grow closer and more in sync with each other.

Friends: Chandler staring at Monica

(Friends via NBC)


2. Pick Your Battles

When it comes to long term relationships, not everything is worth fighting over. If your partner is doing something that threatens your values, the foundation of your relationship or the level of respect between the two of you, battle away. But if you're just vaguely annoyed by a single, isolated incident, is it really worth starting an argument to fix it? Part of building a healthy relationship is picking your battles—aka not starting an entire war over a minor disagreement. Learn what's really important to the overall state of your relationship and what would probably be better left unsaid. Your partner will thank you for your self-control and you're sure to be happier with the reduced number of arguments in your relationship.


3. Put Your Phones Away

Ah, technology. Although a lot of positives come from our smartphone-based world, there are quite a few negatives, as well—not the least of which being that phones make it difficult for us to be truly present. If you spend all your hangouts with your S.O. scrolling through Instagram and catching up on your Snapchat messages, you're not really spending quality time together. It keeps you from feeling connected to each other and truly enjoying one another's company. Setting certain "no phones allowed" times will help you to engage in your relationship, improve your conversations and grow closer together. Isn't a few Instagram-free hours worth all those perks?

The Vampire Diaries: Elena resting her head on Damon's shoulder

(The Vampire Diaries via The CW)


4. Use 'I' Not 'You'

The "I" not "you" approach is the ultimate rule for healthy conflict resolution between couples. Basically, it states that you should focus on your emotions and needs, rather than blaming your S.O. for the way that you feel. For example, instead of saying "You never listen to me," you say "I don't feel very heard right now." This shifts the conversation from blaming your partner and putting them on the defensive to working together and reaching a solution that meets everyone's needs. It's a good tactic to keep in mind in all aspects of your relationship, as it will make for much healthier and more productive conversations.


5. Say Thank You

As you become closer to someone, it's easier and easier to take them for granted. You start to expect certain things, so you forget to show gratitude for everything that your partner does for you. But saying thank you to your partner is a perfectly easy way to communicate that you notice their efforts and you appreciate everything they do for you. Even if it's something as simple as sending a good morning text, make time to tell your partner how much you appreciate the little things. A little thank you will go a long way.

How I Met Your Mother: Lily smiling at Marshall

(How I Met Your Mother via CBS)


6. Don't Cancel

Much like showing gratitude to your partner, keeping your commitments and plans with them becomes less and less important the more you're dating. You know they'll be understanding when things come up, so it's easier to cancel on them or ask for a raincheck. All this does, however, is push your S.O. lower and lower on your priority list, keeping the two of you from spending quality time together. Don't cancel on your partner—not only because it's important to show that you're a reliable and stable S.O., but also because it's important for your relationship that you make them a priority.


Ever been curious about your LTR personality? Click HERE for how you act in a long-term relationship, based on your zodiac sign.