REAL ADVICE: How to have a Successful Relationship

couple driving down the coast

You know what I love? Learning. Especially through other people. I’m a person who wants to know where someone’s been, what they’ve done, and learn through their experience. I look at it through a lens knowing their experience is theirs, and mine is mine, but I think learning about and through others helps me prepare for situations I may face and gives me a little heads up on them.

When it comes to relationships, the same rings true! I LOVE listening to other people’s experiences and choices and using that information to navigate my own relationship scenarios. I think there is so much value of hearing others’ situations and decisions, regardless of my level of agreement. If they made a choice I would never make or they did something I would never have thought of, it widens my perspective to all possibilities and reminds me that each person’s situations are personal. And I have the ability to choose what is best for me in that moment.

And with that motivation, I wanted to provide our readers with the experience and wisdom of people other than Darling D. I know what has helped me have a successful long-term relationship, but I am only one person! What about the countless other people who have accomplished the same? I want you to hear from them too!

I interviewed women and men of various ages, all in long-term relationships, asking for their best advice around four key areas. I hope that you are able to take away a pebble, nugget, or mic drop piece of information that widens your perspective and helps you live out your best successful relationship possible!


  • You’ve got to generally have the same fundamental values (lifestyle, life/career goals, views on marriage/kids, religion, morality, etc.). I think a lot of the reason that relationships AREN’T successful is because people ultimately want different things, but they let their mutual attraction override that. That only works for so long—sooner or later these bigger things start coming into play, and if they’re not aligned, they’re going to cause a lot of friction and animosity. ~KW
  • Have at least 1 thing that you like to do together and 1 thing you like to do on your own. My husband and I love to run, so that is our hobby that we get to do together. It brings us closer as a couple because we get uninterrupted time to talk and release those happy endorphins. It is also equally as important to have something you like to do individually, like a hobby. Spending time a part can also bring you closer together. It gives you new topics to talk about and can bring some excitement of sharing something you enjoy with your partner. ~RM
  • I really think you have to like each other, first and foremost. More important than lust, by far, you need to LIKE your significant other and genuinely enjoy your time with them. My husband is honestly the first and only person I can co-exist with daily that I don’t get sick of. It’s just easy. The best relationships are simple! ~Candy
  • Husband: Always laugh. It’s good for the heart and soul…but also, for your relationship. ~Alexander
  • Wife: Pick your battles. This has been a work in progress. I can be a perfectionist and used to let small things annoy me and really fire me up. Fast forward to a decade plus of messy hubby and three small children and I am so much happier letting small things go. It took me time to realize that so many things just do not matter. Spend time exhausting energy on the things that do.  ~Gabriela
  • It starts with the ability to first be independent and able to have a successful relationship with yourself. If you aren’t secure with yourself you won’t be secure with another person. I honestly can’t stand seeing people who constantly are on the phone the entire day texting or calling their mate non-stop. Can you seriously NOT do something for yourself or without someone else’s approval? It’s sad. You have to be able to rely on you because you are truly number 1. ~Margarita
  • Everyone says a relationship should be 50/50, but instead think of it as 60/40. Sometimes you may need your partner to give 60% while you can only give 40% and vice versa. If each of you is always striving to be the 60 for one other then you’ll always have each other’s backs. ~Cortney


  • We let each other be each other. We let go. We are alike in some ways, but so different in most others. People always say to me “you LET him go out with friends”, “you LET him go to concerts, or skiing or golfing?” No, I don’t LET him. He is his own person. ~Carly
  • Husband: She kind of manages my life. I work a lot so it is so nice that she takes care of our family and does it so well. ~Alexander
  • Wife: Yesssssss, I manage our lives. I think one of the best things he does for us is supporting the day to day decisions that I make for our family. (We talk about big stuff but I do the majority of day to day decision making.) We both trust each other that we’re always trying to do what is best for our family. He’s also the very best Dad in the world. I had no idea how much more you could fall in love with someone upon seeing them as a parent to our children. Him being so great for them makes me always want to work hard for us because our kids need us together. ~Gabriela
  • It’s funny how the phases of our lives change our priorities. In the beginning of our relationship, we were definitely more romantic than we are now. I used to send my husband a card once a week in the mail telling him I love him. We left each other notes. I had a journal that would document my thoughts and feelings. Not that kids took away the romance completely, but it’s just DIFFERENT. Now, the key to our marriage is knowing when to give and when to take. The best ‘gift’ my husband can give me is time for myself. There’s nothing better than when he recognizes that I need some time and tells me to go do something for myself. In the same way, I know what is going to push his buttons so I go out of my way to avoid doing the little things that drive him crazy. It’s definitely the little things that make a big difference. ~Candy
  • We’re in the throes of raising very young children so it’s hard to take time away with one another, but I’d say that is one thing we do that helps us. Making a date night at least once a quarter, if not twice. Also, I think we are very good at picking up each other’s slack. If I need a break, he makes time to support me. If he needs to work late or travel extra, I don’t make him feel bad and I support him. You have to find a balance for each other. ~Catherine
  • No matter what is going on in a week, we pick at least one night for “date” night. Whether it’s going out to dinner & a movie, listening to a band or ordering-in dinner and cuddling on the couch watching a movie. It brings us closer together. ~Courtney
  • Communicate!  It won’t always be pretty, clean, easy, or short and sweet, but it is critical. This brings us closer together and prevents full blown fights. When we can communicate and respect each other, it connects on a deeper level. Also, laughing together is pretty great. ~Yilly


  • Sex/sex drive is obviously a very personal thing, but for us, I think good sex is the result of a healthy relationship. If we’re in a good place emotionally, than I think this just comes naturally. I know when either of us are agitated or stressed about the relationship, sex just isn’t as appealing, and when we’re emotionally fulfilled, the opposite is true. I don’t think you can generally use sex to mend relationship problems, but by mending relationship problems, you’ll likely keep your sex life alive and well. ~KW
  • I think it ebbs and flows. There are super-hot weeks, even months–and then times when we are both tired and just need a snuggle more than anything. But the best thing–DON’T stop. The more you do it, the more you want it. Plus…he’s super-hot, so it’s easy. ~Kristi
  • No matter how tired you are, how stressed, how un-sexy you may feel…make time for it, enjoy it, remember why you fell in love in the first place. Remember the butterflies of the first kiss, the excitement when he finally called, remember how you would feel if you couldn’t touch him ever again.  ~Carly
  • Release your inner sex-fiend. It’s important to be open to talking about each other’s fantasies. If you aren’t open to having a conversation about it, then you probably aren’t as comfortable as you should be. Intimacy starts outside of the bedroom (side note, you shouldn’t only be doing it IN the bedroom!). Flirty messages or even sexy photos sent to each other always keep it spicy. We also keep our minds open to new experiences with each other. When we first began dating, our sex life was hot from the start, the chemistry was insane. As we grew closer, we began talking about things we like in the bedroom. He revealed things to me that were far beyond anything I ever thought I would try. And I have been very satisfied with the new things we did together. We’ve selected toys and lingerie together, attended a sex club, flirted and have even discussed adding another for some MFM action. The point is, you have to be open minded and up for exploring your sexuality together. Plus, talking about it is fun! ~TA
  • Maybe I just really love talking, but this is an area to have open dialogue about. Ask about trying new or different things, rather than making assumptions. It’s most fair to ask, and if you get a yes, it’s exciting! Also, a few years ago, for my partner’s birthday, I bought a deck of “Sexy Favor” cards, because I knew he would appreciate having options to make the decision of how we spend an evening sometimes. ~Hayley
  • A LOT OF IT. Seriously. Slow and steady, short and sweet, the more the better. Not to remove the romance or intimacy, but not only does it feel great in the moment, but the after effects–mentally and physically–are so good for you! Hello endorphins! Other than that, another thing that helps is we flirt a lot, and by flirt I mean in the cute ridiculous way, but also hinting and leading up to the naughty bits. Texting about it during the day, a little booty grab on the way to the fridge, a naughty whisper in the ear when we’re out with friends. Subtle, but definitely adds to the anticipation. ~Yilly


  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the beginning it’s easy to make stupid little things a big deal, but relationships are about finding common ground and growing together. It’s better to work through things than have huge blow ups. ~Shivon
  • Be open and honest about everything…from the littlest of things to the big issues. Trust and communication are everything. Your partner can’t read your mind! ~Lilliana
  • Doing weird sh*t keeps things solid. Making weird memories like playing naked Rayman Rabbids on the Wii or passing out at the Nashville Airport and almost missing your flight after way too many shots with soldiers. Or almost missing your cruise ship back home because you are so drunk on love in Key West (ok…also tequila), dancing in the rain at a football game…whatever it is. Live life. GET WEIRD. ~Kristi
  • Building each other up goes a long way. After you get married and the honeymoon phase ends, it’s easy to begin to nag or get on your partner for silly things. Things you would have never cared about when you were first dating.  However, over time, we’ve learned that building each other up, saying something as simple as thank you, and showing your appreciation for each other is so powerful. Take time to notice the little things you and your partner do for each other day in and day out and acknowledge it. You are each other’s biggest cheerleaders in life. ~RM
  • I think that your timeline is your own. There is absolutely no use comparing when you hit certain milestones: moving in, engagement, marriage, etc. Pay less attention to the passage of time and more attention to how you and your partner are feeling in the relationship. If you both are happy, there’s not much more you can ask for than that. ~Hayley
  • Boyfriend: I wish I would have learned earlier that if you aren’t getting what you want or need, it’s okay to end things. I wasted too much time in relationships because I thought I had to stay in it.
  • Girlfriend: This is honestly my first long term relationship. It’s different but so much better than I ever imagined. I always had this ideal of what a relationship would be and how effortless it would be. I should have been more honest with myself and set realistic expectations. Guys aren’t mind readers, we shouldn’t assume things are the way they are. That was a big lesson for me. I thought “if he knows me, he should just KNOW.” ~TA & SM


There is SO much we can learn from other people. Thank you to our real-life relationship advice givers for these gems! And cheers to continued longevity and happiness in your relationship 🙂

What else do you want to know from others? Comment below and I will see if there’s a way to interview people around what you want!

How to Have a Successful Relationship