The 5 Best Kept Secrets to Starting a Relationship Right

Relationships are a beautiful gift. In fact, they are the most important gift in life–the key to happiness, fulfillment, and success born of confidence. There’s no secret in that just like any venture in life, it’s best to start a new relationship right. It’s important to be sure that you and your significant other are doing the very best you can to maximize the support and enjoyment you will both receive from spending a lot of time together.

Here are the five best kept relationship secrets to starting your relationship off right, giving both of you the best chance for a happy and long lasting relationship.

Be the right person. Many of us spend years of our lives searching for the perfect person. But we are often disappointed to find that our prince or princess charming turns out to be imperfect, just like we are. That was the case for me. I started and ended a series of relationships in search of my perfect Princess. But, over time, I realized that the major difficulty was me. I was the one who needed to change, and I learned that it’s just as important to learn how to be the right person as it is to find the right person. So I suggest that you avoid my mistakes and work on improving yourself, rather than repeatedly searching for that perfect other who will (not) rescue you.

Talk About Money. Money affects us all every single day, and is too important to ignore. One of the worst mistakes that couples can make is to avoid a discussion about money. This includes how you will deal with shared expenses (whether you’re living together or not) and your general financial philosophy (are you a saver or a spender?). If you aren’t clear on these issues early in your relationship, conflicts will inevitably bite you and your bank account later on.

More Is Not Always Better. When a relationship begins to flower, you’re likely to be infatuated. Everything is perfect. The mere thought of the other can set you on fire and all you want to do is spend every waking moment together. But it’s also important for each of you to protect and value the other’s individuality and personal space. If you fail to create appropriate boundaries for yourselves within a relationship, you’ll end up smothering each other and one or both of you will want to escape. Each of you should maintain your own interests, hobbies, and time to yourselves. The space you give each other will help your relationship to breathe and grow. You don’t have to be together every moment of every day. Ask any retired couple.

Pay attention to your core values. No matter how compatible you may seem, there will be a time in every relationship when the two of you will disagree. These differences can be as superficial as having different tastes in movies or food, in which case they’re pretty easy to navigate. But often you’ll find that you disagree on fundamental issues, like whether or not you want children, to practice a certain religion, or how to earn and spend money. It’s important to explore early on your “core” values so you don’t discover in a few weeks or months that your partner can’t live without a cat and you can’t live with one. That doesn’t mean you have to agree. It does mean that you must be clear about how you differ and how you plan to deal with those differences in the future.

Pace Yourself. A relationship is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. it’s important to pace yourself. If you move too fast too soon you might seem desperate, or your partner might feel crowded. Give yourselves time to get to know each other before taking big leaps in your mutual commitment. This can be difficult in the midst of seemingly overwhelming emotions, but as William Congreve wrote in 1693, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”

Alan Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of PEOPLE TOOLS, a series of self-help books that give powerful advice on building happy and meaningful relationships. He has shared his wisdom with national audiences including the Steve Harvey and The Meredith Vieira shows. Alan’s charismatic optimism and kind heart is the secret to his connection with his readers.

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