Too Many Settle For An 'Average' Relationship. Here's How To Reclaim The Love You Deserve.

"Be present with your partner."

When it comes to love, most people dream about finding their "happily ever after." However, in reality, most are willing to settle for less than they deserve. As a recent poll conducted by EdenFantasys indicates, many American relationships barely receive a passing grade. After surveying 2,000 American adults about different aspects of their relationships, the adult toy retailer discovered that, on average, most participants gave their partner an 80 percent rating — which amounts to a meager B minus.

Furthermore, many of those polled gave their partners a C (75-76 percent) in both spontaneity and making an effort with friends, while foundational attributes, such as listening skills, patience, romantic gestures, and showing affection in public, scored marginally higher at C+ (77-78 percent). Making an effort with family and parents, fashion sense, and film and TV taste landed in the B-range (80 percent), while kissing and friendship with one's partner scored a solid 85 percent.

Yet, while life coach and relationship expert expert Diana Mitchem encourages people to ask for what they want, most are willing to settle for someone who fits society's definition of "perfect," even if they don't align with their personal preferences.

"Women are told by parents, society, their own negative self-talk, etc., that they must fit some mold rather than lead with their own preferences," Mitchem told Bustle. "[T]here is no need to feel guilty when you are personally clear about the kind of person with whom you are looking to connect." Not speaking up will ultimately lead to long-term dissatisfaction and inevitable unhappiness for one or both parties.

But how can couples transform their average relationship into an A+ partnership? Well, much like one's education, success requires concentrated effort. You're going to have to work for it.

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Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, emphasizes that couples must actively care for both their relationship with each other and their relationship with themselves. As time passes, couples often lose the spark that initially attracted them to one another and, in the process, many lose touch with themselves. Thus, before signing your relationship's death warrant, make an effort to reconnect. For instance, try putting your phone down more often.

"Be present with your partner. No Instagram, Twitter, Facebook scrolling while you're holding a conversation," Dr. Brown told A Plus. "If you're attention is on something else, then you're not really listening, are you? It's OK to have a show that you always watch together, but if all you're doing is watching TV and not connecting, that's a problem. And absolutely, no phones allowed in the bedroom. This is your time to connect and be intimate and you cannot do that with a phone in your hand."

Brown also suggests embracing "date night" to rekindle the magic that's fizzled.

"Everyone mentions this. And there's a reason. It works for couples who truly care for each other," Brown said. "Remember how many fun dates you went on in your first year of the relationship? Do that more often! We get comfortable with our spouse or significant other and can start to take them for granted. Show them how truly special they are to you by planning fun dates. On a budget? Google: Fun Cheap Date Ideas. If money is not an issue, indulge yourselves! Go on that exotic vacation you always talked about. You have my permission to use your screens for this tip!"

Dr. Brown adds that self-care can be crucial to your relationship's health, as well, because doing what makes you feel good can ultimately transform your relationship for the better. "I'm saying do little things for yourself that make you feel good, healthy, and attractive," he explained. "It isn't just about self-indulgence. Just as they say you should drink water BEFORE you feel thirsty because once you have pangs of thirst, you're already dehydrated. Refilling your figurative well is no different."

If you and your partner are still struggling, couple's therapy might also be an option as you assess what you both want from your relationship and whether you can satisfy these needs for one another.

"Many couples find that it can be very helpful to attend pre-marital counseling or marriage counseling to help assess their current relationship to see if it is worth the effort or perhaps not a good match.  More often than not, it can be very helpful to have the benefit of an unbiased third party who has experience in helping couples navigate these important issues," Dr. Brown said. "Another thing you can do is to think about just what your 'must haves' are.  What are your bottom lines and what can you compromise on?"

"It is important to also know if your relationship may, in fact, be toxic. If that is the case, it may very well be time to move on. Nobody should condemn themselves to living in a toxic relationship, potentially for the majority of their adult life," he added. "It's not always so easy to see what is happening right in front of us. Sometimes we are so close to something, so immersed in the situation, that we don't even see this coming."

People need to recognize that ending an unhealthy or dead-end relationship doesn't mean they've failed. Instead, it indicates that they've grown during their time together and learned what they truly want from life. Parting ways takes a great deal of strength, and even though breakups can hurt, knowing what's best for you and acting upon this knowledge will inevitably beget happiness.

Cover image via fizkes / Shutterstock

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