Everyone who begins a new relationship—and everyone who is already in a relationship—wants it to be great. After all, nobody is looking for a bad relationship. No one in history ever said, “Hey, my relationship with my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend is too wonderful. How can I make it crappy?”

So, if everyone wants a great relationship, it might be a good idea to think about the keys to a great relationship. I’ve been pondering this, and I’ve come up with the Top 5 keys to great relationships. So here’s my list:

1. Mutual Trust and Honesty

It’s impossible to have a great, lasting relationship without mutual trust. You have to trust that your partner will do what he or she says he or she will do. And you have to trust your partner to NOT do anything stupid that will jeopardize the relationship. A crucial element in creating and maintaining trust is honesty. If you don’t believe what your partner says, you’ll never be able to build the kind of trust necessary for a relationship to be great.

2. Chemistry and Attraction

In the beginning of a relationship, chemistry and attraction are often what fans the flames of desire. If there’s no spark between you, if there’s no promise of physical passion, there’s a good chance that a relationship will never really blossom. But what about later, when that first rush of attraction has mellowed and you’re not tearing each other’s clothes off anymore—or at least not as often? For a relationship to be great and stay great, there still needs to be some chemistry between you. This attraction may have morphed into satisfaction and respect, but even in decades-old relationships there is still the slow burn of passion that can be ignited when the circumstances are right.

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3. Compatibility

Compatibility is all about how you get along with another person on a daily basis. Being compatible is about big things. (What’s your temperament like? Are you argumentative and your partner hates to argue? Are you a slob but your sweetie is a neat freak?) And it’s also about little things. (Do you leave the toilet seat up? Do you chew with your mouth open?) All of these things—and thousands more—add up to form a patchwork quilt of compatibility issues. If your quilt doesn’t have a lot of the same personality and lifestyle “patches” are your partner’s, the two of you are probably going to have some major compatibility issues that could doom your relationship.

4. Common Goals and Values

You know how you’re not supposed to talk about certain topics on a first or second date? Things like politics, religion, ex-spouses, money and whether or not Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. Talking about these topics can kill a date before it even has a chance to become a relationship. But maybe that’s why you SHOULD talk about these things during an early date. If you don’t share common values, goals and beliefs, your relationship will constantly be challenged. It’s not impossible to have a strong relationship with someone who does not share your values and beliefs, but it’s going to be challenging—and probably not much fun.

5. Forgiveness and Understanding

None of us is perfect, and there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. That’s why the ability to forgive is so crucial to a great relationship. If you can’t forgive your partner when he screws up, your relationship is going to suffer. If you don’t understand where your partner is coming from, she will continue to baffle and frustrate you. Forgiveness and understanding—and the communication skills required to put forgiveness and understanding to work—will help take your relationship from good to great.

So that’s my Top 5 list of keys to a great relationship. What’s on your list?


Chad Stone is the author of the critically acclaimed The Love Magnet Rules," which contains 101 tips for meeting, dating and keeping a new love. He shares his own personal brand of dating and relationship advice on his website at www.chadstone.us. In addition to writing and speaking on love, dating, and relationships, Chad Stone owns a successful marketing and public relations business. He lives with his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico.