25 Relationship Rules to Set for Success

What are the rules within a loving relationship?
on June 03, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

Navigating the waters of romance and partnership can often feel like trying to assemble IKEA furniture without the manual — a mix of excitement, confusion, and the occasional need for a break!

So, we're diving into the nitty-gritty of what makes couples tick, with relationship rules to suit every couple. Think of it as a love map for the modern couple, complete with signposts that help you avoid those pesky relational potholes. 

Whether you're in the honeymoon phase or have been navigating the seas of coupledom for what seems like an eternity, these rules are like the secret ingredients for relationship success. Remember, it's not about following a strict set of guidelines —  it's about finding what works uniquely for you and your partner to foster a thriving, loving, and enduring partnership.

What are relationship rules? 

Relationship rules are guidelines or boundaries put in place by couples to ensure a healthy, happy long-term relationship. These ground rules allow both couples to have the kind of relationship they desire (and deserve!) 

These healthy relationship rules shouldn’t feel scary or strict, as they are there to ensure the relationship is a safe space for both individuals. Instead of seeing them as restrictive, couples who set relationship rules do so to put everything in place so they have the best chance at success! 

Relationship rules vary from couple to couple, with some people preferring to set guidelines around their sex life, or how they will cope during tough times. 

Are relationship rules important? 

Not every couple sets relationship rules, as they might fear this kind of structure will impact their true love dynamic. 

However, relationship rules can be really helpful when understanding your own needs, as well as your partners. It also helps couples define what they consider non-negotiable when it comes to a long-term partner or any dealbreakers they may have. 

While you don’t need to draw up a strict list of relationship rules, discussing these guidelines with your partner can help you formulate the kind of future you want. With such a clear strategy in place, it can prevent conflicts before they arise and help couples sidestep silly breakups or arguments. 

What are some good relationship rules?

Every couple has a different concept of what a happy relationship looks like, so naturally relationship rules are completely subjective based on your needs. 

In our list, we’ve suggested a few important relationship rules that every couple should consider when devising a long-lasting relationship. These rules can be used as a starting point for you and your partner to set healthy boundaries in place, with the flexibility to add more ideas that affect your everyday life. 

1. Effective communication 

We’ve said it a million times, but communication is the foundation of any romantic relationship!

Even when you’re putting relationship rules in place — it can’t happen without communication! No matter what issue is at hand, or what is happening in your relationship, your partner should double as your best friend, and you should feel like you can talk to them about anything. 

Setting rules around communication could include discussing how best to communicate criticism, or when you want to talk about your relationship's future. 

2. Structured quality time 

Many couples like to put some rules in place around quality time, such as date nights or getaways. 

For some couples, it’s just about setting aside quality time for each other every day, rather than focusing on just the bigger events. For example, it could be putting your phones away before bed, or always having a sit-down dinner together every evening — so you have time for deeper conversation. 

If you’re a super busy couple, it could just be promising to answer the Paired daily question and deepen your connection in this way. 

3. Love language recognition 

Do you know your partner’s love language

It might seem like an odd relationship rule, but constructing guidelines that are tailored to your partner’s love language can really help you understand your loved one’s needs. 

For example, if their love language is physical touch, they could request a daily hug or moment of affection each day. While it can feel a bit structured, it’s an easy way to tailor your actions to your partner’s needs and create a mutually satisfying relationship. 

4. No infidelity 

This one needs no explanation, and in monogamous relationships, it’s likely an unspoken and obvious rule. 

However, it might also be helpful to discuss what you consider to be infidelity in your relationship. Everyone has different barometers around this topic, so it’s important to open the conversation so everyone is in the loop. 

For example, do you think watching porn is cheating? Or do you think your partner liking a sexy selfie on Instagram is being unfaithful? 

5. Mutual respect 

Another rule that should be a non-negotiable. 

Even though it might be a given, it’s important to set boundaries around what you consider to be disrespectful in a relationship — so you are both clear from the outset. 

6. Be open about finances

Money can be a contentious topic for a lot of couples, and for a lot of people generally!

Putting rules in place around finances, budgets, and even savings can really help you develop a successful relationship. For example, you can set rules around how much savings you put in your joint bank account, or set financial goals that you keep each other accountable for. 

Setting these guidelines around money can help to take the stigma out of financial topics, and allow you to share responsibility with your significant other. 

7. Positive critique 

Knowing how to respond to critique is a tricky thing, especially if the critique is coming from your partner. 

It can be helpful to set rules around criticism, and how you would prefer to be approached with positive or negative feedback. This can prevent arguments or squabbles over these issues, as you’ve already devised a strategy on how to deal with this relationship hurdle. 

8. Saying sorry 

In a relationship, you have to get pretty good at saying sorry. 

It sounds counterintuitive, but there are many times in a relationship where you just have to swallow your pride and give a proper apology. Setting some guidelines around how you authentically apologize, and how you make your partner feel heard can be really helpful when overcoming conflict. 

9. Stay laughing 

Relationships can get tough, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be super serious all the time.

It can be helpful to set relationship rules around those serious moments, and when is the right time to inject a little humor!  

10. Focus on physical intimacy 

Physical intimacy isn't just about sex, it’s about maintaining a physical connection!

Whether it's a regular cuddle session, holding hands, or a passionate embrace, these actions help to reinforce your bond. It's important to agree on how often and what kind of physical intimacy you both need, ensuring that both partners feel desired and connected.

This structuring can feel strange at first, but catering to your sex life and your physical needs is the kind of rule you won’t regret!

11. Social media guidelines 

In today's digital age, what happens online can significantly impact your relationship. Setting rules about social media usage can prevent misunderstandings and protect your privacy.

For example, do you want your partner to post on social media about your relationship? Or, do you think you should set times that you’re both off your phones? 

12. Boundaries around alone time 

Alone time is vital for personal growth and rejuvenation. Agreeing on how much 'me time' each person needs ensures that both partners can recharge without feeling neglected. 

Whether it’s a quiet hour with a book or a solo walk, respecting these boundaries is key. Putting these guidelines in place early on can help avoid any confrontation or misunderstandings around your alone time — making everything clear-cut from the start! 

13. Reliability

Being reliable forms the backbone of trust. 

Agreeing to always follow through on promises and commitments, whether big (like showing up to important events) or small (like doing household chores), strengthens trust and mutual respect in a relationship. 

For some couples, this reliability is a given, but if one or both of you are juggling work commitments, it might be easiest to set some rules in place so you can both rely on each other despite any obstacles. 

14. Intentionally building trust 

Trust doesn't just happen; it’s built through consistent actions and choices. 

Establishing rules that promote honesty, transparency, and fidelity lays a strong foundation for unwavering trust between partners. Remember that trust doesn’t mean an invasion of privacy, it’s about building a safe environment where you both feel respected and free to grow. 

15. Non-sexual physical touch

This rule emphasizes the importance of physical contact that isn’t sexually driven. 

Our research shows how valuable non-sexual touch is to couples, with 64% of people saying that this is the form of non-sexual touch that makes them feel closest to their partner. 

A gentle touch, a reassuring hug, or a playful tickle can be powerful in maintaining a warm and loving connection. 

16. Healthy arguments 

Disagreements are normal, but how you handle them matters. 

Setting rules for fair fighting – no name-calling, taking turns to speak, and not bringing up past grievances – can help resolve conflicts without hurting each other.

17. Honesty 

Honesty is more than not lying, it's about being open and transparent. Opting for transparency in your relationship can help to foster a safe and trusting environment in your relationship. 

Agreeing to always speak the truth about your feelings, thoughts, and desires, even when it’s uncomfortable, fosters a deeper connection and trust. Using Paired as a starting point can help you broach these conversations without worrying about any awkwardness or confrontation. 

18. Defending each other

Agreeing to always have each other’s back in public and private reinforces your partnership. 

It’s about supporting each other’s viewpoints and not undermining one another, especially in front of others. While it may just seem like a joke or a throwaway comment, you should always stand up for your partner in both public and private. 

This might feel like a given, but it’s not a bad thing to set rules on! 

19. Celebrating special days 

Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, or personal achievements, making an effort to celebrate these occasions adds joy and appreciation to your relationship. It’s about acknowledging and valuing each other’s milestones.

Make sure that you never forget your special days by adding them to your Paired relationship timeline!

20. Empathy 

Developing a rule around always trying to understand and feel what your partner is experiencing strengthens emotional connection. It's about validating each other's feelings and offering support, not just solutions.

When you’re partner is going through a rough time, it can be helpful to implement a rule where you always ask them ‘Do you want solutions or support?’

21. Forgiveness 

Deciding to forgive each other for mistakes and not hold grudges can be liberating. It’s about understanding that everyone errs and focusing on healing and moving forward together.

Setting rules around giving each other space after an argument, or when to start that first healing conversation can be really helpful when preserving trust and providing mutual support. 

22. Supporting individuality 

While being a couple is wonderful, maintaining individuality is crucial. Encouraging each other to pursue personal interests, hobbies, and friendships ensures that both partners continue to grow independently.

Ideally, you should both be each other’s greatest cheerleader and encourage your loved one to pursue their own dreams and goals as much as possible. 

23. Imperfections 

Love isn’t perfect, and accepting that your partner isn’t perfect is a key part of any relationship.

Accepting and embracing each other's flaws, instead of trying to change them, can enhance the authenticity and depth of your connection. It's about loving each other as you are, imperfections included.

Before you meet your partner, you might think that you have a certain ‘type’, but it’s important to put this to one side when you fall in love! 

24. Be creative

Keeping the spark alive in a relationship often requires creativity!

Whether it's planning surprise dates, trying new activities together, or finding unique ways to express love, keeping things fresh and exciting is vital. 

25. Putting your best foot forward

Not every day is going to be a picnic, but it’s all about your perspective! 

This rule is about consistently trying to be the best version of yourself for your partner. It’s not about perfection, but about effort and growth, showing that you value your partner and the relationship enough to keep improving.

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