If you were to ask someone what the most important thing was in a relationship, you would probably get many different answers, but for the most part, there would be one recurring theme: sex. And don’t get me wrong, sex is great and all, but in all honesty there are so many far more important things.

To make a relationship work, sex alone will not suffice. There has to be a deeper connection to hold the relationship together when all else fails. While any two people can have sex- it takes much more than that to build love. And while a lot of things that may fall on this list may sound obvious – there are quite a few that you’ve likely never considered before. So, take what you need and leave the rest. Here are 12 things in a relationship that are far more important than sex.

1. A shared vision.

In a relationship, you are a part of a team. But, to be on a team, you need to be on the same page. That is where the need for shared goals and a shared vision is. Of course, you will both have interests of your own- but you also need to have common ground with your partner.

2. Consideration.

While you may not be able to read your partner’s mind, you can most definitely be considerate of how they feel and what they need. For example, if you know your partner has had a bad day, it might not be the best time to bring up something stressful to them. Or, if your partner is sick, be considerate and do something kind and helpful for them.

3. Respect.

Without respect, you have nothing. You may not always see eye to eye with your partner, but you should always treat them with respect. You don’t try to force your partner to see things from a different perspective or treat them harshly when they upset you. You both understand that your differences are what makes you, you.

4. Trust.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship without trust, then you likely already know how disastrous that can be. Honestly, a relationship without any trust is doomed to failure. You have to be able to trust in someone to love them and to believe that you can make it through everything together.

5. Autonomy.

It might sound counterintuitive, but you have to maintain your individuality in a relationship. A lot of times, people believe obsession is real love, but that isn’t it at all. Real love is being in a relationship in which you can live your own life, they can live theirs, and then you also have the two of you as a couple. When you mesh into one big couple blob, you lose the side of yourself that your partner fell in love with and was attracted to.

6. Boundaries.

Boundaries are EVERYTHING. in relationships, boundaries are especially important. Your partner isn’t an extension of you or vice versa. Boundaries are invisible lines that we draw in our relationships to protect our peace. They explain how much you are willing to give and take before you decide that you’ve had enough.

7. Unconditional love.

You cannot enter into a relationship to change your partner. You have to decide to love and accept them for who they are while holding space for them to grow. Boundaries pick up where unconditional love has to stop. But unconditional love is you saying that you love your partner through the hard times and the good.

8. Compliments.

No matter how long you’ve been together, you never need to stop flirting with your partner. And it’s so easy to notice that your partner looks nice and to tell them that you notice. Even just a simple expression of gratitude can go a long way in love.

9. Support.

When your partner tells you they have a dream or want to go for their vision, don’t shut them down. Support them and encourage them and have trust in them. You are a part of a team, and vice versa. Without support, a relationship begins to feel like a war zone. But support does also work both ways.

10. Laughter.

Laughter is the best medicine, and coincidentally is also one of the leading things people look for in a life partner. When things get hard, having someone to laugh at the small stuff with makes a big difference.

11. Adventure.

Taking time to experience something new with your partner is beneficial. And the more adrenaline your adventure causes you to release (the more exciting it is) the better you bond with your partner. One could even argue that adventure was better than sex when it comes to the bonding hormone oxytocin.

12. Affection.

Affection for the sake of affection is one of the nicest things in the world. Nothing feels better than snuggling up with your partner on the couch and hugging up to them for comfort.

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