It’s easy to scroll and scroll and scroll through Instagram and feel overwhelmed by all the “perfect” couples there are. Those photos at the beach, or eating lunch with a sappy caption, which is just designed to make you thin “couple goals”. But really, the whole idea that “couple goals” is something to be photographed and shared on social media is crazy.

We all know that couple that had the most beautiful Instagram feed. Only to break up suddenly as they weren’t actually dealing with the real things that a relationship needs. The problem is this creates unrealistic expectations about what a healthy relationship looks like! Relationships can be work but just because the real work of a relationship doesn’t garner any likes and doesn’t look good on social media, doesn’t mean that they aren’t “couple goals”. Surely having a healthy relationship is the ultimate “couple goals”?

So with this in mind we would like to suggest five couple goals that actually are related to a couple’s well-being and a healthy relationship (even if they don’t look so good on the ‘gram)!

Friendship

Is it too cheesy to put this first? Maybe, but nevertheless, friendship is vital to any relationship. Yeah sure you can talk about your “best friend” in a caption, but what does it mean to be best friends with your partner?

It means supporting them – not only as a partner, but also has a friend. Helping them to reach their goals, not feeling threatened by their successes (a sadly too common part of relationships) and someone that you enjoy spending time with. Friendship is one of the secret ingredients to making a relationship work. When you see your partner as a friend, you will always be there for them through thick and thin. Relationships shouldn’t be adversarial, and friendship is one of the secrets to sharing goals and having a healthy long-term relationship.

Independence

But isn’t this a relationship goals list? Well it is, but being in a relationship shouldn’t mean sacrificing everything you love, all your hobbies and all your free time. Avoid the urge to submit to the “relationship” and instead focus on having fulfilling separate lives as well as fulfilling shared lives. Sure, at the start of any relationship you might find that you want to spend every second together. But at some point you need to invest in solo time and having a sense of independence. For a successful long-term relationship these things are key.

Independence also means ensuring you don’t forgo your friendships and your family. That you’re both ok and even enjoy, spending some time alone. It’s a bit harder to put it on Instagram, but really a relationship should be where both partners feel free and are choosing to be with each other rather than lacking other options.

Real couple goals right there.

Communication

Every relationship expert, your friends, your mom and probably your dog has told you that communication is the key to a great relationship and we’re here to add our names to that list. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it can be downright hard, but open communication channels are so vital to a happy and long-term relationship.

Both partners need to feel that they can bring up topics that are concerning them, even if they are not the most comfortable to bring up. From experience, leaving something to fester or hoping that it miraculously improves, does not work! This means you need to address problems quickly and addresst them head on.

Honest and open communication doesn’t mean being mean or being brutal. Even with your partner you should still use tact to get your point across. But it is important that both partners feel they can express themselves and raise any issues and know that their other half is going to listen to them and take the problem seriously.

Sacrifice

Relationships can be hard. Trying to get two complicated people to coexist over a long period of time is just an inherently difficult thing to do. It means that every once in a while you’re going to have to sacrifice something for the other person or your shared goals.

Every relationship needs to have sacrifice. We’re not saying this should be a constant thing, but it’s true that in order to work sometimes you’ll have to give up something that you want. Sometimes your partner is going to give something up for you, and that’s also ok. When you’re working towards those shared goals, occasionally personal goals might get shafted. You should never be asked to sacrifice something that is core to your being, but the reality is that personal and shared goals don’t always align.

Being yourself

We’ve gone the full circle here, but in addition to being a friend, you must feel that you can be yourself, fully and entirely. No hiding awkward habits, silly concerns or a difficult past. Real couples are honest with each other about who they are and they can trust that their partner will embrace them for it. Once you’ve been in a relationship where you’ve allowed yourself to just be, you can never go back to hiding yourself. And once you’ve accepted someone else as they truly are, you will never forget the true high of connection.

You can’t put a photograph on Instagram or Facebook of the days, weeks, months and years that it takes to get to the point of really knowing someone. This isn’t instant gratification, this is real life! But it’s so worth it in the end.

Even if you don’t get as many likes.