Before we begin, I should say this post is based on my own experiences. During (and after) each of my relationships I've learnt something new, so know that this post probably isn't "complete". I hope you are still able to glean useful ideas from it, maybe tailoring them to suit your own experiences.
For a few months now, thoughts about what makes a perfect relationship have been percolating through my brain. I've come up with 3 parts, held together by a special ingredient. I like to visualise my model of a perfect relationship as 3 slices of pie held together by a sauce. Regardless of the metaphorical shape you visualise a relationship as taking, what do the slices represent? What is that special ingredient and why is it needed? Lets have a bite out of our pie and take a look.
* Friendship *
Some people don't think it's a good idea to date one's friends, so you could alternatively call this "the ability to talk to each other"… but that's not as catchy.
Sometimes you'll have to talk about serious things. In the long run, issues such as moving in together or joint bank accounts might come up. You'll need to be able to calmly talk things over and not hide an elephant in the room.
Other times you'll just want to talk about how your days were, which shirt looks best, or what you're going to have for dinner. Mundane everyday things, but if you just bore each other it doesn't bode well for a lasting relationship. Ideally you and your partner click, and can talk for hours about practically nothing.
Finally it's important to have something in common to talk about. Perhaps it's a topic you're both interested in, a subject you're studying, or a hobby. In the early stages of dating this might not seem so important - you gush your heart out at each other - it seems to be going fine. However, you don't want to both be sitting on the sofa after a date and eventually realise you like different things on TV, you hate your partner's music taste, and you're sitting in silence because you have nothing to talk about. Become friends first, to form a strong foundation for a relationship.
* Love *
I've heard people talk about "the L word" as if it's some kind of taboo. When should you say it? How do you know you mean it? So we could alternatively call this section "Romance", or the feelings beyond friendship you have for each other.
Love is the hardest feeling to predict or explain. Watching a comedian makes us laugh, receiving an insult makes us sad; most feelings are pretty obvious and predictable. But love? I can say I have loved before, but I haven't always been able to explain why. Sometimes we don't fall for someone suitable, or who's even our 'type', yet inexplicably we love them nonetheless. So since I can't fully explain my own experiences of love, I won't try to advice yours. I will simply say that it's something to strive for.
But what is love? When should I feel it? Well I'm no Cambridge dictionary, but for me love is when you feel butterflies in your stomach as you look at them, it's when you want to spend time with them, it makes you miss them when you're apart, they make you smile when they smile. Love can happen quickly and fervently, or it can grow and blossom more gradually. If you think you feel it, tell them. They might not feel it back right away, but that's ok as it can grow, but they shouldn't react badly. After all, would you be upset if the person you'd been dating said they loved you? Lets make love less of a taboo and more something we feel happy telling our partners.
* Sex *
If friendship is a mental bond, and love is an emotional bond, then sex is the physical bond. It completes the relationship by bringing the couple intimately closer.
How sex is embodied in the relationship depends on the couple. Sometimes sex can be loving and friendly, It doesn't have to be just raw passion (not that there's anything wrong with that either).
A couple might have a nice day out, come home and chat for a while, cuddle up, kiss… by this point instincts are likely taking over and the couple is becoming turned on. Sex would naturally come next, so it's important that both people in the couple are attracted to each other.
Trust (the special ingredient)
Trust isn't a tangible part of a relationship. You can have a friendly chat, a romantic meal, a sexy evening, but you don't have "a trustful afternoon". Rather, I see trust as the glue that binds the tangible parts together.
Friendship benefits from trust when you want to discus something meaningful. Perhaps there's a secret you wish to share, and you need to trust your friend to keep it to themselves. Other times you'll ask a friend's opinion on something, and you want to trust that they'll give an honest response.
Love falters without trust. You want to trust that if your partners says "I love you" they mean It, and they're faithful. Trust also allows you to open up to each other, share your feelings (happy or sad), and empathise with each other.
Sex relies on trust. It's paramount that you can tell your partner what you enjoy or don't enjoy, and vice-versa. It will be a much more pleasurable experience for both in the couple if you can share your desires.
Without trust, you'll never feel at ease with your other half. Luckily, trust tends to naturally build with time, so you'll gradually become more comfortable with them, provided you do nothing to loose their trust.
Friendship + Love + Sex (+ Trust) = Perfect Relationship.
If you've got all three of these parts, with lashings of trust, then I think you're well on the way to a perfect relationship. It's unlikely you'll ever find someone who is perfect for you in all three ways (so don't hold out for that), but hopefully you'll find someone who satisfies all three to some extent.
Finally I'd like to add, should we be looking for perfection? If something is too perfect it can become boring. There would be no mystery, excitement or nuances. Sometimes I think it's the imperfections that actually make a relationship worthwhile; they make it more interesting, and necessarily you have to work at it. For if you don't have to work at a relationship, there's a risk you'll forget what you've got.
Do you disagree with me? Fantastic! As I said at the start of this post, these are my own thoughts and might not apply to everyone. For example, a couple who identify their sexuality as being asexual may not find the 'Sex' part important at all, so for them there could be just 2 parts to a perfect relationship. Busy business people may find they don't have time for the 'Friendship' section and are quite happy with just the other two. Or there may be individuals who have extra, or completely different, ideas about what constitutes their perfect relationship. So henceforth, I hope you can build with someone (or are already in) a perfect relationship.