Healthy relationships don’t just happen. They are built deliberately by two committed people or parties over time and with patience. If you want to improve your friendship, marriage or dating relationship and keep it meaningful and satisfying, you not only need patience, commitment and time, but also inner emotional strength and awareness. Here are some of the most steal-worthy things emotionally strong people do when in a relationship that helps keep their relationship on track.

1.   They let themselves love unconditionally.

Emotionally strong people don’t hold back on love. When they are in a relationship, they love totally and unconditionally. If you are afraid to love because you fear being hurt or just don’t want to be vulnerable in love, you don’t deserve true love. Emotionally strong people have the courage to give the person they care for the chance to hurt them, but trust that person they love will not. They give all their love because they understand a real relationship is impossible only when you refuse to give it a chance.

2.   They trust their partner fully.

Emotionally strong people understand no relationship can survive without trust. They know that if you are ever going to have someone to trust, that person must also feel that they can trust you. For this reason, emotionally strong people don’t dwell on their fears in a relationship; rather they have faith and trust in the good intentions of the person they love. Be trusting and honest in your relationships. Don’t cheat, lie, manipulate or keep secrets. If you can do that, it is a beautiful, rewarding sign of emotional maturity.

3.   They speak their mind.

And they do so coolly, calmly and respectfully. That is because emotionally strong people know communication is critical in healthy relationships. They are, therefore, straight forward and not afraid to say “No” whenever they don’t agree with something. This demonstrates how confident and self-aware they are. Know your own self-worth. Debate your partner on topics you are not comfortable with as an equal without losing your cool. Speaking you mind in a civil, loving manner is an incredibly attractive way to remain yourself in the relationship and help your partner love you for who you really are.

4.   They listen keenly.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up and speak your mind, but it takes even more courage to sit quietly and listen with an open mind to what others have to say. Emotionally strong people have this inner strength and courage to listen. They listen keenly because they know loved ones often need a listening ear more that they need a rumbling voice. Learn to pay attention and listen attentively not with the intent to reply, but with the express intent to understand. A listening ear will never get you in trouble.

5.   They stand up and fight for their love.

Sometimes strangers, friends and even family members say nasty things or ask inappropriate questions about your partner or romantic relationship in your face. Emotionally strong people will have none of that. While some people will drop their heads and say nothing, emotionally strong people stand up for their love. Even when you are among your peers and they make inappropriate remarks about your relationship, get up and fight for your love. Speak up in defense of your relationship and integrity of your partner. Standing your ground fearlessly proves you care for your partner, understand the nature of your relationship and can express yourself in the presence of others like a grown man/woman.

6.   They turn envy and jealousy into catalysts of love and understanding.

We all get a little jealous sometimes. While others burn with envy and let anger consume them, emotionally strong people always keep their emotions and moods under control. They don’t whine, complain, criticize or flare up uncontrollably. That is because they know complaining endlessly is a waste of time and a sign you are needy or clingy. Instead, emotionally strong people sit their partners down for a heart-to-heart regarding the situation that triggers jealously and work out how to fix it. Unless you want to cry and whine with envy and jealousy forever, sit down and talk about what brings these feelings and how you will make it better, even if that conversation is only with yourself. Use the answers you find for solving the problem as motivation to bring more love and understanding in your relationship.

7.   They take relationship challenges as learning opportunities.

Every relationship has its share of ups and downs. Emotionally strong people know this and don’t expect their relationship to be smooth sailing all the way. When challenges come, they view them as opportunities to learn and do better next time. Viewing hard times as some kind of evidence that something is wrong or that you are with the wrong person only aggravates the situation. Stay calm and keep working on making your relationship better. Cultivate a thick skin and know that challenges are an inevitable part of life. You won’t find any relationship anywhere that is perfect so you might as well make the best of what you already have. Emotionally strong people do this all the time and this makes their relationship and understanding for each other grow from strength to strength.

8.   They apologize when they make a mistake.

It’s easy to point fingers at others when things are not going well, even when it is your own fault things are bad. However, emotionally strong people don’t follow this path of least resistant. They accept when they have made a mistake, apologize for the mistake and make amends moving forward. This helps them jump over relationship huddles successfully and avoid hurting their partners in the future. Be that person who takes responsibility for your own actions and doesn’t shift blame in the relationship. If you can do that, you will build a truly loving relationship that is bound to be the envy of others.

9.   They choose to be happy in the relationship.

That’s because they are optimists and in the relationship for the long haul. Stop focusing on your partner’s flaws or things that upset you in the relationship too much. It is not worth it. Just be happy with what’s good about your relationship and don’t drag angst into tomorrow. Emotionally strong people seem so happy not because there are no issues in their lives, but because they choose to be. Lay down the sword and let it be. Smile, laugh and make merry with your partner and friends. Choosing to be happy in the relationship does not mean you are indifferent, naïve or weak. On the contrary, it means you are emotionally strong and aware life is too short to hold grudges and be unhappy.

10.   They are grateful for the opportunity to love and be loved.

The best thing about being in a relationship is having a partner and best friend who you know has your best interest at heart. Appreciate that about them and never take it for granted. Emotionally strong people show their gratitude and appreciation for their partners continuously. They tell those they love that they love them and show it with their deeds. As Melody Beattie rightly observes, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”