You don't have clue how to be in a relationship, huh?

Imagine you’re in a new relationship (read: everything with your significant other is altercation-proof). You guys are in peak “puppy love” mode. Your inability to provide every little detail of your day doesn’t send them into a frenzy that they labels as a “lack of communication.” And on the flipside, this new tart of yours thinks your lazy/unproductive/cringe-worthy habits are cute, not slovenly. All said, you two enjoy every waking minute with each other. She poops rainbows. He makes a mean frozen pizza. What more could two people need? A month and a half has gone by and you have no idea how you functioned without this person in your life. You nuke your Tinder account, update your profile picture from that bizarre selfie that screams desperation and begin getting in front of tasks that you’ve been avoiding for way too long.

Fast forward six months. You two are undeniably a great pair. Her friends still love you despite hearing about your less dignifying moments like when you tried to sell her on the idea of getting a lap dance to "Beast of Burden" at Nitro because you needed to be a good wingman for your boy. His friends still think you’re a sweetheart because you come over, make breakfast sandwiches and watch football from dusk ‘til dawn every Sunday from September ‘til December.

Leapfrog ahead two more months. Each of you are commonly identified by other people as *insert name*’s boyfriend/girlfriend. Your individual identity starts to take a minor hit. You love your significant other, but you’re afraid of no longer being the person you once were. Which in some cases, can be a really good thing. Other times, long-term relationships can breed stagnancy and a lack of motivation to further progress your life because everything around you is just a bit too cozy and familiar. Your mind starts racing and you stumble upon some article about how a breakup is the best thing to kickstart an individual into pursuing his or her’s wildest ambitions as a way of taking their mind off of the heartbreak. Why did you read this stupid article? Why does it feel like after eight months or so with your woman or man things are starting to feel permanent? Why are you two no longer enthralled by each other's company every time you hang out? If you’re noticing our tone getting more and more manicky with each passing sentence, you’re a smart cookie.

Let's be clear, this whole "Elite Daily" perspective on dating is not our normal attitude. Advocating for the dependency on another individual no matter how loyal they may be sounds like a very risky way of going about things. Having said that, it’s always a comforting feeling to know that there is one person outside of your immediate family that will be by your side when your world escalates from ‘Code: Okay this is challenging’ to ‘Code: I can’t handle this shit anymore’. Now we're not saying maintaining a healthy relationship is easy, but fortunately, there are precautions and habits that you can adhere to that will keep things balanced when that one year anniversary starts to rear its unnerving head. Here are a few of our personal favorites:

Don’t ever raise your voice to them …

Yes. We know. We’ve done it before. You’ve done it before. We’ve all done it before. Sometimes things just escalate too fast to control and before you know it, you’re yelling at each other. With that in mind, just don’t do it again. You’re voice is (hopefully) louder and scarier than hers (or his); which makes you look like a way bigger asshole when you’re the first one to snap. Harness your inner Harvey Keitel and keep your cool. We promise you things will get resolved a lot faster with poise and composure.

Express your appreciation when he/she does something for you that they hate …

At the beginning of the relationship, meeting all of your friends was something they viewed as a golden opportunity. The better impression made with the squad, the easier it is to seem like the right person to be with. It’s when you start making the rounds to graduation parties, family gatherings, poetry slams to support that one friend of theirs that lack any and all sense of awareness, that their steely resolve begins to soften. The fastest way to temper patience for social gatherings, dog sitting, leg shaving (we don’t know what you’re into, but this is a judgment-free zone), is to simply let them know that you appreciate their presence. A "thank you" goes a lot further than a list of demands ever will.

Lightly roast each other on the daily …

Our personal favorite: Some people have a tendency to forget that your girlfriend/boyfriend is most crucially, your friend. Your ride or die. ‘Yonce and Jay! The egg whites to your yolk. Close friends bust balls. It’s okay to give each other shit once in a while, as long you know not to cut too deep. After being with a person for over six months, we're going to assume you know where the caution tape needs to be planted. Gentlemen, tell her she’s beautiful, but also let her know that she looks like a baby giraffe on ice skates after coming home from The Rio on Thursday nights. Ladies, pay homage to his feeble attempt at growing a beard, but also let him know that he might get Chris Hansen’ed if he goes out in public with his current facial hair arrangement.

Remember folks, healthy relationships in your 20s are cultivated by juggling the delicate trifecta of humor, self-awareness and respect. Adhere to the "Big Three" and you’ll be navigating your relationship with eyes open and a really hilarious safety word.