Every successful relationship is successful for the same exact reasons. Does that surprise you?

It’s true. Although every relationship looks entirely different from the outside, the inner workings of lasting relationships are incredibly similar.

So what’s the secret? Actually, there’s 12 of them. And here they are (Source: M. Manson):

1. Be together for the right reasons:  don’t ever be with someone because someone else pressured you to. The only reason you should ever be with the person you’re with is because you simply love being around them. It really is that simple.

2. Have realistic expectations about relationships and romance:  true love is a choice. It’s a constant commitment to a person regardless of the present circumstances. It’s a commitment to a person who you understand isn’t going to always make you happy—nor should they!—and a person who will need to rely on you at times, just as you will rely on them.

3. The most important factor in a relationship is not communication, but respect:  it’s not sexual attraction, looks, shared goals, religion or lack of, nor is it love. There are times when you won’t feel love for your partner. That is the truth. But you never want to lose respect for your partner. Once you lose respect you will never get it back.

4. Talk openly about everything, especially the stuff that hurts:  if something bothers you in the relationship, you must be willing to say it. Saying it builds trust and trust builds intimacy. It may hurt, but you still need to do it. No one else can fix your relationship for you.

5. A healthy relationship means two healthy individuals:  it is up to you to make yourself happy, it is NOT the job of your spouse. Figure out as individuals what makes you happy as an individual, be happy yourself, then you each bring that to the relationship.

6. Give each other space:  be sure you have a life of your own, otherwise it is harder to have a life together.

7. You and your partner will grow and change in unexpected ways; embrace it:  You have to be prepared for the unexpected, and truly ask yourself if you admire this person regardless of the superficial.

8. Get good at fighting:  the relationship is a living, breathing thing. Much like the body and muscles, it cannot get stronger without stress and challenge. You have to fight. You have to hash things out. Obstacles make the marriage.

9. Get good at forgiving:  when you end up being right about something—shut up. You can be right and be quiet at the same time.

10. The little things add up to big things:  if you don’t take the time to meet for lunch, go for a walk or go out to dinner and a movie with some regularity then you basically end up with a roommate. Stay connected.

11. Sex matters… a LOT:  sex is the State of the Union. If the relationship is good, the sex will be good. If its not, make it so.

12. Be practical, and create relationship rules:  You’re sharing a life together and so you need to plan and account for each person’s needs and resources. It may not always be sexy, but it works.