Which relationship rules are worth following and which are rubbish? An expert reveals all

We all know relationships are hard work - and when you're having a heated war of words over something as trivial as what takeaway to order, we can't help but wish there was a definitive rulebook to sharing your life with someone else. 

Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of books by authors who claim they can teach you the secrets to long-lasting love. We've all heard the 'tried-and-trusted' rules touted as the bedrock of relationship success: 'never go to bed angry', 'let sleeping dogs lie', 'happy wife, happy life', 'forgive and forget' (honestly, most of these are seriously patriarchal and outdated and enable men to act like douchebags).

Then, there are the rules to live by, ingrained into every young person from the self-proclaimed experts of social media: 'If they wanted to, they would', 'once a cheater, always a cheater' - I could go on. 

What these rules don't take into account is that just like each and every one of us, every relationship is different: from boundaries and backgrounds to dynamics and deal-breakers. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach. So should we play by the rules, or throw the rulebook out the window?

With a recent article by The Guardian ('Never go to bed on an argument … and 19 other relationship 'rules' unpicked by experts') making the rounds online, The Project spoke to Sydney-based clinical neuropsychologist, Dr Hannah Korrel, to determine what relationship tips are good advice, and which are better off in the bin. 

Just like the only certainty in life is death, Dr Korrel made it clear that the only certainty in a relationship is uncertainty. While we may feel so connected to our partner that it feels like you both have ESP, you can never truly know or predict another person's thoughts, feelings, or behaviour, which makes applying a set of fundamental 'rules' - whether they come from a therapist or TikTok - pretty ineffective. 

"The one consistent thing in relationships is that it's always inconsistent, so I think taking things with a grain of salt and going by your own relationship is key here," she told The Project on Thursday. 

"[For example], 'you can't love others until you love yourself'. I don't think that's true at all… or 'hurt people hurt people'. I think people who have gone through trauma can be some of the most compassionate and empathetic. 

"'Leopards don't change spots' - I feel that's really tarring people with a particular brush and they can never get that mud off. We all make mistakes.

"Refer back to yourself whenever you're taking the advice of the internet."

And according to Dr Korrel, 'never going to bed on an argument' - one of the most commonly touted rules to a successful relationship - can actually be pretty unsuccessful in most cases. After all, staying up until 2am to unpack why they ordered Indian food when you specifically asked for Thai because you didn't want naan bread probably isn't conducive to a rational resolution. 

"I think the idea of 'never going to bed on an argument' being false is true. You can go to bed if you are in the middle of an argument," Dr Korrel explained. 

"Arguing at 2am may not be the right time to discuss - putting a pin in it, taking a pause is a really great way to bring down those tempers and talk about it when you're more rational. [You can say] 'we'll talk about it tomorrow', find a time you will actually talk about it the next day and honour that commitment.

"Remember that the stage after the honeymoon stage is what we call the 'becoming a couple' stage. That doesn't mean you lose the fun, it just means that you start to really get to know the person. Going down this track means accepting there are going to be some tough times, but you can continue to have those fun times."

Watch the video above.