Imagine if your job was to listen to New Yorkers talk. All. Day. Long. You’d probably end up acquiring lots of useless information. But I’m willing to bet that you’d also end up learning a whole lot about how people operate, what makes them tick, and the ins and outs of the relationships we have with one another just by eavesdropping on the passenger in your back seat.
I was banking on this when I set out to ask every cab driver I came in contact with for their best piece of relationship advice — and they didn’t disappoint. So, what makes a relationship work? Here are some wise words about how to make a relationship last, all from the mouths of NYC cab drivers.
1. Find your equal in a relationship.
“The most important advice I could give to new couples out there is to be equally yoked: with your ambitions, your career and your education. Being equally yoked is important because you’re able to communicate more efficiently on whatever idea of life you’re trying to achieve. It’s always best to be with someone who is as like-minded and ambitious as you are.” —Daniel, 27
2. Always think of what’s best for the other person.
“Always think of what’s best for the other person. If you’re always thinking, ‘how can I make the other person happy?’ the other person wants to do the same for you. When I go to the grocery store, I think about what I could get that would make my wife happy. When I’m making plans, I think about what my wife would like to do this weekend. I always try not to think about myself, but about her, and she does the same for me.” —Michael, 60
3. Don’t take a girlfriend on the side.
“I’ve been married for 13 years. I’m Muslim, so in my religion marriage is treated differently and with more respect. We can’t have girlfriends on the side. It’s against everything we believe in.” —Asaf, 38
4. Never lie or hide the truth.
“Always tell the truth. All the time. The truth is always the best way. Even if the person looks bad in what they’re wearing, you have to tell them.” —Sharif, 32
5. You have to talk and communicate!
“You have to spend time together getting to know each other before marriage, otherwise it won’t work out. You need to spend a lot of time with someone before you decide to marry them, and then you know whether or not the two of you can spend your life together.” —Mizra, 30
6. Understand that dating is a process.
“The goal of relationships is for them to end in marriage, but 99 percent of the relationships you have won’t end in marriage, and that’s not a bad thing, even if you don’t know it yet.” —Carl, 44
7. Never date your clients.
“I never date the people that I drive in my cabs. Don’t mix business with pleasure. You never know who you’re dealing with when you’re driving a cab in NYC.” —Mamadou, 32
8. Don’t get overwhelmed by too many options.
“In my country, you don’t meet your wife until you get to the altar. That’s how my parents met, and they had struggles, but I think that in New York City, young people have too many options, and don’t want to commit for fear that there might be someone better coming along. But when you’re only given one option, you have to fight to make it work. People here don’t do that.” —Musaf, 33
9. It’s not about the money.
“My wife and I have been married for 46 years. When we met we didn’t have a lot of money. We still don’t have a lot of money, but we always find ways to have fun together. One of our first dates after we got married and found an apartment together was at Coney Island. We only had enough money for one hot dog, so we split it. But you know what? It was the best hot dog I ever ate.” —Sal, 66
10. Allow your partner to change — and accept the new version.
“You won’t understand this because you’re too young. But people change. And in order to have a lasting relationship, you need to choose the new version of what your partner becomes and accept their new interests. if you can’t do that, you’re screwed.” —Alex, 49