The album's biggest hit was "I Want Her", a #5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and the first #1 R&B hit for Sweat. The title track (a duet with Jacci McGhee) followed "I Want Her", making the #2 R&B spot, while "Don't Stop Your Love" and "Something Just Ain't Right" were also major top ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts. In addition, album tracks such as "Right and a Wrong Way" and "How Deep is Your Love" received substantial radio airplay and can still be heard on quiet storm format stations. On April 6, 1994, Make It Last Forever was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of three million copies in the United States. The single "I Want Her" was certified gold by the RIAA on June 13, 1989, for shipments of 500,000 copies in the US.
J.D. Considine of Musician stated in a review upon the album's release, "Though Keith Sweat is B-Boy enough to relish the cheap-drum-machine clatter of the classic hip-hop groove, he's also sufficiently soulful to keep that from crowding his vocal style".Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave Make It Last Forever a "B". Christgau commented that "the beats prove Teddy Riley New York's answer to Jam & Lewis" and stated, "For credentials the next big love man proffers beats on the slow ones and lyrics whose seduction strategy is never to offend". In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Andrew Hamilton gave it five out of five stars and viewed it as Sweat's best album. He complimented his "pleading, whining tenor" and wrote that it "adroitly draws you into every song, demanding an emotional commitment".