It really makes me laugh when people ask me for relationship advice, especially when they think that just because I'm a in a relationship now, I've suddenly gained all the wisdom. Unfortunately, I have not. While there are many things about Myles' and my relationship that I'm proud of, the way we got together was a sort a whirlwind that neither of us expected that just ended up turning out really well, so I can't claim that. However, I do feel like I've learned a lot in the past few months about dating and relationships, and I thought I'd write them all down here in case some of you thought I was an expert now too.
1. Never EVER hash something out over call/text
I put this one first because it should be obvious, but I promise it isn't. Myles and I broke up once due to a conflict that arose totally out of confusion over texts. I misunderstood his tone, he misunderstood mine, and we didn't talk for a whole month because both of us felt totally justified. SO STUPID. There are so many things that can go wrong over text and I firmly believe that no conversation of substance, good or bad, should ever be had over an electronic form of communication. I know it's hard when you're both busy, and sometimes it helps to get your thoughts together by typing them out, but write them down and use them as a guide, in person, later. Oh, and don't ever apologize, tell someone you love them for the first time, or handle any other big moments over text either, it's just not the same, but you already knew that.
2. If it's a problem, handle it
I HATE letting things get swept under the rug and then before you know it, it's huge issue. I'm a person that likes to talk about it immediately. If you hurt my feelings, I'm gonna tell you. If you do something I don't like, I'll let you know. I don't mean that in a sassy way, I just value honesty and I really do think it's a testament to the relationship when you feel comfortable and safe enough to be so open with someone like that. I think it makes it so much easier to just discuss it, come up with a plan for how to do better in the future, and then let it go. Myles really isn't a talker when it comes to feelings, and I can't tell you how many times I pull the "I'm not getting out of the car until this is resolved" card, but I just can't go on with my day until it's worked out, it's just not in my nature. You know how in movies they always say "Location. Location. Location."? I think the golden rule of relationships is "Communication. Communication. Communication."
3. Patience is key
Oh goodness, this is not my strong suit. When I'm stressed, I get snappy. I know it, and I work on it everyday, but it's a constant process of trying, failing, and trying again. Right now I am working on apologizing before I get stressed, if I know I've got a lot of my plate beforehand, then trying to do my best to be patient and respectful, even in the midst of everything. If I say things I know I shouldn't have, I try to apologize as quickly as possible and avoid doing it again. I know that sounds stupid, but so far it seems to be working pretty well. I think the key is realizing that most of your daily stress (bills, work, money, etc.) isn't the fault of your significant other, and you can't put that on them. When you walk through the door at home, try to take a deep breath and leave all that on the other side, and then pick it back up when you leave the next day. The people you love should get your best, not your residual frustration from everything and everyone else, as hard as that is sometimes.
5. Don't take anything for granted
I know this sounds cliche, but to me, it's really important. I really didn't realize how much work relationships are until I was in one. I don't mean that in an "inconvenient and hard" way, I mean that relationships take putting in effort everyday to make it what you want it to be, and I think part of that effort is making sure nothing goes unappreciated. Obviously no one's perfect, but I try my best to always let Myles know how much I appreciate it when he runs an errand for me or does something sweet/helpful without me having to ask, because I think a lot of issues come from feeling unappreciated and I don't want that to ever become an issue for us. We all know we're willing to do 100 times more when we feel like it's genuinely appreciated and needed, so why can't we show that to people who do things for us all the time? Plus, it makes them more inclined to help when we need it, so it's a win-win!
6. Let go of your pride
I've come to believe that pride and relationships don't mix. I think that when you're trying to always come out on top and make sure you always seem cool, calm, and in control, you're not actually being vulnerable and letting someone see the real you, and isn't that what relationships are for? I think the best parts of my relationship are the ones where I know I look like a mess, with morning breath and baby hairs going every which way, but we still get up and make breakfast together and I feel just as loved as when we throw on our best formal wear and go somewhere fancy, and I thinkthat's the whole point of loving someone! I heard someone say once that you can't win in a relationship because if you win the fight, you lose the person, and I think that's so true. When Myles and I argue, it hurts me more to know that we aren't talking/at our best because of some stupid fight, and I'd so much rather just own up to my faults, let it go, and move on, then lose time together.
7. Grow together
THIS. IS. SO. IMPORTANT.
Myles and I make a point of talking about our goals, our hopes for the future, what we want a marriage to look like, how we'd raise kids, traditions we want to start, etc. It seems weird to some people, but it's important for us to know that we line up in those very important ways, especially because now is the time people start developing those ideas, and we want to develop them together so we can grow in those directions together. We encourage each other to do our best, be our best, and hold each other accountable when we do things we know we shouldn't or don't put all our effort into something we know we should. Relationships should have 3 parts- spiritual, physical, and emotional- and we make it a point to keep up with growing together in all 3, not just one or two and letting that take over. Obviously, we are not perfect, but we really try, and I think that's all you can do.
8. Be there
Just be there. Not just when it's easy or convenient, but always. The best thing about a relationship of any kind, but especially a romantic one, is being able to "share the load" with someone and know that you don't have to do it all by yourself. Be there to help, or to listen, or just to say "I know, it sucks, but it'll be okay." Do what you say you'll do and show up when you need to show up.
I get very discouraged when I hear older people, especially married ones, talk about how everything changes once you're married, or make comments like "Enjoy it now because it won't last." I think that it depends on the couple, and obviously I can't speak to that because I am not married, but I just wanted to share a few things I've learned and say that it doesn't have to be that way. Growing apart isn't something that just happens, it's a choice people make everyday to stop putting the work in, so if you're in a relationship that you really believe in and put in work for, don't let the haterz get you down. That's all I'm saying.
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