Relationships: The Good & The Ugly
Relationships can be tricky.
Relationships can be messy.
I have had plenty of relationships in my young life. Some were good and others not so good.
Some of them were longer than others. Some lasted about three weeks and ended with us never talking again. Some of my relationships ended due to my choice while others ended because of emotions out of my own hands. However different my relationships have been from one another, they have all taught me a few very important lessons about myself; lessons that I never could have learned on my own.
If you are in a relationship, make sure you understand these lessons sooner rather than later. If you are looking for a relationship, try to be prepared for one first. So often we search for and believe that a relationship will make us feel whole. We think we will only be cool, beautiful, complete, happier, accomplished, etc. with someone else by our side. This can be true and also misguiding. Here are the lessons I wish I had learned when I was entering a relationship and also once I was in one.
Lesson #1: You will not be happier with someone else if you are unhappy alone.
If you have read some of my other blog posts then you are already aware that I struggle with the concept of being alone. Whether it be relationships, friendships, or Friday nights, I like being with other people. I am an extrovert to the extreme and sometimes I go days without having peace and quiet. It is good and bad for me. It’s good because it genuinely makes me happy. I like being with others. However, when it came to my relationships, it became a slight downside.
I was terrified of being alone. When I was in past relationships, I was always fearful in the back of my mind of being alone. I thought, “People make me happy and I cannot make myself happy.” That is the mindset that you need to shut down. You have to be happy alone before you can be happy with someone else. We all search for relationships when we feel insecure or unsure because sometimes relationships can be a security blanket over our insecurities. I thought this relationship will make me feel beautiful, smart, funny, accomplished, etc. and they did! However, under the surface, I still had serious doubts about the person I was or the person I wanted to become.
I was unhappy with me. Therefore, I would never be happy with someone else.
Make sure you like you, for you and only you. Really fall in love with yourself. Respect yourself; believe in yourself; be happy with yourself because someone else won’t fix you. A relationship will maybe cover the wounds for a short while, but then the band-aid will come off and you will still be left with you. So, make you happy first.
Lesson #2: Don’t take others opinions lightly.
We have all been in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. We have all been ‘blinded by the love and admiration we felt towards our significant other,’ especially during the beginning stages of a new relationship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! However, we have also all had that one friend or family member who was not as smitten with our new love as we seemed to be.
If a trusted friend or family member tells you something negative about your significant other…. Listen. You don’t have to break up with them right then and there. You don’t even have to break up with them ever! However, my advice to you is to at least listen to their concerns. People who love and care about you, people who know you well, can see things sometimes more clearly than you can.
Just don’t ignore these warnings or concerns.
In the moment you can and probably will feel upset with them. You may feel attacked. You may feel awkward with that person; however, their concern comes from a place of love. Just be aware of the argument they bring to the table. Hear them out. Reflect on what they are worried about. And then, if you can move past it or if you disagree with their judgment entirely then you have every right to do so! But, you owe it to those who care about you to at least entertain the idea that this person may not be ‘the’ person because it can only better you and your feelings in the future. You are faced with the choice of shutting down someone not good for you or working on flaws that may bother you and your relationship. Use the criticism as a growth tool for you and your relationship. Do not ignore warnings, from my experience, they are usually pretty accurate.
Lesson #3: Understand where you are willing to compromise and where you are not.
What matters most to you? Maybe it is your religious beliefs or your political views. Maybe you want to have kids or travel the world before you are thirty. Maybe you want to live in the city or live out in the beautiful countryside. Whatever your dreams, beliefs, goals, and stances are in your life that you are not willing to compromise on…make those known early.
We all know the saying, “You only live once,” but you really do.
Don’t change key characteristics of yourself for your relationship. Compromise is very important, however, there should be things you are willing to compromise on and there are things you should not. Those are what matter here.
If you have always wanted to own four dogs and your partner hates animals, try to differentiate between is this a silly thing I am willing to compromise on or is this something that genuinely I want for myself and for my life.
Nothing that really matters to you is silly or stupid.
You have to live with the life you build, so don’t change things that you don’t want to change.
Be sure you know enough about yourself what matters most to you and make them known to your partner early on in your relationship. Then hold onto them. It is very easy to believe that ‘people will change’ or ‘this isn’t that important to me,’ but what if it is? Later down the line, the cracks will show. You will be unhappy if you let go of the things that truly make you happy for your relationship.
Know your compromises and know your concrete desires.
Lesson #4: Keep your hobbies ‘your’ hobbies.
Your hobbies are your hobbies. When in a relationship, it is very easy to start to mesh your lives completely together. You want to spend time together. You may like the same things. You may have the same friends. You may want to grow together. All of this is wonderful! However, you need your own life.
Being in a relationship still means you also have a relationship with yourself. If you love to run and you have friends who love to run with you, maybe don’t bring your boyfriend to the gym every day. If you like to paint, maybe take a painting class alone. If you have been with your significant other all week long, maybe take Friday girl’s night or make Saturday for the boys.
Make sure you keep things for yourself. Meshing your entire life is a very quick and detrimental way to lose yourself in your relationship. Don’t lose yourself. Don’t give up on you. You need alone time; you need friends; you need your family. A relationship can seem like the most important thing that solely defines you…it should never feel that way.
Lesson #5: Not all relationships have to be ‘the’ relationship.
Finally, the pain of heartbreak or possibly the pain of understanding that you are unhappy in your relationship.
That is okay.
You will find someone else.
You will be okay on your own.
There is nothing wrong with you if your relationship does not work out. Not every single relationship has to end in marriage. Not every single relationship has to last a long time.
The best advice I can give for the final lesson is this, “NO relationship is worth being unhappy or with someone that is not happy with you.”
So, if you find yourself being the ‘dumper’ or the ‘dumpee’ don’t stress.
Go have a good cry; call a good friend; go get a manicure or go to the gym.
But then, move on.
“There are more fish in the sea.”
Honestly, consider yourself lucky. There are too many people living a life they are unhappy in. It may, and probably will hurt now, but the pain will go away. You will learn from it; you will grow from it. Then, when you are ready, you will find the relationship you have always wanted, needed, and desired. Because that is what you deserve and if you don’t have that right now, then this is not ‘the’ relationship and that is okay.
Relationships can be challenging, but healthy and happy relationships bring out the best in both parties. Don’t fear relationships, but also don’t solely search for them. Learn how to be alone. Learn more about yourself and what you are really looking for in a relationship. Don’t place your worth in one. Don’t be fearful of them.
However, my last piece of advice is this, “The relationship you have with yourself is the longest and most crucial relationship you will ever have in your life. It is the only relationship you cannot leave. It is the only relationship you are in complete control of. Focus on this relationship first because you will never be able to fully love someone else without first loving yourself.”