Love is one of those topics I know I’ll continue learning about as long as I put my heart on the line. With each passing year I’m certain I know more about love and what it means only to shatter those same guidelines and expectations in the months or years to come. I’ve found myself in some pretty unhappy relationships because I remembered learning “love takes work” without realizing it shouldn’t all be miserable work. Likewise I’ve been a pretty miserable person to love, I’ve been selfish and occasionally irrational.
It doesn’t matter where your Friend’s Relationships are at.
The older I get the more I realize relationships aren’t something you can measure and compare. Some of my friends have never dated, others are getting married and I’m somewhere in between. Jordan and I are so happy together just being us, there is no reason to complicate things by wondering why we aren’t exactly like other people. For instance, I’m so excited to go to Paris with my cousin Genevieve, honestly I’m more excited than I was about the idea of going with Jordan. Does this make me a bad girlfriend? Does this mean he isn’t my best friend or favorite person in the universe? Of course not. I have friends who wouldn’t dream of traveling abroad and experiencing a new country and culture without their significant other, however, that just isn’t Jordan & Jordyn (hehe). I know I need to travel to be fulfilled just as Jordan needs to see movies to relax. I hate going to movies, so often times Jordan will hit up the theatre alone. Likewise, it’s stressful for Jordan to leave work for travel, and it’s something I can thoroughly enjoy with a girl friend. The moral of the story: everyone’s relationships are different! My past relationships were drastically different than my relationship now and there is no reason to believe my friends’ relationships aren’t just as unique. I try my best to avoid judging other people’s relationships (I’m not perfect) and/or comparing my relationship to others.
There’s No reason to Waste your time with Someone who Makes you Unhappy.
I think most of us experience a toxic relationship at some point in our lives. Sometimes a good relationship turns toxic, which can be really sad, other relationships are toxic from the start. It’s true, even in the best relationships there will be times you feel insecure or overwhelmed or frustrated, but a healthy relationship should minimize those unhappy side effects. If you find yourself with someone who is constantly letting you down, lying to you, or just inhibiting you from being the best version of yourself…ask yourself “why”? Are you working through a rough patch or is the entire relationship an issue? I’ll be the first to admit being alone can be scary and lonely (especially if you’re a serial monogamist, like I am). You will have nights that your bed feels far too large for just you, and days that feel like you’re all alone in the world, but it is those times of loneliness that make you stronger. Soon you realize that being with the wrong person isn’t worth the “warm body” or space filler in your heart. The worst thing you can do is stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy because you are afraid of being lonely. Being lonely is one of the best character builders out there! Allow yourself to be lonely so you can embrace a happy, healthy relationship when the time is right.
Having your own Hobbies & Ambitions is a BIG DEAL.
Spending every spare moment with anyone is a recipe for disaster. Though I adore spending time with Jordan, I’m really happy I have my own things. I have my blog (which he doesn’t read), my job, my online classes and my own girls’ nights that all give me a sense of purpose and identity outside of my relationship with him. Similarly, he has a long list of goals and ambitions that have practically nothing to do with me. It works because it makes both of us substantially more interesting. On evenings at home together I’m able to share what I learned in one of my online classes, talk about what happened on a recent girl’s night or listen to his struggles and successes in business. Sure, take that yoga class together, but also cultivate hobbies meant for just you. Even if you don’t feel like you need the space, the bit of distance will make your time together that much sweeter!
Sometimes the Secret to a Happier relationship is just SAYING what you Need/Want.
Who doesn’t want the boyfriend who surprises her with flowers, tickets to the ballet and a cute new bracelet all just because? Who doesn’t want to wake up to love notes or a sweet good morning text or to be showered with kisses and compliments? When it comes to being loved I am very needy! I want the grand romantic gestures and the little details daily to help me feel special and appreciated. Jordan is a thoughtful guy, but he isn’t a mind reader and I’ve been let down on occasion. Though he out of the blue surprised me with boxes and bags from Kate Spade and Tory Burch, he also dragged me to Deadpool on Valentine’s day and thought hanging photos around our apartment sounded romantic for our anniversary. How can my best friend love of my life dream guy drop the ball sometimes? Well, he’s human too. I’ve found that (though unromantic) sometimes the secret to being happy is spelling out exactly what will make you happy. Saying “I’d really like to get out of the house and do something romantic for our anniversary” isn’t against the rules of a happy relationship. Likewise, it’s not dorky or unromantic to say ” It really made me happy that time you surprised me with flowers, little gestures like that mean a lot to me”. At the end of the day you can buy your own flowers and plan your own romantic dates but your partner is more likely to please you if they understand your thought process.
The idea of having “One Love” is a Fantasy, and not necessarily a good one.
While we can all “ooh” and “aww” over the adorable couple that found each other in high school and never had to date anyone else before living happily ever after, most of us won’t ride off into the sunsets with our first loves. In fact, the more relationships I’ve experienced the more I’ve realized how grateful I am not to have stayed in my first serious relationship forever. While there are exceptions to every rule and there are certainly wonderful high school sweethearts out there, I don’t wish for that sort of love story. You learn so much about yourself from having your heartbroken, though I would never wish for heartbreak, I’m simultaneously really grateful I’ve been through it a few times. Likewise by dating both seriously and casually I’ve learned a lot about what I want and don’t want in a significant other. Through high school and college I would meet a guy and fall for him based off of an initial spark or attraction. Despite all the reasons a guy was wrong (or right) for me I justified the relationship because it was easy and I liked to share emotional intimacy. Since then I’ve learned a lot of people could be my boyfriend. I must have gone on 50 Tinder dates and any of those guys theoretically could have become something serious. Dating so many men helped me to gain a sense of agency and authority in dating. Just because I go on a few dates with someone doesn’t mean I have to fall into a relationship, I’ve learned to be pickier and I’m SO much happier because of it. Ditch relationships of convenience and focus on only putting energy into relationships that have significant substance.
As long as I continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and work at love I know I will continue to expand my definition of what it means to love. What have you learned about love? Have your views on love changed since you were in high school or college?