Today I am finally sharing the last bunch of photos Jordan and I took with Aleigh back in June, it’s taken me long enough hasn’t it? I love thinking about feelings/emotions/relationships…ALL OF IT. I’m not mechanically minded, I’m not necessarily business minded, I am introspectively emotionally-mined (if that’s a thing…I’m declaring it a thing). I think about the world in terms of emotions and self reflection, meaning I dedicated a lot of thought to my interpersonal relationships.
Try as I might to be Carrie Bradshaw, I’m not a relationship expert. I am constantly learning, often times through my mistakes. So today I’m not preaching at you pretending I have all the answers but earnestly sharing what I’ve learned from dating Jordan for the past two and a half years. Check back with me a couple years from now and I’m certain my perspective will have evolved. If you’re not growing you’re dying am I right? (;
Love can come at Unexpected times from Unexpected People
Before meeting Jordan I had a mental checklist of what I wanted in a boyfriend and how/where I would find it. I dated guys I met at school, I dated guys I met through friends, guys I met at parties, and even guys I met on Tinder. I had this idea of what the “guy for me” would look like, what he would think like, and what his life would be like. We should all have high standards but dating isn’t (and shouldn’t be) like creating a character on The Sims (please tell me I wasn’t the only kid who loved that game). Life has a funny way of surprising you! When I met Jordan I was casually dating a handful of different guys whom, in many ways, looked better on paper for me. After a couple sushi dates, ski days and a road trip to California it was apparent that Jordan and I shared so much I wouldn’t have known how to quantify or verbalize on paper. Whatever it is that makes up our souls, it was like mine and Jordan’s were the same (thanks for putting it so eloquently Emily Brönte). Moral of the message? Be open. You never know who might surprise you!
Real Love is worth the work, but it does take Work!
I had a conversation with a friend recently about dating. He mentioned wanting a relationship that never loses it’s spark. As much as we all love a good starry-eyed, romantic, fireworks inducing spark, it isn’t realistic to assume the spark alone will make your relationship last. What drew me to Jordan initially was his commitment to working at a relationship. I remember him sharing his past dating experience with me and remarking “I’ve realized how much work even the best relationships take, I’m willing to put that work in for the right person”. I won’t pretend we’ve been through any of life’s most trying difficulties, but I do try and approach the issues we face with a proactive attitude. The more we are able to foresee and communicate difficulties before they occur the better we both are at doing what needs to be done to care for one another and ultimately our relationship.
Time is the most Important Gift you can Give
I don’t think I fully appreciated the value of someone else’s time until I started dating a workaholic! Jordan works more than anyone I know. I am very proud of everything he has built and achieved but his work often demands evenings, weekends, etc. In past relationships I took weekend trips and week night dinner dates for granted. Now with Jord’s crazy work schedule, I consider a three day weekend together a precious luxury! Maybe your significant other is attached to your hip or maybe you have it even tougher in a long distance relationship-no matter what, time is a gift.
When possible I try to give our date nights my undivided attention. I leave my phone at home (or in my purse). I allow myself to push aside other thoughts and stressors and I fully absorb the moment. When our schedules don’t allow for undivided attention I do what I can to make our relationship work in spite of secular commitments. I’ve brought dinner to Jord’s office so we could eat/work together and tagged along to work obligations (when appropriate) so we could share time before or after his commitments. Now that I’m in law school I don’t expect our outside commitments will wane over the next three years. Finding ways to be active in one another’s lives can take some creativity but serves as a powerful reminder of what (and who) is important to us.
All Relationships are Different; Stop Comparing!
In high school and college it always felt like there were two kinds of relationships: serious relationships and flings. If you were in a serious relationship you knew you had a prom date, maybe you called each other every night before bed, and went on double dates with friends. If you were in fling there wasn’t any talk of a future, maybe you were seeing multiple people, you get the gist. Now I realize relationships aren’t so black and white. Some people choose to treat long term relationships casually, some people get married after only knowing each other a short time, some couples live together before marriage, some couples never get married, some couples share finances after 2 months of dating, some couples don’t meet each other’s families for years…we are all different!
Subconsciously I used to look at my friend’s relationships as benchmarks for what normal, age-appropriate, healthy relationships should be like. My intent wasn’t malicious but Jordan helped me realize my way of thinking could easily morph into something toxic. Relationships aren’t a competition and they certainly aren’t worth comparing. How do you measure the success of your relationship? Your own happiness, respect for one another and commitment. Asking your family and friends for honest opinions and advice isn’t wrong, but please stay in your lane and stop the ridiculous comparing! No one can fully understand your relationship except for you and your significant other.
Allow your Partner to be Flawed.
Bad news, whether you accept it or not your significant other is living, breathing human which means at some point (likely at many points) he/she is going to eff up. Your boyfriend will forget to take out the garbage, or cancel on a dinner date last minute, he’ll say the wrong thing when you want to be comforted or forget to text you back ALL DAY. Your partner will never be perfect and it is important you stop holding him/her to a ridiculously high standard.
Jordan often comments that he appreciates my positivity. In most situations I do my best to remain optimistic and I think after a stressful work day it’s a big relief for him to come home to a girlfriend who is bubbly, happy and positive. When you cut me I don’t bleed sparkles and rainbows. Weird analogy aside, I have bad days just like everyone else. When I am grumpy or whiny or negative it doesn’t mean Jordan can walk away or give up on me (not if we want a successful long term relationship at least). Just because he thought he signed up for the sunshine-y happy girl doesn’t mean he gets that every single moment of every single day, know what I mean? I need room to be human. I need room for the times I accidentally leave a burn mark on the carpet by dropping my curling iron. I need room to cry and feel sorry for myself when the world feels like it’s falling apart. I need room to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. We all do. Give your partner room to be human. This doesn’t mean we stop trying to be our best selves. Being human isn’t an excuse to act like a brat everyday for no reason and it certainly doesn’t mean staying with a partner who treats you like dirt. Recognize that you cannot expect your partner to be perfect and you will be a whole lot happier, I bet your partner will be too.