The last time I wrote a relationship post I was single and ready to mingle, but was not having any luck. Fast forward to now: I have been dating my boyfriend, Charlie, for almost a year (March 19th is coming up!) I always joke that we have been unofficially dating for much longer since we liked each other when we met 6 years ago.
I haven’t been in many relationships, but this by far is the most serious one. Being with Charlie has taught me so many things about love, life, him, and myself. Here are a few highlights of what I have learned in a year.
Setting expectations is essential: Happiness occurs when expectations are met or exceeded. It’s important to try and see the other person for who they REALLY are and not who you want them to be or think they are. Charlie and I took the time to get to know each other before we were “official” and I think that really helped us understand each other on a realistic level rather than idealizing each other. Having clear expectations on who that person is, what you want from the relationship, and the future helps maintain harmony.
Trust is the foundation: Charlie and I take our “in a relationship” status seriously and aren’t trying to talk to other people or even entertain the idea. For us, loyalty and faithfulness are a standard. Bottom line: be loyal and expect loyalty.
Rough patches will happen: I don’t know why childhood movies portray relationships to be all rainbows and butterflies, happily ever after with your Prince Charming because that’s not realistic. Relationships are CHALLENGING. They require investing time, feelings, energy, dedication, and practice. Of course there are happy times, but also times that test how you feel about the other person and what you want. If you can make it through those tough times together then it only strengthens what you have with that person.
Learn how to fight: Charlie and I have had our fair share of arguments and I quickly learned how different we are when it comes to communicating our anger. I am an emotional person and easily break down crying and then shut down during fights, which is NOT helpful. Charlie is the opposite and very quick with his words, so you can imagine our fights. I have found out how important it is to be able to channel my emotions in a productive way where I can express what I feel, but in a beneficial way that opens up communication. Sometimes that means saying “I need 5 minutes to myself to calm down and then we can discuss the issue”
It’s ok to be different: Similarities keep the relationship going and differences keep it intriguing. It’s very easy to get along with someone who has your same values, interests, hobbies, habits, but having differences teaches you to be more open minded. Of course, it’s helpful to have an open discussion in the beginning if there are different values (ex. religion, politics, future goals) and come to a decision if it’s a “deal breaker” or not before you dive into a relationship. I would say that Charlie and I are similar people, but we have different hobbies, which I enjoy because I feel I have kept my identity throughout our relationship. Plus, we each get a good amount of Me Time.
Listen to understand, not to reply: this sounds easier than it actually is and it’s something I work on all the time. Things can get heated during arguments and I admit to having a hard time listening to what Charlie says instead of putting in my two cents or wanting to be “right.” I have to remind myself to take a step back and try to understand his point of view instead of always being defensive or argumentative.
Treat each other kindly: This sounds so crazy, but treat your significant other well. Sometimes when you talk to or see someone everyday you forget to be nice in the way you would be to a stranger. Take care of each other, help each other, do small things to brighten the other person’s day, compliment each other. All those small things add up and make the relationship stronger.
It’s amazing how being in a relationship has helped me grow in all aspects of my life. I look forward to more lessons!