I am a sucker for love. Some would even say that I’m love’s biggest fan. My love for love runs so deeply that I cry pretty much every time Perfect by Ed Sheeran plays on the radio. I can’t help it! I think that the idea of selflessly caring for another being – be it your mother, lover, friend or dog – is beautiful. Love is one of the few things that every human being will experience at some point in their lives, and in a completely different way from everyone else.
Romantic love is scary, because you’re basically agreeing to be completely vulnerable with someone who doesn’t have to love you back. They aren’t bound to you by blood or by documentation stating that they can never leave. They make a conscious choice to be with you. You just have to trust that they’ll stay, or that, if they leave, you’ll be alright. That uncertainty terrifies a lot of people and I can’t blame them. It scares me too. But I still think that it’s worth it.
I chase love like it’s a meal and I haven’t eaten for days, but I also run from it like it’s a frickin’ cheetah and I’m a Kudu in the wild. The juxtaposition exists because, though I know that I want to be truly in love one day, my quest to find that best-friend who shares my values and is willing to continuously compromise with me has led me down a few less-than-ideal paths.
I can’t lie – I’m currently in the process of deconstructing my most recent relationship in order to find a way to move on and move up with my love game. I’m trying to remind myself that the woes of that relationship are not enough to detract me from the long and tiresome journey that I’ve taken to realize that I can date someone without spontaneously combusting.
Learning to be vulnerable and learning to put myself out there, in my romantic and platonic relationships, has led to a lot of my initial fears fading. I learned a few things that changed how I look at romantic relationships overall. Some of this stuff is painfully heterosexual so I apologize to those who can’t relate, but other points are universal truths about dealing with any human partner.
- Not all men are trash.
- Society is constantly encouraging men to suppress their emotions unless the emotion is anger. We need to change that so we can raise better men.
- Men are humans and humans make mistakes, so they are likely to screw up sometimes.
- There’s a difference between making a mistake and being a manipulative asshole, and no one has to stand for the latter.
- Apologies make a huge difference in how to respond to someone’s mistakes, but the apologies should also come with actions that prove an understanding of the root causes of said mistake and not just flowery words picked out from one of Lord Byron’s poems.
- If you agree to forgive a your partner for doing a trashy thing, you can’t keep bringing it up as a slap in the face every time you’re upset. You chose to forgive them on account of that behavior not being repeated. So, if they haven’t repeated it, don’t keep persecuting them for it. However, if they don’t change, you have full authority to break up with them and not deal with their bullshit anymore. Similarly, if you can’t forgive them, you’re allowed to admit that too.
- You can’t carry the baggage from your last relationship into a new one – don’t expect the next guy that comes around to be a piece of shit like your last boyfriend because that puts unfair pressure on future bae and breaks trust in a relationship before you’ve even built it.
- DON’T SET UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR PARTNER – you can’t ask your partner to never hurt you because of lesson number 3. People make mistakes and though we should never accept being purposefully deceived or hurt, we should be aware that our partners might unintentionally screw us over. By asking your partner to never hurt you, you’re raising the chances of them not being honest in the event that they do mess up. They won’t feel comfortable being honest for fear of hurting you. If you want them to give you agency over your own life, you have to let them know that you value the truth more than you value never being hurt (but that’s only if you do).
- Sharing at least one love language with your partner is crucial for you both to feel loved and appreciated in the relationship. Also, be sure to listen to your partner’s needs and adjust accordingly if you’re able to make a compromise without losing yourself in the process. Doing what you think is what they want vs. doing what they are actually asking for could be the difference between severe feelings of neglect and a great friendship-turned-romance. If you’re interested, you can find out your love languages here!
- The most important thing that I learned was a lesson that my dad taught me when I was seventeen: BE WITH SOMEONE WHO SHARES YOUR VALUES! Know what you value before you go into a relationship so that you know what you can and cannot stand for. Your values are at your core – they guide how you believe your life should be lived and when you’re sharing that life with someone else, it’s so crucial to agree on the big things. I don’t mean that you have to have the same hobbies or like the same color towels, but you should agree on factors that would affect how you deal with the world at large. How do you define respect? What does trust look like to you? What would you allow your partner to say about your family and what is completely off topic? Would you be content staying in everyday or are you someone who thrives on adventure? Would you be willing to compromise on either or would you feel like you’re losing a part of yourself? Do you like dogs? Would you ever consider having kids? What are your thoughts on gender and gender roles? Would you ever have a threesome? Why? Why not? These questions are totally random but somewhere in them is a lesson that you’ll learn about how your partner sees the world and whether you can see it from their point of view as well as your own. Are you okay with how they see the world manifesting in how they treat you, and the people and things around you?
I’ve learned all these lessons at high speed over the past few years and they’ve really helped me figure out – more maturely – what I would want in a relationship moving forward. My heartbreaks have taught me a lot about myself, and I can feel them preparing me for the day that my best-friend-turned-lover comes a-knocking. I don’t expect them to be perfect, but I’m willing to put in the work to make our relationship as perfect for us as it can be (bearing in mind that we will be two human beings capable of hurting each other, but doing our damn hardest to try not to).