It’s easy to stick with what’s comfortable from everything ranging from your hobbies to the things you eat. But when it comes to dating, stepping out of your comfort zone and searching for someone who pushes you to try and think new things can be the greatest decision you’ll ever make for yourself. Here’s why:
Pushovers get boring. Fast. Like, really fast. If you’re with someone who just agrees with you all the time, you’ll find yourself running out of things to talk about pretty fast. I mean, what’s the point in talking about the election if you both already know what the other person is going to say? While it might seem like a good idea at the time for the low level of emotional engagement you need, someone who challenges you will make you a lot happier in the long run.
Having someone challenge you makes you realize what’s truly important. There’s nothing quite like talking to someone who has a TOTALLY different world view from you to make you realize what’s really important to you and what isn’t. Whether it’s a discussion about taking a year off to travel or about raising kids in the city vs the suburbs, having the courage to talk through dissenting opinions is a great way to explore your own values.
You’ll be a better person. Someone challenging you will make you question your own biases and assumptions and help you engage more with the world around you. What’s more, being exposed to things like new cultures, politics, beliefs, values, and norms and being pushed to either accept or reject them creates an avenue for you to critically analyze them. When you do that, you engage more with the world around you — usually for the benefit of everyone.
You’ll learn way more new things. Whether it’s a new activity you would NEVER try otherwise or a new meal you thought you could never make, being with someone who challenges you will force you to learn new things just to keep up. What’s more, you’ll get the chance to teach someone else new stuff as well, which in my book is one of the best things you can do with your partner.
You’ll become a better communicator. You’ll get a lot better at disagreeing, compartmentalizing arguments, and separating out personal heat from a debate on abstract issues. The better you are at this, the more fun you’ll have engaging with the people around you.
You’ll be better at seeing the other side of the problem. We often forget when we only see information that confirms our beliefs (e.g. our Facebook feed every day) that there are actually two sides to most issues. It’s nice being able to see and understand the other side if only to better understand what you believe.
You’ll learn how to challenge THEM (without it blowing up in your face). Knowing how to politely disagree with someone, push them out of their own comfort zone, and get them to understand YOUR perspective is an invaluable skill. When you’re with someone who forces you to do this, you get a lot better at it.
You’ll see the world through fresh eyes. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the world from your own unique point of view. Things like your own privilege, bias, and unconscious thoughts that govern your attitudes and behaviors will all pass unnoticed if you’re with someone who doesn’t challenge you. But if you’re with someone who will challenge you, you get a lot better at seeing the world from a different perspective.
You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone. Someone challenging you isn’t about bickering all the time or dating someone from the other side of the aisle. It’s not about dating a rugged mountain man if you’re a through-and-through urbanite. It’s not about fighting all the time over everything. It’s about being with someone who will push you out of your comfort zone in a way that lets you explore the world in a positive, supportive way. Who knows — you might even learn about a new passion along the way.
You’ll learn to disagree in a positive way. Honestly, the best thing about being in a relationship with someone who challenges you is that you’ll learn to disagree in a positive way. You’ll learn to say “No, I don’t think that’s right” and still be able to snuggle up to them at night. And that’s truly invaluable.
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