Being single has taught me things about relationships there’s no way I would have learned as someone’s girlfriend. Relationships vary in meaning and depth from one person to another, but here are some universal lessons I think we can all take to heart.
Relationships don’t make you happy. They add to your happiness but that’s about it. It’s your own responsibility to make yourself happy because happiness is an inside job. Start with yourself. Make your life your happy place before you bring a partner into it. You can be happy with your guy even if you’re going through a rough patch in your relationship—all you need to know is that walking into a relationship doesn’t make your life magically perfect. You have to put in the effort to get to where you want to go.
Not all relationships are partnerships. Just because you’re with someone doesn’t mean you’re actually together. Relationships are about teamwork. They’re about walking in the same direction and having common goals. There are many people out there who compete with their partners and consistently putting them down without even knowing it. Relationships are about being each other’s best friend. They’re about believing in each other and supporting one another.
The strongest couples spend time apart. Being together all the time isn’t a sign of a healthy relationship. You need to have a balance between being your own person and being in a relationship. Do some things on your own and encourage him to do the same. Spending time apart will improve your relationship because it will give you time to miss your guy and have things to talk to him about. You’ll find that being more independent will make you a stronger couple because your relationship is based on choice, not fear.
Honesty isn’t always the best policy. Being kind in your relationship is more important than being right. There will be times when your guy doesn’t need your tough love. Instead, he’ll need you to hug him and tell him things will be OK. Sometimes we have good intentions but our actions don’t reflect that. You’ll find yourself in situations where you need to speak your truth, yes, but you don’t have to break his heart while doing it.
You can’t fix people, you can only love them. You can’t make him into someone he’s not or someone he’s not ready to become. Accept him for who he is right now. Don’t fall for his potential then waste your relationship on trying to change him, hoping he’ll be what you’ve imagined him to be. He might be broken, damaged, or lost but he doesn’t need you to fix him up. He needs you to heal him, and you can only do that by loving him for who he is. You can only do that when you love his flaws before his perfections. Love him when he’s weak like you love him when he’s strong.
Relationships don’t work without a strong basis of friendship. What makes a difference between a friend and a lover is being intimate. If you’re not friends, your relationships won’t last. The stronger your friendship, the stronger your relationship. To build a lasting relationship, you’ll need to be friends and lovers but not necessarily at the same time. Sometimes you’ll let each other make mistakes, sometimes you’ll guide each other. Be friends in the sense that you don’t hide things from each other and you’re there for one another when you need each other. Be lovers in the sense that the love you have for each other is so big and special.
There’s a major difference between being in love and loving someone. A successful relationship is two people who are in love with each other and love one another. You can be in love with someone without actually loving them, and you can love someone but not be in love with them. Being in love is how you feel about them; loving someone is what you do for them. You need passion in a relationship, yes, but you also need commitment.
Arguing in a relationship is necessary. Arguing is a good thing for your relationship because it means that you’re being real to who you are. Don’t alter your beliefs and what you want in life to please your partner. Speak your mind and don’t be afraid of having tough, deep, heavy conversations. There’ll be times where you can’t see eye to eye and that’s OK, but never let your arguments push you away from each other. Instead, use them to come closer. There are fights that make a relationship, and there are fights that break them.
Relationships die because people get too comfortable. Stay consistent with the effort you put into your relationship. Never stop investing in your partner. Surprise him. Try new things. Go on dates and adventures. Always work on becoming a better partner and a better person. Never stop growing because the moment you stop, your relationship does too.
Relationships aren’t for everyone. Some people aren’t made for relationships just like some people aren’t made for being single. Some people ride better solo. It’s not that they can’t keep a human connection, it’s that relationships are just not for them. Maybe they’re free-spirited. Maybe they just like being on their own.
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