The good thing about having a string of failed relationships is that you get a lot of opportunities to learn from your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them in the future. While relationships dynamics and requirements differ depending on the couple, there are some things you should never have to do for love. I’ve learned through experience when the relationship is healthy, you never have to do these things:
Change your body. I’ve fought a lengthy battle to love my body, and to be thankful for all it can do. And I won. So I will not ever be with anyone who doesn’t love my body exactly as it is, even as it changes over the years. I will never starve myself to be loved more, or torture myself to have bigger or smaller parts. I will probably never be thin. It’s not a goal. And I won’t make it a goal just to please you.
Give up your independence. I misplaced my trust in a partner who said they wanted to take care of me. I quit my job to follow my dreams. Then when she cheated on me, I was left with nothing and had very few options. From that day forth, I decided that I will always be able to take care of myself.
Fake orgasms. My sexual enjoyment will no longer take a back seat to making sure my partner is satisfied, trying to hide my body, and worrying about what my partner is thinking. I will have sex with reckless abandon and make sure I always enjoy it. I will be with partners who do the same.
Give up something you love. My first serious boyfriend (many moons ago) made me quit band because band camp was on his birthday. I loved band. I loved playing music. It’s a huge regret. I will continue to do the things I love, and to honor my artistic side, no matter what my partners have to say about it.
Share. I’ve done open relationships. I want my partner to be all mine. I want them all to myself. I want to be the only person they’re touching and loving and building with. Period.
Not be loved and appreciated completely. I will only spend my time and energy on people who think I’m everything. Who look in my eyes and see what makes me special. Who feel lucky to spend time with me. Not just people who want me, or who need me. People who absolutely adore me.
Live without equality. I want to be with someone who wants to be a real team. Who doesn’t want a maid, a cook, a taxi, a bank, a mistress, or a mother. Relationships are hard work, and I will only be with people who do their fair share of that work.
Doubt your worth. I’ve been with partners who saw me as a project. Who weren’t completely sold on my value. Who always spoke in “if only…” If only you were better, thinner, smarter, less awkward…” Never again. I determine my worth, and I demand a partner who respects my value.
Give all of yourself. I’m a hopeless romantic, it’s true. But I think that “all of me” BS is dangerous. I will never give all of myself to a partner ever again. I am mine. I belong to me. I will not place all of my eggs in someone else’s basket. I will not cut myself open and spread myself out on the table so that there are no parts of me that the world cannot see. I will keep some of me to myself, as a precious gift that’s only my own.
Keep things inside. Communication is not just a healthy part of a relationship, it’s an essential part. I will never keep my thoughts and feelings to myself just to keep the peace. I will not tell anyone what they want to hear. I will not bite my tongue when I don’t like how I’m being treated. Never.