Full disclosure: I’m in a great relationship with an amazing guy. Yeah. I said it. I’m not being bias either. If relationships were a science, then scientists would study us because …um, yeah we’re crushing it. Sometimes I take it for granted. We just ‘work’ together, you know. It’s so easy and effortless.
I like to tell people that I didn’t just settle for someone in my home city of Perth Australia, I went out and searched the world for him and found my “perfect” guy all the way in Edinburgh, Scotland.
We’ve been together now for 10 years and I can still be surprised everyday by something he says or does or what he thinks. We keep each other on our toes, laugh regularly, constantly supporting and continually bettering ourselves and each other.
The thing is, we spend more time together than most couples. We work together, we live together, we travel together and have done for years.
I know of couples who can’t spend more than one week alone in a hotel room together without arguing and getting on each other’s nerves. Or who need to work separately in their own jobs so that most of their day is spent apart. That’s not us. Not to say we can’t do stuff apart, but it’s always something we would want to do that the other person wouldn’t, not need to do to get away from each other.
It’s Not Perfection
We’re both creatives who like to learn. So there’s always something new we’re learning and teaching each other. We’re always coming up with new ways to do things or new things for us to do or places to go.
It’s never boring when we’re together. We talk about our ideas all the time. He’s my sounding board and I’m his. I don’t tell him what to do. I don’t want to change him, or mould him to be the perfect boyfriend. I appreciate him for him.
We have similar values and oodles in common. Even me using the word ‘oodles’ in public isn’t a deal breaker. That’s how strong this is. But, we also still have our own individual personalities and hobbies.
Don’t get me wrong, the relationship is not perfect. I’m not perfect. He’s not perfect. I don’t have any illusions that we are. But together it works. I wouldn’t want him to be perfect or exactly like me or the relationship to be predictable, where’s the fun in that? It’s our differences that make the relationship so much more exciting.
Which brings me to the point of this article. So here’s the sign of a good relationship. You know you’re in a good one when that person makes you a better version of yourself (by your standards, not theirs).
They support what you want to do, even if it doesn’t interest them one bit. They encourage you to go after your dreams, even if it is beyond your current reach but they’re also not afraid to tell you the truth when you need to hear it.
The relationship comes first, before making money, before geographic constraints and they are just as responsible for making the relationship work. No one owns anyone. It’s more than a relationship, it’s a partnership. This is the relationship that stands the test of time.
When it Goes Wrong
I know of a women who has gotten pregnant to keep a guy. I know of a man who forbid his girlfriend from socialising with her friends or to even leave the house. I know of a women who forbid her partner from seeing his friends. I myself was once in a relationship where the guy would flirt with women right in front of me and eventually cheated on me with my friend. It happens to the best of us.
I know of relationships where one overpowers, dominates and controls the other; where emotional manipulation is a constant source of tension and frustration and the people involved become shells of the people they once were.
Yet, they stay. They stay because they don’t want to be alone. They stay because they don’t think they can find someone else to love. They stay because they believe they are in love. They believe that the other person loves them and that they will change, despite proving every day, that is not the case.
I know no relationship is perfect. As we’ve established, mine included. But at a minimum, there is a certain level of honesty, respect and trust that you should expect from your relationship. If you don’t have that, then you need to have the courage to do something about it.
When you’re upset or miserable on a daily basis, or more often then you are happy. When what they say contradicts how they act. When you have to second guess their motives. When they lie about where they are or what they’re doing. When you’re relationship looks like it could have been a contender for Jerry Springer. Then girl, you need to leave.
What You Lose
From that relationship where I was cheated on, through to the one I am in now, I can see a huge difference in myself. Granted, that other one was my first serious relationship in my early 20’s so I was a lot younger and naive then, but I do know I was crying on an almost daily basis towards the end of those 2 years.
I thought I was just a jealous, weak, emotional, insecure person. The kind of person who shouldn’t be or wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship. He made me question my capability for love. But it turns out, I had every right to feel unloved and mistrusting.
The next person I learnt to trust and was serious about, was actually a great guy but he ended dying from an accident less than a year later. Those two relationships alone could have scarred me for life and ruined me for all relationships. The betrayal, the lies, the cheating, the crying, the loss, the heartache. But they didn’t. I didn’t let them.
If they had I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now in my current relationship. I could have missed out on this.
In my current relationship, I’m not the same person I believed I was. It turns out I’m not the jealous or insecure type because my current boyfriend doesn’t give me reason to be. I trust him completely even when he went road-tripping with his friends around the US for 4 weeks.
When we’re in relationships that are wrong for us, it affects us on so many levels that we’re probably not even aware of. We might feel insecure and lose confidence in ourselves. We might lose our ability to love and trust another.
We might close ourselves up in order to protect ourselves and in doing so, we might risk future relationships and jeopardise our chances for future happiness. Women might consider that all men are the same and can’t be trusted. Or men might think that all women are the same and so they never allow themselves to get too emotionally involved. We put up our protection shields.
If we never give ourselves the chance or have the courage to be vulnerable again, we might miss out on something amazing.
Chance For Happiness
I’m no relationship guru, but I do know this. You have to love yourself before you can expect others to love you and you should never be afraid to be single because it will give you a chance to know what you want and what you deserve. In fact, I recommend it.
Don’t be afraid of being alone. Until you’ve dealt with your demons, you don’t deserve to be a healthy relationship. You’re just going to mess up someone else or add to your own baggage.
Don’t be in a rush to be in a relationship or to find someone. They will come into your life when the time is right and when you least expect it. Just be open to new opportunities, while you work on making yourself happy.
When you’re in a relationship and you feel like you’re becoming less and less the person that you used to be, the person that you spent most of your life creating and improving and becoming, you need to leave before you become someone you’re not. There’s always going to be some compromise, but if that compromise is all one sided, then you’re in a dictatorship, not a relationship.
Not every man is the same. Not every woman is the same. We’ve all just had bad experiences that have shaped our defences. Don’t lose yourself trying to change them. It’s not your place. Give them time and space to change themselves, in and on their own time and of their own volition.
Don’t compare them to past experiences or your friend’s partners. Appreciate them for who they are now. Not who they have the potential to be.
Lastly, and this is a big one, if you’re in a relationship that you know is not working out, don’t waste any more time in it. End it. Be kind. You’re not doing yourself or them any favours. You’re taking up time you could be spending with someone that is meant for you and denying your partner the chance to be with someone who deserves them and who would love them more than you.
So if you want to strive for a full amazing life and live your full potential, then your relationship is also going to need to be on point. No more mental games, power plays, sadness, arguments, silence and tension. No more low self esteem or lack of confidence and trust in humanity. Don’t you deserve better than that?