As I grow, I find myself meeting more and more questions, especially about love, about our relationships. I have come a long way from the kind of person I used to be in relationships. I think I was a challenging/ unfair partner in my first few relationships. I was so emotionally unstable, I´m not even joking, and I had no knowledge of how to calm what felt like a storm inside me. I didn’t really know how to be in a relationship or how to even be a good partner. I also somehow acted like the entire relationship was about me and my feelings 24/7…yikes, I know!
Unfortunately, Like far too many, I didn´t grow up with the greatest example of a healthy relationship, so I just had to wing it. I didn´t know how to maintain it nor how to nurture my partner and myself, I didn´t know what happens after you both agree to date each other.
For some reason I always thought that that was the hardest part, finding a partner fighting obstacles to find each other (Disney reality) and finally, once together, curtains roll and the rest is happily ever after, easy breezy cover girl times. Yet most of my relationship only started being adventurous/hard as bricks, once we became a couple. It seriously felt like getting a study list from your teacher and told to study it well and diligently for an important exam, only to show up to the exam and the list you studied only covered 10% of the entire exam. Now what? Well, you wing it, you chance it, you cry through the rest, you figure it out as you go along.
So in short, here is the (some of) the rest of the study list most of us never got. (Keep in mind, i´m still winging it, but perhaps this can help someone out there who also feels like they have had to wing it, be a little more prepared). Okay, let´s start:
- The first one is semi easy: Being a good partner is sorta like being a good friend but with extra and different goodnesses. So, be kind, be considerate, be supportive, be understanding, do fun things, actually care for each other. Also, dating people you can´t imagine being friends with is super different/difficult compared to dating someone who you also can see as a friend.
- You partner is human before they are a fantasy embodiment of your “dream partner”. They don´t exist to fulfil your ideals, but they are people in their entirety first. Therefore, avoid putting them anywhere you would´t want to be put, neither as a doormat nor on a pedestal. Instead see them for what they are again, beings also trying to wing an exam they didn´t likely study much for either.
- Everyone comes with baggage, some of it is light and fluffy and amazing, some of it is not so nice, heavy and sometimes saddening. However, these are the collections of stories and experiences that have made the person you are now in love with, who they are. It is a part of their journey that you missed up on, a sorta of preview before a show in order to understand where the story you are about to engage with came from. Understanding each others baggage is super important! Which brings me to the next point; communication.
- Communication is also super helpful in making healthy relationships. I am sure this was already on the study list, but i´m adding it again for safety. Communication is also more than just, “you talk, I listen, then I talk and you listen” – communicating is sometimes the only way we can get into what other people are really thinking and feeling. However, because of the previously mentioned lessons such as, baggage and the fact that you are dating a human being, not a one dimensional fantasy character, communication can be complicated. Complicated because it is like a dance influenced by all the other things not being verbally communicated at that moment. Stay mindful of how you communicate, how other people communicate, what are you actually trying to communicate? Are you communicated at the right time? Are you guys communicating tough things on an empty stomachs? On little sleep? Side note, communication is also more than just verbal obviously, it´s energetic, it´s body language, it´s tone play, it´s everything in-between sometimes. It´s a rather complex dance but worth learning as best as you can. It seems like a lot, but take your time, one thing at a time right?
- Be on the same team as a couple. Yes you can disagree and be annoyed at each other, but at the end of the day, remember that you are on the same team.
- Be also on your own team, check yourself when you are in the wrong, indulge in healthy personal care, emotionally and physically. Don´t abandon your own being and put it as a responsibility of your partner. Yes, there are certain things in you that your partner can help you with and there are certain things only you know how to fix, so take responsibility for your part in the team. It wouldn´t be fair to expect your partner to play all the parts on the field, you need to play your part too, and play it as best as you can. As always, If you mess up, fess up, and if you don’t slack on your part, the relationship won´t start to lack either as a whole.
- This next one is a bit harsh, but bear with me. Be willing to give your partner what you expect from them too. It´s super easy to create a list of the personal characteristics we desire from our ideal partner, but very few of us are actually willing or able to give in return those same characteristics. This to be honest, isn´t really fair nor a foundation for a healthy relationship. If you want someone who is patient, committed, loyal, caring, understanding, someone who makes you feel special and loved but you yourself can´t or have no desire to actually be those things for them, that can´t work. You can’t expect to be given but having no desire to work on yourself so you too have something to give or even share too. To be fair, we don´t always find people who have everything we have or want everything we want. However, we should at least try to be able to fulfil the most important personal qualities we are looking for in someone else. In brief, be what you expect from others, or reflect on why you feel entitled to qualities in others if you can´t always fulfil them yourself.
- Also, Get out of the way of your own happiness. Some of us, think we want to be happy, when actually we are very allergic to it because of all kinds of reasons from our pasts. Maybe you didn´t grow up in an always stable house, so you learnt to always expect things to fall a part, and you learnt the pattern so well that now as an adult, even when things don´t fall a part, you pull them apart because that´s all you are used to. You look for ways to sabotage everything in your life that could challenge what you have become used to: Unhappiness and instability. Be aware of these tendencies, be very real and honest with yourself and partner about these things. If you are really serious about wanting to be happy, then do the work to change these pattern and learn new and healthier ones. Unfortunately, this is an individual project so really do the work and you will never regret that you did. We don´t have to keep everything we inherited from our childhoods, some of it, we can give ourselves permission to let go of, to unlearn :).
- Don´t get in a relationship as a means to escape yourself. If you don´t like yourself by yourself, don´t invite a second person in the mix so that your misery can have some company. I know this is hard and it´s so tempting with all those convincing love and pro couples advertisement, telling you that love will fix it all. While sometimes it can and might, but like the previous point, YOU have to do the work yourself too. To love yourself, to trust yourself, to balance yourself. I´m not saying we have to be perfect to enter a relationship, just that again, a relationship is a mini group project and it works better if everyone comes into it prepared as best as possible for the project. Whatever else lacks or falls short can most often be figured out together.
- Second last but not least, relationships are amazing things! You get to find someone who cherishes you and wants to share a seat with you on your life adventure. Don´t take that for granted, don´t take each other for granted. Relationships are also started by choices and the choices never stop, just because you get someone to sit next to you. The choices continue on a daily basis. Choices to be a good partner or not, to be supportive or not so much. Obviously, it´s super hard to guarantee whether or not a relationship lasts or not after all these choices, but what you do have power over, is your part in the relationship while as it lasts. You are with someone because you love them right? So why not make sure you do your best to leave them at least better off than you found them? To be a positive and uplifting addition to their lives, big or small, just by putting in the effort. If you aren´t in a relationship to create something beautiful, a safe haven for the both of you, to heal, to grow and take care of each other, then why be in a relationship? So always be mindful of not only your intent, but your effort towards that intent. If you balance these two things, honestly and authentically, it will be hard to view any relationship, present or past as anything but an opportunity to expand personally and consciously. To learn, to heal and become a more balanced being with the beautiful help of another soul.
- But really, most of all, enjoy it and relax. Life is more forgiving and playful than we sometimes give it credit, if you fail, get back again and always be willing to grow and learn. Everything else, kinda works out at its own pace after that. Turn the bad ones into lessons and the good ones into blessings and you will most likely be more than fine.
So I guess, that is the study list for relationships, as I can think of it at this point in my own life. Perhaps in the future it will evolve, as will I. I hope it adds some value to you and your relationships and gives you hope for creating more healthier relationship. Remember, as always, no one really knows it all, we are all semi-winging it. So there isn´t much failing in the sense of an ‘exam’, just learning and growing but you have to engage with things/situations in order to learn from them.
All in all, best of wishes to everyone out there giving it their best, don´t loose hope or love and don´t be too discouraged, it´s all a part of the life experience at the end of the day.
And, as always, don´t be a stranger either