For the most part, I have had very good luck when it comes to love in my life. Things have not always ended amicably, but after time, things are resolved and I now enjoy somewhat of a friendship with all of my former boyfriends.
I had my first real boyfriend when I was around 18 and we were in a relationship for about a year. He eventually left me because I wouldn’t sleep with him. That fact hurt me deeply at the time, but I have no regrets because my next relationship would be my first real love.
I would be in that relationship for the next 9 years. I moved to the next province for this boy. I was very deeply in love with him. In a lot of ways, we grew up together and suffered a lot of growing pains between us within the relationship.
There were a lot of good times and a lot of very rough times. That boyfriend played in a touring band and so I would often be left alone for months, working long hours so that we could pay all the bills, while he was off on the road playing music.
During this time, my drinking became problematic, which also caused a lot of strife in our relationship.
Near the end, I was accusing him of cheating on me when he was on tour and he was accusing me of acting like his mother. Once it was over, I think we both realized that our worst fears of the other were completely true.
I was utterly broken for a very long time. I went off my medication and practically lost my mind. It was an extremely difficult period. Thankfully, my current partner, John, noticed that I was saying some really depressing things on social media and reached out to me. We eventually agreed to meet up and it wasn’t too long after that that I was moving in my animals and all of my stuff.
He and I have been together for a little over 8 years now and it still amazes me how much I learned from my first long term relationship. Whenever I get frustrated or start to raise my voice, I always check myself and really think about what it is I want to say and the tone in which I want to say it.
I want John to know that I love him, in spite of what hardship we might be dealing with in that moment.
I have also learned the importance of honesty. I have always been honest in my relationships, but with John I am even more honest. For instance, if he is speaking to me in a way that I find is hurtful, I will calmly tell him that I would prefer that he not talk to me that way because, whether he is aware of it or not, it hurts my feelings. More often or not, this is enough to calm us both and bring things back to meaningful conversation about whatever the issue may be.
I feel that you have to be honest all the time. If you are feeling that you love your partner so much in that second, then you should say so! If you are being hurt by someones words or tone, then you should say so!
Another thing that I have learned is to always be thankful and appreciative of the things your partner does for you in the relationship. For example, at our house John does the laundry. It’s just the way it is. I have my chores and he has his chores. He always thanks me when I clean the bathroom or do the dishes and I always thank him when he does the laundry or takes out the dogs when it’s raining outside.
It might be his responsibility to do certain things, but that doesn’t mean that you should ever take it for granted.
You should also be courteous in your relationship. Ask your partner how they are doing and really mean it. Be genuinely concerned and really listen to their answer. Everybody wants to feel heard, especially from within their relationship.
Finally, don’t ever be too proud to apologize. It just isn’t worth it. Even if something should happen that you don’t feel completely responsible for, I am sure if you look, you can find your culpability somewhere. And when you apologize, be specific and mean it. Offer your apology with your whole heart. Your partner will feel that you are being genuine and will be more likely to apologize for their culpability as well.
Don’t forget to forgive. Over the course of a long term relationship, your partner is bound to disappoint you and even hurt you at some point. That is because they are human. As long as the hurt and disappointment doesn’t become habitual and you are both able to meaningfully apologize to one another then there is no reason why you can’t move past difficult times.
The most important aspect of true forgiveness is the act of letting go. Once you have forgiven something, you it has to leave your heart for good. You can’t bring up past misdeeds and attempt to use them as ammunition once you have forgiven someone.
Above all else, you have to have an open heart. You have to be ready and willing to listen and really hear your partner. You have to be willing to grow and evolve with your partner over time. You can’t be stagnant in a relationship. Life is about change. If you can’t stand to meet the change, you will be left behind.
I think that my relationship with John is so successful because neither of us are disillusioned about the fact that we are both incredibly flawed. We are honest about each other’s flaws and accept them in each other. We’re not nearly perfect and that is totally okay because we are always trying to do better. We are a good fit.
So what has been the most valuable lesson that you have learned about relationships in your own lives? What will you do differently, moving forward? Share in the comments below.