Now don’t get this post wrong, I don’t consider myself to be a relationship expert by any means. In fact, I’ve had three serious, long-term relationships that I would say have really changed me as a person. The first I was forced out, the second I left and the third I’m still happily a part of but I wanted to share what I have learnt so far, even if it’s just for personal reference to remind me, if I need it in the future.
And so the following is a short list of love and relationship signposts that I hope will provide clarity and support, if you should ever need them:
1. It is entirely possible to put up with a load of crap in a relationship and still want to hang around, as if you’re trying to prove you love them or you’re staying out of a weird sense of loyalty. But really, it’s for a number of other reasons; addiction to that person, being afraid of being alone or perhaps even seeing them as the person who’s helping you out. It only leads to confusion, lows and self-loathing and no matter how much they apologise, they can always hurt you again. If this is you, then walk away – it isn’t love.
2. If you or your partner are suffering from a serious lack of self-worth then it’s not going to work, there may be potential but it won’t. I still remember what I learnt in A-level Psychology and it is this – if your relationship is unequal then it has no longevity. I’ve found this to be true in both previous relationships and mostly due to my own negative feelings.
3. You can have a great relationship without that person being your soul mate. After being with Green Ranger for nearly 3 years now, I now know (or think I know) what it’s like to have found your soul mate. Before, I was sceptical but now I know what it’s like to have found mine and it is simply a fact of just ‘knowing’. That’s not to say that my past two relationships didn’t have their good times, they did. Some of my happier memories are from them and I would never trade them.
4. Having been the person broken up with, when it feels like the end of your world and being the person to break up with someone, I can say that your ex was undoubtedly troubled too by your break up. It is in a different way but that makes it no less true. The feelings of guilt after hurting the person you’ve left and the loss of something you once had are both poignant and shouldn’t be cast aside. Of course, when you’re hurt and crying into a box of Kleenex, this probably won’t be remembered.
5. If you’ve been with your partner a while but it isn’t working, and you’ve tried and tried but nothing is improving, then walk. I tried for over a year in my first two relationships and it only made the situations a lot worse, with heartache on both sides. There will always be love and opportunity elsewhere, it just may take time to find.
6. Part of the reason for the last point was this – loving someone and being in love with someone are two very different things. It took me time to realise that I loved my last partner but wasn’t in love with him. We were close friends previously and I believe that’s where the confusion came in but nonetheless, it is something to consider.
7. ‘You can’t love someone until you love yourself’ is a lie. You can but it just sets you up for a whole lot of other problems. Namely that you rely on that person for every little bit of justification and self-worth you never gave yourself. Work on building that love and respect for yourself but know that your partner can help with this too. While we’re on the topic of lies, ‘No one can make you happy except yourself’ – that’s another one. Others can make you happier than you’ve ever managed to achieve yourself. It’s just that you have to admit that you’re not always self-sufficient and it’s good to rely on someone else once in a while for happiness. So, let them make you happy.
8. Most things can be worked through in a relationship, it just depends whether you want to. I’m not going to go into how I know this but it is possible. You just have to seek help together sometimes.
9. You don’t always have to hate your ex in order to move on, all you need is the acceptance that it is over. It is even ok to have an affectionate gratitude for the relationship you had as long as you keep that boundary. I did this in my first relationship and it worked wonders in the long run. We’re still friends now.
10. I’ll stop rambling now but just remember, you have one life and you have to choose how to make the best of it. Don’t waste your time waiting for something that isn’t there or accept being treated badly. Find that one person that makes you happy and make the most of it.
What would you add? Would you change any of the above?