21 years, 2.5 semi broken hearts, 1 long term relationship, and a wealth of creepy uncles and randomers encountered – I wanted to share a few lessons in relationships I’ve learned over time (soon to expand to lessons in friendships, careers, etc). I have a lot to learn, and a plethora of years and developments I can only imagine ahead of me, but here are my 5 lessons in 21 years…
1. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but they’re not all right for you…
Everyone says that there’s plenty of fish in the sea – and I totally stand by this. There’s a good couple of people out there for everyone (I don’t necessarily because in one ‘soul mate’ out there for everyone, but that’s a story for another day…), and some people might meet that person at age 16, some might meet that person at age 30, but it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen (unless your plans are to be a life-long bachelor/ette). BUT, when you have high standards in terms of what you look for in a partner, the number of fish to choose from dwindles and dwindles. You may have a certain type, or perhaps look for certain qualities in a partner – not only do you have to find this person, but then your personalities have to genuinely click, and that’s when things get hard. I’ve learned it’s not as easy to meet someone who you can genuinely carry out a long-term relationship with as I once thought (remember, I started university expecting to be handed a plate of eligible bachelors and ended first year single as can be, thinking “well, damn. That didn’t quite go to plan.”)
2. Every relationship is (very) different
It’s hard sometimes to ever give relationship advice, because all relationships are just so different. For example, some couples spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week together, and some spend two days a week together, and that’s what works for them. Some couples move in with each other after a few months, some wait to do that until they’re married. In fact, some couples declare a few months into their relationship that they are getting married – ‘they just know it’ – and some, even five years down the line, are just going with the flow and seeing where life takes them. My boyfriend lives with two guys that are both also in relationships and each of our relationships are just so different from each other; it doesn’t mean anyone’s is ‘better’, it just means that relationships are so uniquely different and no one truly understands them but the people in them. I think, other than having respect, a number one important factor in any relationship, regardless of your dynamic, is to be truly down for your other half.
3. Relationships can bring out some of your best qualities
I honestly think relationships are so great in terms and growth and bringing out some of your better qualities. For example, since I’ve been with my boyfriend, I’ve become a much more considerate person. I might see a bath set that looks pretty good in Boots that I think my mum may like, and just decide to buy it and surprise her. Also, relationships have made me more considerate when it comes to other people’s feelings. You really don’t have to jump into every relationship thinking “this is who I’m going to marry”, especially not at this age, even if you just want to ‘go with the flow’, relationships are a great way to enhance some key qualities.
4. A bad relationship can send you into a ‘victim’ cycle
I was under this impression a few years ago that I was genuinely a victim – it was always me who was either single when all my friends were dating, or in contact was someone who was just a generally crappy person – and I cried ‘woe is me’ one time too many. A lot of people pull out the victim card when it comes to failed relationships, but instead of feeling sorry for yourself and believing you are for some reason cursed, it’s much smarter to use a bad relationship to grow and make better decisions for the future. I believe very strongly in the ‘law of attraction’, and if you have it in your mind that something will always go wrong and that you’re just unlucky, you could very well end up messing up something pretty good.
5. Settling is never the answer
In my first year of university, as I sat in my friend’s bedroom gossiping away, we both mutually agreed that if we continued to entertain the guys we were speaking to, we would be ‘settling’. Granted, we both did, and both situations eventually blew up in our faces. Settling is easy to do – especially when you’re not satisfied with being alone, or when that person continually pursues you. But I’ll tell you with a hand on my heart, even if you’re 30 and have yet to be in a relationship – it won’t work out. Because you’ll never truly be happy. A lot of people give advice that girls in particular need to lower their expectations and not have such a checklist when it comes to picking their other half, but I don’t agree with this – hold out for what you think you deserve, never settle for what you believe is less just because, because it’s bound to end in flames.