Most of us mosey between single, dating and committed in a half-rapturous, half-tortured loop for a large portion of our lives. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to love, life and relationships. There are no rules and there is no normal when it comes to the heart; it’s different for each of us, every single time.
However! A fresh perspective never hurts when it comes to me telling you about what I’ve learned when it comes to being in a relationship over this past year.
Love for yourself! A love of being single! Love for the journey of finding love, rather than just the destination! Love for our exes, who all teach us something even if we want to tip them into the ocean! And of course: wholehearted and respectful love for others. All of these parodies have got me to this current place on the love spectrum and here it is broken down into ten phenomenons…
1. Don’t compare yourselves to other people
My number one piece of advice for anyone in a relationship is to not compare yours to anyone else’s. You may have friends who go on more dates or trips and some couples who have sex once a week while others do it every other day (yes, I’m diving right in)! If you are happy with how often, how many dates you do or do not go on and/or are happy with the amount of time you spend watching TV on the couch together – who cares about anyone else! You do you! Also, do not compare your ‘real’ life to chick flicks and over the top romantic stories we see in film, you’ll never be Julia Roberts.
2. Don’t be a brat
Sometimes I find myself acting like a petulant three year old who didn’t get to play with the toy she wanted. The reasoning is generally pathetic. He’s going off to training for the night, he’s going to the movies with his friends, he’s staying late after work to have a beer with his colleagues. Please Danielle, if you wanted to do all of these things, you would expect nothing but understanding and a solid ‘high-five I’ll see you later’ attitude. You can have your cake and eat it too, you just have to learn to share it.
3. Always compromise on how you see the world
You know what I’m talking about. It’s your way or the highway. Turns out it really isn’t and that big scary word called compromise has been pivotal for me in this first year. Even if you’re thinking irrationally, a fresh perspective from the other half on how you’re seeing things generally gives you the ability to chill out and show some logic in a situation. Even if certain things HAVE to be done a certain way in your mind – spoiler alert – they don’t.
4. Embrace the milestones
This past year has been celebrated month by month for us. I know I know, it’s over the top lovey dovey but it hasn’t been done necessarily with a dozen roses and an orchestra. Even a kiss on the cheek or a bear hug has sufficed. I take great pride in prioritising milestones no matter how big or small. Otherwise you’re just going about day by day treading murky water and not really celebrating the reason you got together in the first place. Another month, week and day together is tip top! So don’t be ashamed to embrace them however small or large.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Trust me – males certainly don’t. Us females are hardwired to have some pretty lavish and bizarre ways of thinking. I think this sums it up perfectly though:
6. Learn to share
His only commitment isn’t just you sister. Just as much as the bed isn’t just yours anymore either – big hurdle for someone who used to sleep in the middle of the bed positioned resembling a starfish every night.
7. Prioritise your time together
It doesn’t have to be huge and it doesn’t mean nothing just because it’s small. Spending time together is vital in just getting to know them that little bit more and embracing the connection you have with one another over a movie on the couch or an eggs benedict at your local cafe. Nine times out of ten the time you prioritise together is the time you remember why you decided to be together in the first place. And that’s just all sorts of cute and cuddly.
8. Love is not a battlefield. Your head is
Yes, love can feel like tiptoeing through a forest of explosives. But ultimately it’s everything in between our ears that gives us that experience. It’s our thinking, wiring, definitions, triggers, insecurities, and beliefs about ourselves — all formed from our story, which does include previous love experiences. The destruction is real, but where it comes from is not love itself. It comes from us. Jealousy doesn’t come from love; it comes from our own insecurities. Jumping to conclusions and making assumptions based on feelings instead of facts doesn’t come from love; that comes from our cognitive distortions. My advice? Take a chill pill, and until they give you a reason not to trust them – you trust them wholeheartedly.
9. There is no such thing as perfect
We all want the perfect partner. But if that’s your endgame, you’re going to be playing the game forever. No one is perfect, and you should know this. But we keep searching for perfect, and it makes us judge and dismiss people, and miss out on a lot of what-ifs. I’ve learned to toss all my definitions, labels, and what I think “perfect” looks like. It will give you your ocean back. Or you can continue fishing in a small plastic swimming pool. That’s what love is about: The new, not the repeated.
10. Love is peeling an onion, not biting an apple
The first layer is not love, it’s infatuation. Skin. Lust. Connection. Chemistry. Butterflies. All the possibilities of what something could be. Love doesn’t happen until layers are peeled, until you see all sides of someone and accept them, embrace them, and choose to love them. We’re all looking for the thing in the bottle, the “you just know” feeling. But feelings alone don’t build healthy, lasting, meaningful relationships. We have powerful connections with certain people, and that’s great. That means something. But there needs to be more, and more is discovered, not found. Love is about going through our layers together by experiencing the whole person, not just parts.
A huge part of what makes up your life is love. And when you find love it’ll give you life.
So whether you are gloriously, serenely single, disheartened after a nuclear heartbreak, wedged ungraciously in the friend zone, managing a flock of completely inappropriate Tinder suitors, or profoundly in love and primed for a Major Commitment, it doesn’t matter. Let whatever stage you are at empower you girlfriend!