I started dating in middle school. His name was James, he had skater hair with bright blue eyes, and he called me a cupcake.
It was an epic love story.
Fast forward to high school and college, I dated here and there but nothing too serious. Not because I didn’t want to get serious, mostly it was because I was raised to believe that dating should lead to marriage, and the men that were swooping into my life were definitely not marriage material.
However, I met my current partner a little over two years ago, and the first time we hung out together alone, he told me that he believed dating should lead to marriage, and that’s why he never really dated before. I was sold, and we’ve been together ever since.
We’ve had quite a bit of ups and downs. Doesn’t everyone? Still, throughout it all, we’ve stayed together and have grown in ways I would have never thought possible.
I’ve realized that while relationship advice is abundant and you can get it from essentially anyone, there are 3 particular things that I wish I knew about earlier that would have helped me, but hopefully, they can now help you instead.
Compromise Does Not Mean Sacrifice.
Writer Anjali Sareen Nowakowski for Elite Daily puts it perfectly,
Compromise is mutual, while sacrifice is disproportionate. Compromise inspires a visual image of two people, coming from two different perspectives, and finding a mutual solution to a problem.
When you compromise in a relationship, it usually means that both of you have come to a problem that you’re not entirely sure how to deal with, but you know the best way to resolve it is by both of you making some adjustments to your behavior as well as desires to keep your relationship healthy and happy.
Meanwhile, sacrifice is one-sided. It usually means that one of you is doing the heavy lifting and giving something up for the other over and over again.
Compromises are healthy in a relationship; they allow you to stay focused on problem-solving together in an effective manner rather than fighting with one another.
For example, I used to date a guy that I was always making sacrifices for. Instead of spending time with my friends or having fun, I would always cater to his needs because I knew he didn’t like it when I’d spend time with anyone but him. I sacrificed my relationship with my best friend constantly, flaking on lunch dates, or leaving early because he would ask.
Instead of traveling during the holiday season with my family, I would stay behind to spend time with him. At the time, I thought it was love, I thought I was doing the right thing for the person who claimed he cared about me, but at the end of the day, it was a plate full of manipulation with a huge side of sacrifice on my end.
If you’re constantly making sacrifices in your relationship without your partner doing anything, it’s a recipe for disaster. A relationship based on one person’s sacrifice won’t continue to work over time. A relationship based on healthy compromises, however, will.
Work on You With YOU.
I took a hiatus from dating in 2018; I was fed up with boys thinking they were men when in reality, they still lived under their parents’ roof and had their moms making them breakfast.
Hello, can I get an adult in here, please?
During that little hiatus, I invested a lot of time into myself. I was working three jobs, applying for colleges, and planning to move to Los Angeles from Seattle. Surprisingly enough, I was happier during that time than I ever was when in a relationship.
When you start living for yourself, and working on yourself, and figuring out the relationship you have with yourself, you start to peak. You blossom and flourish into the person you were meant to be the entire time.
And, little by little, you begin to see and understand not just what you want, but what you deserve.
The guys before — they didn’t deserve me. I deserved 10x better, and I was determined to have that when the time was right. I allowed the universe to do its thing. I wasn’t going out, and I wasn’t exactly putting myself on the radar either, but something inside of me told me that the universe would give me exactly what I wanted and what I deserved, just not according to my timetable.
Writer Dina Marais from Thrive Global says,
You have relationships with everything in life, and the quality of every relationship is determined by the quality of the relationship you have with yourself.
Take some time to focus on yourself. Have you ever really been alone for an extended period of time? Or have you always had someone blowing up your phone and calling you at 2 am because they’re “lonely”.
Do this for yourself, do this for the future you that will thrive and be significantly happier if you learn to understand and develop the relationship you have with yourself first.
Be With Someone Who Challenges You.
Have you ever been with someone who just coasts through life?
They have little to no ambition; they go with everything other people say, they never state their opinion, hell as far as you’re concerned, they don’t even have an opinion. Their interest in life and anything else is so minuscule it influences you…and not for the better.
I used to imagine my dream guy having the same taste as me in everything. We would read the same books and like the same food and watch the same movies, and everything would be picture perfect. I didn’t give a damn about politics, and neither would he; I don’t care for sports, and he would scoff at them too.
But if that’s the case, you’re never going to grow. Having different interests and different perspectives enhances your relationship. You’ll always have something new, exciting, and different to learn about one another.
For example, my partner is the complete opposite of me. He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, and I like to think of myself as brooding and mysterious, but mostly I’m just bitter and closed off at times. I’m working on it.
He loves politics. He isn’t necessarily involved in them, but he likes to educate himself on what’s going on in the world. Me? I couldn’t be bothered. However, him educating himself about it influences me in a positive way, I know more about what’s going on and I can actually carry a political conversation now.
You might come together because of your similar beliefs and morals, but you stay together because you complement each other and challenge one another to share new experiences, push personal boundaries, and grow together.
That’s what will keep your spark burning and keep your relationship strong.
These are just 3 pieces of relationship advice I wish someone had told me back when I was a kid, perhaps it would have saved me some heartache.
At the end of the day, everything is a lesson learned and all you can do is continue learning and growing.
To sum it up, remember that compromise does not mean sacrifice. If you’re constantly making sacrifices in your relationship without your partner doing anything, it’s a recipe for disaster. A relationship based on one person’s sacrifice won’t continue to work over time. A relationship based on healthy compromises will.
Take some time to work on you for you. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one of all. You need to learn to understand yourself before you try to bring another person into your life.
Lastly, be with someone who challenges you. Someone who makes you feel empowered, someone who questions your thinking and makes you dig deep. Be with someone who helps you grow and push all of the limitations you’ve ever set for yourself.