Love is like a never ending story with unpredictable plot twists sprinkled throughout. That might sound dramatic (guilty as charged) but it’s how I look at my past relationships. Let me be clear: I’m not perfect. I was a guilty party in some of the situations that inspired the lessons below. So save yourself some trouble by realizing the following 10 lessons.
1. Life happens.
Don’t desperately search for meaning where there is none. Most relationships don’t end because one partner did something “wrong.” More often, their life paths split in opposite directions. One half gets a promotion that requires traveling to a big city. The other prefers a small town life. One half gets accepted to an out-of-state college.The other attends a local university. Being compatible initially doesn’t guarantee you’ll stay that way. Know when to move on.
2. Own your quirks.
Don’t feel self-conscious about your freckles, giggle, or eye twitch. Your quirks make you unique. There is only one appropriate response to a compliment: “Thank you.” And if your partner tells you how beautiful you smile (or how handsome your mustacheis) a hundred times, he or she is probably being genuine. Don’t cause a scene. Smile and say thanks.
3. It’s not all about you.
Don’t assume your partner’s world revolves around you. What looks like a lack of interest might be nothing more than exhaustion in disguise. Emotions are drained by stressful things outside of our relationships. If your partner doesn’t want to go out, don’t jump to the conclusion that it has something to do with you. They’re probably just sleepy.
4. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader.
Don’t act like nothing is wrong when you’re clearly upset. For starters, you’re not kidding anybody, and it’s silly to hold a grudge over something that you’re not willing to confront yourself. If it turns out your mind is creating a bigger problem than actually exists, forget about it. But if something is wrong, say so.
5. Texts can and will be misinterpreted.
Don’t have a fit over an honest mistake. I’m too embarrassed to admit how many arguments with my ex were a direct result of miscommunication. Let’s just say I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t always translate well in a text format. If you find yourself typing away in a fit of anger, call a “time-out” and save the conversation for an in-person setting.
6. No one is ever 100% “right” or “wrong.”
Don’t fear disagreement. It’s a natural part of any relationship. Be willing to compromise. Thinking you’re “right” doesn’t mean you get to trample over your partner’s feelings. If you want your relationship to be successful, treat it like a democracy (not a dictatorship).
7. Love is beautiful. Obsession is unhealthy.
Don’t cling to a sinking ship. It’s nice to be intensely attracted to a person but if you find yourself enamored with a person who doesn’t return your feelings, it’s best to move on. And if you find yourself in a relationship where there is a clear imbalance in level of commitment (often reflected in things like one partner craving more physical contact or time together than the other), then you might have a problem.
8. Save big discussions for an appropriate setting.
Don’t confront your partner about a topic that will upset them at a bad time. I know this might sound strange since I told you to speak up about things that are bothering you in #4 but don’t be inappropriate about it. If your partner had a really hard day at work, be courteous enough to let them relax for a little while before confronting them about a problem. Funny personal example: one time, I received a break-up text while I was at the dentist’s office, waiting to have my teeth cleaned. My dental hygienist walked in before I even had time to react. That was one of the most awkward hours of my life .
9. Boredom is a threat (that you can easily avoid).
Don’t fall into the trap of monotony. Life can get dull in a hurry if you do the same stuff every day. If your partner is hinting about how nice it would be to go on a trip, this could be a sign that they are getting bored. And if your date nights are exact duplicates of each other, can you blame them?
10. Seeking revenge will only make a bad situation worse.
Don’t let hurt feelings inspire vindictive behavior. You’ll only regret it later. Even if you believe you were treated badly, lashing out in anger won’t make you feel any better. Find a friend to talk to. Distance yourself from the issue to calm down before responding. Forgive them if you can. Walk away if you can’t.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Tell us about a love lesson one of your past relationships taught you in the comments!
Featured photo credit: Bicycles! (Film)/Nicki Varkevisser via flickr.com