We all seek relationship advice at one point or another. Whether we are entering a new relationship or trying to salvage an old one, it’s a safe bet that we basically have no idea what we’re doing. Love is not something that is planned, so most of the time, we just have to go along with it and figure things out for ourselves. Every relationship is different, and every problem calls for a different solution. That being said, there are a bunch of relationship truths that are universal.
1. Relationships aren’t simple.
They take work, time, and effort. They involve a heavy amount of compromise. You need to be like a doctor and have patience.
That was a joke. You also need to have a sense of humor.
2. There is no use “fixing” what isn’t broken.
Just because something isn’t simple doesn’t mean it’s not good. In order to succeed in life and in the business world, you must work hard and persevere. You aren’t going to quit your job just because you actually need to try. Similarly, you shouldn’t quit on a relationship just because it’s not all flowers and rainbows.
Also, there is nothing wrong with being content. Allow yourself to be happy and don’t be afraid of being comfortable. If there isn’t a problem with the relationship, then don’t go looking for problems.
3. You have to love yourself before you can love another person.
How can you expect to genuinely love another person’s qualities if you have trouble accepting your own? Once you are confident in yourself, others will notice you more. When you accept yourself for who you are, you will be able to fully appreciate and understand the best qualities of other people.
4. You can’t love somebody if you like nobody.
Keep an open mind when meeting new people. Don’t shut everybody out right away. The world has so much to offer, and you’ll never experience any of it if you refuse to venture outside of your comfort zone. Feeling uncomfortable is good sometimes. Like love, people will surprise you.
5. There needs to be a balance of intimacy and space.
Show interest in your significant other’s hobbies and work, but don’t intrude. Also, invite him/her into your own world. Spend time together, but don’t make it seem like you always need to be together in order to be happy. Share information about yourself that you wouldn’t normally share: your stories, your aspirations, your fears. Make yourself vulnerable. Encourage your partner to do the same. Listen.
Support your significant other and give honest feedback. Let your partner know that you might not be there during the climb but that you’ll be right behind, ready to catch him/her if he/she falls.
6. Communication is paramount.
Be on the same page as your partner, or at least be on the same chapter. I was in a relationship in which my girlfriend and I were in completely different books. As corny as it sounds, honesty actually is the best policy. Be honest with yourself and be honest with your partner.
7. Arguing is healthy.
You and your partner are not going to agree about everything, and that’s perfectly normal. The essence of healthy arguing is that you both know how to discuss these topics and understand each other’s opinions. Be mature and admit when you’re wrong, and accept the fact that not everybody shares your opinions.
8. People change.
This is something you cannot control. It is important to accept these types of things and worry instead about what you can control, which is the progress you make.
9. Relationships are not projects.
People might change, but you shouldn’t go into a relationship wanting to change somebody. It never works out the way you plan, and it means that you don’t truly love your partner for who he/she is.
10. Once a cheater, always a cheater.
If he cheated on his ex-girlfriend with you, what makes you think he won’t cheat on you with somebody else? Sure, people change, but morals don’t just appear out of thin air. When you embark on a relationship with somebody, you should have an idea of what you are getting yourself into.
11. You shouldn’t “stay friends.”
This is a mistake many couples make when a relationship ends. Everybody knows what it means: one person doesn’t want to cut the other out of his/her life completely, and the other person is thinking: “Awesome. We’ll be friendly for a while and then be back together within a month.” This is usually a bad idea for everyone, and it often leads to hatred. A way to avoid this is communication.
12. Hate leaves bruises, but love leaves scars.
Feelings of hatred and scorn are usually temporary. However, the damage that love can do to a person is often much more permanent. Lost love becomes a part of us; a mark we wear every day that reminds us of our past and all of the lessons we have learned. On the flip side, that “damage” can be a positive type of permanent. My parents have been in a loving marriage for over thirty years, and they certainly have the scars to prove it.
13. Relationships are like shoes.
Some look stylish on the outside, but only the person wearing them knows the pain they bear inside. Walking in a new pair is like being with a new person—unfamiliar at first, but as you break them in, you develop a sense of security. You reach that comfort zone in which you rarely need to untie the laces.
Some shoes, you outgrow. Some get worn out. Some cause you pain or leave you exposed. Some shoes you wear anywhere. Some shoes get dirty, and when you wear them, you can’t forget where they’ve been. Some shoes you hesitate to throw away. Some people wear shoes until they’re soulless.
Learn from these relationship truths
Of course, we all wish there was just one simple truth about relationships. Well, there isn’t one. Every relationship we participate in will teach us something new about ourselves, as well as other people. It is this experience that will ultimately lead us in the right direction—hopefully to someone who understands, accepts, and supports us.