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21 Love Milestones Everyone Needs To Achieve In Life

21 Love Milestones Everyone Needs To Achieve In Life

What is love anyway? That agonizing, exhilarating, fought for, died for, stolen for, begged for, dreamed of and hoped for condition, like no other in the world. We all simply must have it, it’s the most magical and craved aspect of the human experience: to love and be loved.

Yet we can’t see love, can’t hear it, or touch it. You sense it in a place inside of you that you can’t explain, an intuitive knowing of the heart. You embark on the journey of love from the moment you are born. Because you are driven to. Because love is the meaning of life itself. And many milestones accompany this journey of discovering, having and losing love.

Here are 21 love milestones you don’t want to miss. They don’t necessarily happen in any particular chronological order, but you will experience them at some point. Which milestone are you on? Which ones haven’t you been through? And which ones do you look forward to?

1. You hear about this crazy little thing called love.

Can you even remember that far back? There was a moment in time—in your life—when you saw, heard about, or read about this thing called ‘love.’ Maybe it involved giggles on the playground, a flashlight under your covers as a young child buried in a book, or seeing two lovers kissing on the street.

2. You realize with certainty that a parent loves you.

There is a moment you can pick, if you think back, that you can look at and say, “Yep, my Mom loves me,” or, “My Dad loves me even though he may not have said ‘I love you’ since I was past the age of 10, or so.” Maybe it was a smile of pride in your direction. Through their own ‘stuff’, you can pick a moment as your parental milestone of love: a symbol of their love for you.

3. You discover books about love.

Suddenly you’re part of the book you’re reading, swept into the story of two people falling in love. It happened to me at a young age, reading L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Of Green Gables. Maybe for you it’s identifying with Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics, or Cinderella. There’s a first time you read about love.

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4. You’re transfixed by a love story in a movie.

This milestone is when you have your own moment in a movie that transfers love from the screen right to your heart. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned classic, where Bogart says goodbye to Bergman—forever. Or maybe it’s the Disney movie that gets you, that makes you want to shake it all up and make your love better.

For my six-year-old, infatuated with cars, all he could talk about after seeing Disney’s Cars movie was not the cars, but how the plane fell in love with the race car, and they kissed. He was hooked! On love, that is.

5. Your friend falls in love.

You watch your friend’s love unfold before your eyes, hearing every detail (more than once). Maybe it makes you believe in love again, or reinforces the love you have. Perhaps it stirs up the realization that there’s something they have that you want. So badly. And it may even change your friendship.

6. You see how someone loves you in black and white.

Before email, we had letters. Remember? Those things where you take a pen and write out what you want to say on a piece of stationery and put it into an envelope? Okay, we’ll allow a love email, or a love message that you print out and can save forever.

7. You did it. You fell in love for the first time.

Hit by a ton of bricks. Yup, it’s happened to you. You fell in love. Oh, so this is what all the talk is about. Knowing that, yes, you can find love, and yes, you have found love. Wow! The first time you knew you were in love is your first love ever, whether it’s the one you end up with or not. I mean, it’s your First Love! Who was your first love? Don’t have one yet? Don’t despair! This is a milestone worth dreaming about and fighting for.

8. You hold hands for the first time with someone you love.

The electricity of touch. The first time you hold hands with a beloved gets etched in your memory. Where were you when you touched for the first time, or had her arm around your waist, his hand around your shoulder?

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9. Your first kiss ever in this lifetime.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G! Where was your first kiss? Who started it? Did you bump noses? How was it? Did you tell your friends? Are you still waiting for it?

10. You hear “I love you” for the first time.

This milestone is hearing those three little words for the very first time from a romantic partner: “I love you.” You feel included, welcomed, like you’ve been initiated into the tribe of the lovers. You come alive in a way you never have before.

11. You realize there is love for you outside of romantic love.

Do you allow the universe to love you? Did you fall in love with the moon? The stars are winking at you, if only you’ll look up. Take the time, if you haven’t already, to acknowledge this love, and allow the sun to keep you warm and shine its light upon you. We often don’t realize that this is a milestone in love, to stop and realize that, yes, the world loves you!

12. You consider doing scary things in the name of love.

Here’s a scary love milestone. Have you ever wanted to stalk someone, or follow their every move because you love them? Well, of course, not the illegal kind of stalking, rather the girlfriend kind. You know, getting on the phone and calling whoever knows them and asking when and where they saw them and with whom. Or Googling his or her name, or wanting to drive by their house or work to see if you can catch a glimpse?

Has someone made you feel so passionate about them that you lie awake wondering how to find out more about them?

13. You are completely and utterly depressed over love.

You realize—shocked—that love is not everything you hoped and dreamed it would be. You shut the curtains and ignore your phone. Maybe it’s the relationship you’re in that’s let you down, or you’re not finding the love you want. You mourn, darkness descends. That is, until the sun peeks through the slot in the window dressing, and you’re driven to seek out love again.

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14. You find forgiveness in your heart for someone you love.

Your romantic partner messes up, big time, and you know they don’t deserve your loving, yet you find a way to move on and love them anyway. This is the milestone of unconditional forgiveness in love. Maybe you don’t find forgiveness; or you can’t yet. Then you contemplate forgiveness.

15. You really, really, really love yourself and say so out loud.

Did you ever stop to think about loving yourself? Go ahead, grab your phone, smile, take a selfie. How much do you really love yourself? Stop in the mirror and look into your eyes and say, “I love you,” to yourself for the first time. Then do it again and again.

16. You slam the door shut on love forever (then you open it again).

You doubt love exists, and you close the door. You see lovers in the street, and stake your claim in the disbelief of love, well, not for you anyway. The country songs are right. You realize that love does not really exist and you don’t think you will ever have it, or ever have it again. You’re OK with that. Then you start listening to the country songs backwards…

17. You receive your first gift from someone you love.

Whether it’s the first gift you get from someone you love, or the first gift you give to someone you love. Whatever it is, it’s priceless.

18. You are rejected in love and feel like you died.

It’s the R word. Rejection. Someone doesn’t love you the way you love them and says, “No.” No to your love. This arrow lands in the center of your heart and you sit and bleed, trying to stop the pain with something else, like ice cream, or hours on the phone with a friend trying to make sense of it.

This is truly a mini death. You get through it and move on, and have your first love scar that (supposedly) makes you stronger.

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19. You have your heart broken.

Your heart is completely and utterly broken by someone you love. Like Humpty Dumpty kind of broken, where all the kings horses can’t even help. Shattered love all over the floor. Someone said or did something unexpected. This is one milestone you don’t need to achieve in life, yet somehow most of us do. This is like a rite of passage. You go through your first heartbreak: it grows you up.

20. You find love in a group.

The world can be lonely at times, and knowing the feeling of being part of a group of some sort can be full of love. Be it a support group, lunch club, business network or clique at the bar or bowling alley. To know that a group has your back and loves you, and you love them, is an experience so different from love with one person. It’s a wonderful love milestone to have gone through a tough time and felt the group’s love holding you up.

21. You are promised eternal love.

Some day, somewhere, someone promises to love you forever.

Have you found the love that you dream will last forever? Maybe you’re far away from that dream. Remember this: there are always steps to finding any treasure, and love is no different.

Time spent in each love milestone, even if it’s dark and hopeless, brings maturity and growth. Whatever milestone you’re on, cherish it and know the next one is waiting to capture your heart.

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Esther Litchfield-Fink

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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