There are a million different memes, sayings, theories on when to fight for love, when to let a relationship go, what kind of connections are worth sticking out and what kind of behavior is unforgivable. But the truth is, there is no proven guide book on how to be in a successful relationship. In fact, there is not even one definition of what this success looks like. With my mind opening more and more to the idea of settling down with one person, I wonder what that will look like for myself.
Each one of us speaks a different love language. There are endless combinations of people and actions that can lead to a successful relationship. All sorts of communication styles that maintain healthy problem solving. Love stories of romance and love stories of patience. Love at first sight and love waited for. Some stumble upon the right timing, others with long lost love that took growth and life changes to reconnect and reestablish.
It’s hard these days with everyone on social media thinking they’re certified therapists. Statements like, “once a cheater, always a cheater” or “if he isn’t responding, he doesn’t care” are not facts, but observations from specific circumstances. While I believe all of our trials, tribulations, challenges and successes in life can help others when shared, I think it’s important to be cautious with how we absorb other people’s stories and opinions. Our own stories are what we make them.
The only fact about love is that there are a million and one lessons to be learned from it. How vital having healthy relationships is to having a fulfilling life. Learning how to pay attention to other’s needs as well as our own. Exposing ourselves to new experiences, new cultures and new ideas of love opens up the possibility for more. Expecting love to be easy is an unfair mindset to embark with. Fitting our opinions of successful love into someone else’s recipe can drown out the sweetness with a bitter, unwanted flavor.
My views on relationships, dating and love are always adapting. As some pieces in my life grow and reshape, I must make sure the rest of my pieces are too. Fitting what works for me in my life means recognizing the types of pieces that add to my puzzle, unforced but connected. Understanding my puzzle doesn’t look the same as anyone else’s. Reflecting not as a third-party but as the guest of honor. I don’t see relationship goals as guidelines, but as motivation to imagine what those may look like for myself. Just as beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, love can look like anything. Trust your own judgement when deciphering what may be toxic or when patience is required. Trust your gut and use both your head and your heart. Don’t hide from your own truths. While relationships take continuous work, I believe they are a choice that should bring more joy than despair.
“I’m just bored.” “They love me so much and I want them in my life.” “Things aren’t working out at the moment.” None of this validates your actions. If you’re bored, seeking flirtatious entertainment from outside your relationship, you should not be in a committed relationship. You are weak and manipulative for betraying someone who loves you because you’re too afraid to let them go. If things aren’t working out at the moment, work them out. There is never an excuse to cheat, emotionally or physically. If you feel like you’re hiding something from your partner, if you know in your gut what you’re doing isn’t right, stop doing it. Ask yourself why that person isn’t enough for you. The answer may be it’s not the right person. The answer could also be you’re not interested in a fully committed relationship. Adjust accordingly. Losing someone you care about is painful, but keeping them in your life by your standards and disregarding theirs is selfish.
If you’re scared of coming clean, of being unforgivable, own that. Own your mistakes and grow. They don’t really love you if they don’t know this part of you. You also deserve to be fully loved. Love yourself first. Understand who you are and what you have to give. Be proud of your morals, the way you treat others. Find someone you have nothing to hide from. Someone who brings out the best in you. Work through the parts of you that you keep secret, they don’t need to stay with you forever.
Heartbreak hurts. Coming clean probably feels dreadful. Possibly losing someone you love, definitely hurting them at the least. But you’d be doing it for the right reasons. You will get to move forward and allow better, more real connections to develop. They will get a chance to make a fair decision for themselves, knowing all the facts.
One day you’ll find someone who makes all the temptations fade away. Someone who satisfies all your cravings. Someone you know deserves the world and you’ll feel honored you are the one they choose to share it with. Your wandering eye will zone in and loving just one person will feel natural. The idea of someone doing to them what you’re doing to your partner now will anger and upset you. You will look at your past self and understand why you weren’t ready. But you will be grateful for your growth because now, you are.
Life isn’t about navigating through your journey to please yourself at all costs. Life is about thinking and caring about others to connect and enjoy together. Causing as little damage as possible. Stopping when you make mistakes to do what you can to heal them. If you don’t think they’re hurting because they‘re in the dark about what’s going on, wouldn’t they be better off with someone who simply didn’t need to go outside the relationship? Someone who truly devotes to them when they say they are committed. Are you too selfish to allow them to move on while you move around but keep them leashed? I know you have love for them, but let them go. Temporary pain to heal from is less damaging than an unfair and dishonest connection. They deserve better and you deserve to be good. To be honest. To be loyal, one day, when it feels right. Temptations will always exist, but look out for the one that makes you look over them.