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.