love lessons.

Sam and I are coming up on our two year anniversary in just a couple of months. This seems impossible to me for a couple of reasons: one, I never thought I’d make it in a relationship more than one year and two, it seems ridiculous that he’s only been in my life for two years. It seems like it’s been much longer and I mean that in a good way.

In these last two years I’ve learned a lot about love and relationships. It’s safe to say that my dating life prior to Sam was a mess. It was more bumps in the road than smooth sailing and even my long-term boyfriends were not healthy situations now that I look back on them. I had to recognize what true respect, trust, love were – something that I hadn’t ever truly attempted to do.

I am by no means a relationship guru. Sometimes I have people ask me advice on how Sam and I stay happy, how we knew it would work, how we continue to develop and grow especially in the face of adversity and it takes everything in me not to laugh in their face. I don’t really know how we do it sometimes, but we do. What I do know is that I’ve learned a lot and I will attempt to share those lessons with you.

1. Love is not easy.

I know, I know – you’ve heard this so many times before. I had heard it countless times before but still didn’t quite believe it. The people I knew who were happy together, still in love after years, seemed to have it made. They just got it. It didn’t seem like a lot of work to me, it just seemed like simple, honest love. I suppose that is part of it, simple honest love, but there is so much work that happens on top of that. You have a foundation of strength that gets built on and sometimes the first few walls are a little shaky. A lot of our foundation comes from the fact that we found a fellow weirdo, someone who recognizes and accepts what others might see as faults, and a mutual understanding of the world that many other people don’t share. But sometimes those faults or weird quirks can interrupt the great moments. Sometimes (a lot of the time) you have to be talking, communicating, reaching out to the other person to ensure you really understand each other. This is actually a lot of fun but it is also a lot of work. A relationship is the first baby you have together, needy and demanding and requiring more attention than you thought, but when it starts to grow and become its own entity, you realize it was all worth it.

2. If you are going to choose one thing to have, make it trust.

I started this relationship as the least trusting person in the world. I was basically the worst. Earlier relationships had ended in fiery balls of distrust after infidelity of every sort. I carried with me the memories of being told a boyfriend had slept with someone else, the discovery of sexual messages to other girls, and being straight up lied to constantly. I carried them with me and dropped them right off at Sam’s feet and was like, “Deal with this.” And then Sam was like, “No, thank you.” The best thing Sam ever did for me was not give in to my unfounded distrust at everything. He never gave me reason to actually believe he would cheat on me and so far all of my attempts to drum up proof have continued to show that he is the most honest person on the planet. He taught me how to trust someone without needing access to every social media account or electronic device they own. He taught me that, sometimes, people are being honest when they say, “I would never do that to you.” And now I know how detrimental my lack of trust was to us and, ultimately, to myself. If you need anything, above all else, you need to trust the person you’re with.

3. Love starts with yourself.

Our relationship has always been great. We’ve managed through arguments and some really tough moments. We talk, laugh, dance, and share. It’s been like that since the beginning. It’s always been fairly simple between us (but not always easy!). Despite this ease and understanding between us, our relationship started to get really good when I started to respect myself. When I started to take care of my body, my mental health, and my general well-being, things began to open up like I never could imagine. When Sam started to take care of himself a little more, the same thing happened. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Not just with Sam, but with everything. This happiness bleeds back into our relationship, though, and makes things so much smoother. As soon as I chose to love myself, I was able to love Sam so much better. If you can’t look at yourself and see what the other person sees, you’ll never feel comfortable, so do yourself (and your partner) a favour and find the good inside of you.

Two years is nothing in comparison to some of the other relationships out there. It’s amazing how much can change in two years, though, with your life, yourself, and your relationship, and it’s no surprise how many couples break up after a few years. I know we will learn so much more as time goes on, about ourselves and about love, and it will be how we react to new situations that will decide how we proceed as a couple. But I know, at the end of it all, that as long as we keep learning, growing, and communicating to each other, and ultimately have respect for each other, we will be okay.

And that’s the best lesson I have ever learned.

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