Any kind of relationship is hard, there’s no denying that. But when it comes to romantic relationships and the bond they form, it’s a completely different ballpark. They can often leave you feeling dejected and regularly questioning what it is that you want from life. On the flip side, they can also offer an exhilarating and fulfilling experience that no other kind of relationship can match. Having had the privilege of experiencing a 7-year-long relationship, there are a few lessons I learned about what romantic love actually entails.
Communication is a Non-Negotiable
A hard lesson I learned throughout my relationship was that communication is key. Yes, you hear that often, but most people assume they are already communicating the right way. I was snapped out of that delusion when I started going to therapy and learnt more effective tools for facilitating open and honest communication that doesn’t just result in frustration and tears.
It can be easy to avoid having hard conversations because you don’t want to upset the other person, however, realistically, you are doing them and yourself a disservice by not expressing your feelings. You are holding in whatever is making you upset and are also undermining your partners’ ability to handle whatever it is you have to say. I promise, both you and them are stronger than you think. Talk it out.
You Won’t Always Agree, Sometimes Even on Big Things
Disagreements are healthy and expected, whether you’re entering a new romantic relationship or have been in one for a few years. However, it shouldn’t always be expected that you’ll both get over the disagreements. Sometimes these disagreements last for days, months, years, and can even lead you to live a different life than the one you expected to be living. This is important to keep in mind because it’s easy to fall into the habit of letting things slide or expecting them to just blow over. Whether you try hard to avoid them, disagreements will always happen so it’s best to be prepared and to confront them when the time comes.
You Might Always Love Each Other, But You Might Not Always Like Each Other
The movies will tell you that being in love creates the strongest, most unbreakable bond between people. It took me a few years (and a lot of reflection on the ideologies that formed my views on relationships) to realize that loving someone doesn’t always mean you like them. There will be times where that other person gets on your nerves more than you can handle. There will be times where that person says hurtful things, whether they realize it or not. And there will be times where you simply need some space from them and their energy, despite how much you love them.
Love is not the healer of all wounds and that’s okay. Antiquated ideologies or exaggerated movie plots might posit the notion that love conquers all differences, even toxicity that resides between a couple, but that isn’t a healthy or realistic way to approach romantic love. While it is powerful in its ability to make you feel so incredibly connected to someone, that level of connection also creates room for unmet expectations and disappointment. Once I realized that and was able to accept it—not as a downfall, but as another level of that kind of intimacy—it relieved some of the burdens of what I was always taught to believe about romantic love.
It isn’t perfect because people aren’t perfect and there will be moments when it makes you question why you ever trusted 90s rom-coms.