Finding Matt and falling in love has been the single most amazing thing that has happened in my 29 year-old life thus far. Having this relationship as the foundation for everything else to happen in my day to day life, has made me stronger. Every feat, challenge, or disappointment doesn’t seem so bad with the love and support that Matt gives me unconditionally. In the 8 and a half years that we’ve been together, would you believe that we’ve never gotten in a fight? It’s hard for me to believe sometimes too. Of course, I’ve had my moments where I am completely annoyed with something that he does, and I feel upset or resentful towards him, but when that happens we talk about it. We’ve never both been upset with the other at the same time. We’ve never shouted at one another, and I’ve never felt like I needed a break from him (besides the night before he proposed, but I blame his annoying behavior that night on the stress he was experiencing in anticipation of the proposal). Kahlil Gibran described love as a “quenchless thirst” and that’s how I feel about Matt. I can never get enough of him. He’s my best friend, my favorite person in the world. I respect him, I like him so much (as well as love him of course) and I’m so proud to be his partner in life. These are a few lessons I’ve learned about love along the way, and I hope to continue learning more as time goes on.
1. Love Begins Internally. The perfectly matched couple will F**** it up if they haven’t first addressed their own issues. Rumi said not to seek love, but rather to first address your internal barriers to love. You need to be deserve a true love before you can expect to find one. Insecurities, jealousy, personal voids will all push away the most supportive partner. You have to address your own issues and work on yourself before you can expect to nurture a relationship. This is probably why Alcoholics Anonymous suggests people don’t start relationships in the first year of sobriety. Matt was sober for 4 years before we met, and had already had that time to deal with his own issues. I had made my share of mistakes in relationships prior, and thankfully, learned from them. Of course, we weren’t perfect when we met, and I still continue to work on myself, but our major issues had been worked out for the most part.
2. The Connection Should be Easy. If you are into someone more than they are into you, if you put more effort into building/maintaining the relationship than your partner, something is probably not right. When Matt and I met, we immediately felt comfortable with one another. We were both all in, totally there. It was so much fun to be around him, and he has since told me that being with me was the most fun he’d ever had with another person too. It was easy, and felt natural to be with each other. Matt reciprocated what I gave to the relationship, and vice versa. This reciprocation is so important in order to feel secure in the relationship. I’ve been in a relationship where I felt like I gave more than I got, and I was constantly finding unhealthy ways to try and get my needs met. It was not a good situation, and it made for a tumultuous relationship. Gosh! I believe that you should end up with someone who is crazy about you. If you find yourself really wanting to begin or deepen a relationship, and the other person is ho humming it, they probably aren’t your soulmate.
3. Supportive Relationships Should Support Your Romantic Relationship. Those who truly love you and support you should support your falling in love. If those you care about don’t like your significant other, this is a red flag. It could mean that they see something you don’t and that your significant other may not be healthy for you. Of course, it could also mean that these people aren’t actually healthy and supportive, and that they feel possessive over you or somehow feel better about their own lives when you are unhappy. Either way, if those close to you aren’t supportive of your relationship, you should try to take a step back and evaluate what’s really going on.
4. Don’t Let Resentments Build. This is a lesson that my mother taught me. If something bothers you, talk about it. It’s probably best to talk about it when you aren’t heated so that you can have a calm and effective conversation. If you don’t talk about it, nothing will get better so squash whatever it is that’s hindering your relationship.
5. You Are Partners. It’s best to look at yourselves as partners working together to make your relationship better. If you have an argument, try to work together to solve the issue. Your mutual goal should be to better the relationship. In arguments, it’s easy to get caught up in defending yourself, or trying to be “right”. All this does is drive a larger wedge between you. Your enemy is the problem, not each other. Every argument is an opportunity for communication.
6. Connection is Key. In a long relationship, you must connect and reconnect over and over in order to keep your love alive. This requires that you spend quality time with each other. Going for a hike, or getting out in nature where there aren’t any distractions is always a good way to reconnect. If you find yourself not looking forward to spending time with the other person, this is a red flag. I can’t get enough of Matt, and this feeling is so important to me that making time for each other is literally my top priority. Time with each other has to be non-negotiable.
7. Love is Not Conditional. I love Matt for who he is. I don’t want to change him or make him different and he feels the same about me. If you find yourself wanting to change the person you “love” perhaps you simply love your idea of who that person is and not the actual person. Same goes for your partner. If you feel like you’re never good enough for your partner, or that they want to you change your appearance/behaviors/opinions ask yourself if they truly love you or just their idea of you.
8. Your Match Should Bring Out The Best In You. Love is like chemistry and I’ve been in relationships where the other person brought out my worst qualities; qualities like insecurity, jealousy, game-playing and anger. Matt brings out the best in me. Enough said. I love who I am when I am with him, and this feels really good. In relationships we always talk about how we should feel about the other person, but we should also love ourselves in the relationship. If your relationship makes you feel weak, powerless, unattractive, unworthy, something’s not right. There may be nothing wrong with either of you, it could just be the chemistry of the two personalities together.
9. Love Should Feel Rejuvenating. You should feel nourished by your relationship, uplifted, strengthened, supported, renewed. If you don’t feel like your relationship gives back to you, something is wrong. Maybe your personal stuff is getting in the way. See point 1.
10. Love Should Be Easy. If the previous 9 points are all in check, your relationship should be easy. Life might not be easy, but the connection you have with one another should be. Your commitment should be solid. Each one of you should know where you stand with the other. Like I said, Matt and I get along so well. We love each other. We like each other. We feel like we can never get enough of each other. I’ve always known how he felt about me and he’s always known how I felt about him. I don’t think there was ever a doubt that we would spend the rest of our lives together, and this relationship has always been easy. Of course, we’ve both had doubts about life, about our futures, insecurities, stressors and hardships, but there have never been doubts about our relationship. Real love is the greatest part of life. Nourish it, care for it, appreciate it, and it will reward you back.