As a tribute to my 3 year relationship with my best friend, I wanted to write this post.
I want to say that our relationship is harder than normal because of who we are, but I am so happy that we are still in this journey than began in high school. Being each other’s firsts, it was a huge learning curve for both of us. Over the years, many wonderful friends in our lives have helped us through tough times and given us golden advice as well as their hope in us. It gives me joy and hope when I see others’ relationships grow as well, so here are my thoughts.
1. Know that it is HARD WORK
One of the most important things in a relationship, especially in a long-distance one like mine, is to make the effort. A relationship isn’t just about feelings and going on cute dates and the physical stuff, but actively getting to know one another and supporting each other when it’s hard. It is about being extra kind when he had a bad day, and remembering what he likes and dislikes. In a long-d relationship, it is important to make the time you spend together count and treat it as a precious thing. Love is not about receiving good feelings from the other person, it is giving yourself to the other person and treating them how they would like to be treated.
2. Discover your love languages
As my relationship grew past our honeymoon phase, I learned that I was so different from my boyfriend. We like completely different things, have really different personalities, and in general, see the world totally differently. This led to many arguments about how our relationship should function, arguments about the things we disagree on, and built-up resentment from one person controlling the other because one of us wanted to do something our way.
However, it is okay to be different – being different once stirred up doubt in me whether it’s going to work out, but as it turns out, it has its good. My bf and I complement each other in the ways that we lack – I tend to hate logistical things and get emotional easily, so his rational mind helps me. He tends to be blunt to people at times so being with me (a sensitive person) forces him to be more sensitive. The point of this is to celebrate your differences and realize that you have to love the other person in the way they would want to be loved, not how you think you should love someone.
3. Don’t make it a competition
To all the competitive girls out there, this is for you. As one of these girls, I tend to always compare in my mind who did more for the other person; who is having a better time with their own friends, who is doing better in school and in life, and the list could go on. A couple should support each other and be the first person to congratulate the other when something good happens in their lives. Practice being genuinely happy for your partner’s achievements, and it will make you happy too. After all, you are not competitors, but a team, as my boyfriend reminds me.
4. Know the value of Trust
Trust must be built in a relationship. When we went to university, it was so difficult to trust my boyfriend to not make mistakes that will hurt me. Having to trust that he, an attractive and outgoing guy, will stay loyal while being around so many girls and having many female friends dragged me down for a long time. I am still struggling with it. But I had to let him go, well, let myself go actually, so I could move on with my own life. Yes, there is a chance that he will hurt me one day if he hasn’t yet, but why be unhappy dwelling on that? My boyfriend kept telling me that he was loyal and I should trust him, and it took a long time for me to realize that he is true to his word. If the relationship is truly a committed one and there are friends around you two who keep you accountable, you will be okay. I have learned to trust his friends instead of being wary of them, and that is truly liberating.
5. Speak your mind and Speak the truth
He is your best friend, right? If not, he should be. This person should be here for you unconditionally and here to say the right thing, not words that just make you feel good about yourself. You should feel free to tell him everything and not be scared that he will judge you. Likewise, you should tell him the cold hard truth when he needs to hear it because it will grow your relationship, not hurt it. However, negativity is insidious and over time, hearing about it drains the other person as I have learned. Being a naturally pessimistic person, this attitude directly affected not only my boyfriend – but my best friends as well, so I am making a conscious effort to change.
6. Be Grateful, not Contemptuous
I read some article on Business Insider one day about a study done on married couples – on the one biggest thing that destroys relationships. It was Contempt (read it here). We almost broke up over this. Contempt is seeing your partner as less than yourself – when you start to think that you could be better off on your own, that this person isn’t worthy for you, and all these other negative things, it builds up and it might break your relationship like it did mine.
Honestly though, there will always be someone out there who is better, but the one you’re with loves you for your own flaws too. We learned that working it out makes us happier in the end.
The more I began to actively think about the things I am grateful for in my boyfriend, the more happy I was with him.
7. Be careful who you talk to
Do not air your dirty laundry to everybody. It will hurt your relationship. Only talk to a small amount of people who will give solid advice and wants the best for BOTH of you. Maintaining each other’s reputation is so important and if you can resolve issues on your own, always try to. Your friends don’t always need to know if you’re fighting. I have learned to be careful and I am guilty of talking to people I don’t know very well about my issues with my boyfriend and it backfired on us.
8. Stay Committed
Quitting is not the answer. I used to immaturely pull out the ‘Breakup Card’ when our arguments got so out of hand – thinking at the time that there was no way to resolve them, but there is always. Forgiveness, Understanding, Compromise, and letting go of your Ego are always on the table and it is up to you to take them. Remember that you have come so far already and it is always worth giving it another chance. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. If the broken relationship is truly irrevocable, you will know for sure.