Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Today is Ben and my fourth anniversary. It’s funny; on the one hand, I almost can’t believe we didn’t just get together, because I’m still so crazy about him. On the other, it feels as though I’ve always known him, and when I didn’t, I was just waiting for him. (Not that my whole life was spent waiting for him, but a part of me was waiting.) Anyway, here are four things I’ve learned about love in these four years. I hope they help you in your journey, wherever you are.

Communication is non-negotiable.

I know, I know. It’s such a cliché: “communication is key.” But it is, it is absolutely non-negotiable. While it would be awesome to know automatically what your partner’s needs are, it’s not realistic. We’ve gotten pretty good at communicating, I think; we’ll make sure to bring things up before they become a huge thing that leads to a fight. This way, we have discussions and occasional disagreements, and not fights, whether small or knock-down, drag-out. You’re not a mindreader, and your partner isn’t either. Say what you want and need, as clearly as you can, and be sure to require the same.

Change is inevitable.

It always strikes me as amusing when someone asks me, “But how can you stay with one person for the rest of your life?” This question assumes that people are always exactly the same, that they don’t grow and change. While at their core your partner is not likely to change dramatically, their experiences and learning, with and without you, will lead them to become many different people during your lives. You’ll change, too, and that’s good! People should grow and learn and change. Hopefully, you’ll learn and grow and change together, or in ways that are complementary.

Love is work.

By “work,” I mean that it takes conscious effort. It takes effort to meet someone’s needs. Sometimes you can’t give 100%, and that’s okay. Sometimes one partner has to give a little more – 125%, while you give 75% – but, ideally, it will eventually even out. Don’t fall for the “love is 50%-50%” lie. Love requires 100% from each of you. Sometimes you or your partner gives more, but it always adds up to 200%, because there are two people giving their all.

You are complete.

You are already complete. You are a whole, wonderful person. You don’t need another human being to make you into a “complete” human being. For lack of a better example, if you’re single and murdered, your murderer is still charged for the extinguishing of the life of a whole and complete human being. Don’t consider yourself “incomplete” without another person. It’s unhealthy and dependent. You need to be your own person, so that you can fully and wholly enter into a union. Would you want to be in a relationship with half a person? Acknowledge that you are your own, complete, whole person, and you can more fully love someone else.

Of course, I’ve learned more than this in four years. But, I believe these are the four most important things I’ve learned these four years. I hope they’re helpful, or enlightening, or validating.

Happy anniversary, love.

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Valentine’s Day Approaches

Valentine’s Day Approaches

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. It’s also an anniversary for Ben and me: the anniversary of our first kiss. (I know, I know, cue retching noises. The day and the event were not intentionally synced.) Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019, will be Ben and my four-year anniversary. Four years! We met when we were teenagers and got together a few months later. I’ve known him four years now. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever, and sometimes it feels like it’s been four weeks.

Love is interesting. I love that Ursula Le Guin quote, “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” I think that is an excellent explanation for why I feel like I have known and loved Ben forever and sometimes it feels my knowledge of and love for him was born only yesterday. It’s because it is born, and it grows, and it weakens, and it heals, and it thrives, and it weakens again, and it dies, and it is reborn again. It’s not a perfectly circular cycle; more often than not, stages skip or repeat. It is nothing if not unpredictable.

Love changes with time, with experience, with knowledge. Love changes because people change. Change is the only truly inevitable thing in life, besides death. People learn, people grow, people age, people gain experience. Hopefully, when people do change – and they always do, no matter how monumentally or infinitesimally – they change in a way that complements their chosen partner.

I also believe that love is a choice. Falling in love isn’t; falling in love is emotions, selfishness, adrenaline. It is, for most people, effortless and unconscious. But, loving someone is a choice. Loving someone is choosing them over every other possible match. Loving someone is putting them and their needs first. Love is putting in effort to make things work.

So, whether you’re in love or loving or both, this Valentine’s day, remember that the most important thing is making the person you love, romantically or platonically etc., feel loved and appreciated. That’s all any of us ever really want, anyway. And to Ben – I love you endlessly.

How to Maintain a Happy Long Distance Relationship

How to Maintain a Happy Long Distance Relationship

Some of you may know, I have been in a relationship for almost three and a half years. For about two years of that time, this relationship has been long-distance. We’re still rock-solid, so I thought I might share a few of the tips and tricks that have worked for us. Some of these tips are important for non-long-distance relationships, too!

Communicate.

This is essential in any relationship, but in one where the majority of communication is through technology, whether it be texts, emails, or video chatting, communication is crucial. Especially when it comes to texts and emails, and even to some extent phone calls, essential parts of conversation are missing – to name a few, tone, emphasis, and body language. Being clear about what you mean is so important, because other contextual conversational clues are missing. Choose your words carefully.

Include them.

Communication in a long-distance relationship is also inclusion. This means not only sharing news with your significant other, but sharing when you think of them or see or hear something that makes you think of them. It means sending videos and pictures, too. It means letting them know about your day, even what you think may be insignificant. They want to know, just as you want to know about their day.

Be involved.

Being involved doesn’t just mean asking questions, though that is a necessity as well. Being interested and involved means actually listening to what your significant other is saying, and not just waiting for your turn to talk. It means responding to what they are saying, too, and doing so until they are done. It means following up on things they’ve told you in the past. Everyone loves to be listened to; everyone loves to know what they’ve said has mattered to and stuck with someone.

Visit.

Okay, this one is beyond obvious. But, let me elaborate. Of course it’s important to visit your significant other in a long-distance relationship. However, it’s even more important to figure out the amounts – how long you will visit, how long you’ll go between visits, who will travel when, who will pay for what, for example. These are important conversations to have when in a long-distance relationship.

Remember they have a life.

Your significant other has a life of their own, separate from you. That means that sometimes they’re not available when you are. This does not mean they don’t love you or prioritize you; it just means they’re living a life of their own. It is more significant that someone include you as an important part of their complicated life, than that someone only waits by the phone for you, though that’s difficult to remember when all you want is to talk to them and they’re not available.

Be affectionate.

It can be incredibly difficult to feel loved when your love isn’t anywhere near you. They can’t touch you, or smile at you, etc. That’s why it’s important to tell your love how you feel about them. Don’t hold back; send that random “I love you” or “I miss you” text. Heck, every once in awhile, send a long message about everything you love about them. It’s a nice reminder to receive during the course of the day. Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone deserves to be loved. Remind your love you love them.

 

15 Facts about Me!

15 Facts about Me!
  1. I am a synesthete. (See earlier post on synesthesia.) My favorite color is cerulean blue. To me, the color represents joy and excitement, and the warmth and relaxation of the beach.
  2. Starting from a very young age, I was obsessed with the Titanic. I even met Bob Ballard and got his signed book (thanks mom!). To this day, I am still captivated by it, and Titanic the Musical is one of my favorites.
  3. My maternal great-grandparents came from Mariglianella, Italy, in the 1920s. My dad’s family has been in the U.S. for a long time, and they are mostly German-American. My dad’s surname is an Americanization of a German surname. Last Christmas my dad gave my sister and me a gift that proves we are Daughters of the American Revolution!
  4. I am a natural blonde. Until I was fifteen my hair turned almost white every summer. Also, my mother refused to do anything past trimming my hair for the first seven years of my life. I guess she couldn’t bear to cut the long, white-blonde curls.
  5. I am a lyric coloratura soprano. I studied vocal performance at Elon University for almost two years under Beth Carter’s instruction. I have sung in the Kennedy Center twice, and Carnegie Hall once, both times in choirs.
  6. I have broken my fifth metatarsal in each foot – on separate occasions, first in 2013 and the other in 2017.
  7. I love flowers. My favorite are pale pink peonies, though I also love roses, daisies, tulips, magnolia, cosmos, anemone, and hydrangea. (Thanks dad, for always bringing in your flowers from the yard.)
  8. My favorite book is the unabridged Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, though I haven’t read every page since the first read-through, because I learned which chapters I can skip. Les Miserables is also my favorite musical.
  9. I love to cook and bake, especially with unconventional combinations. One of my favorites is blackberry, ginger, and dijon on chicken, or chili powder on butternut squash.
  10. I love big band swing. I used to love the WAMU radio show, “Hot Jazz Saturday Night,” and looked forward to it every week, before it was cancelled.
  11. I’m currently in love with the TV show The Bold Type, which airs on Freeform. I love that it depicts strong female characters who support each other and lift each other up and make each other better people.
  12. On October 3rd, I will have been in a relationship with the love of my life for three and a half years. He is handsome, charming, funny, hard-working, supportive, loving, adorable, and crazy intelligent. He makes me a better me.
  13. My best friend and I have been best friends our entire lives. I cannot say enough good things about her, ever. She is beautiful, smart, strong, utterly hilarious, and quirky.
  14. I want to learn to crochet. I know how to knit (badly), but I’m told crochet is easier. It certainly looks more interesting.
  15. When I was a kid, I collected foreign coins. Friends and family heard about this, and assisted me in my collecting whenever they came back from overseas. Some of the coins are from countries that no longer exist, and I have no idea how many countries all these coins are from.

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

The picture you see above is the finished result of our belated third anniversary dinner. I decided, since it was cold and rainy on the one night we could do it, to have an indoor picnic in the tiny bedroom that I share with my little dog in the four-bedroom apartment I share with three other women, two other dogs, and a cat. My little bedroom was really the only space we could use for any privacy.

All you need to duplicate this is you or your significant other’s favorite recipe (the one that you can stand), a few things from the dollar store and cheap section at Target, and lots of love. (I know, I know, cue retching noise.)

The things I got from the dollar store are: tea lights, a plastic tablecloth, and wine glasses. The things from the cheap section of Target are: a bunch of fake roses in a glass vase, a short string of battery-powered lights, and more candles. Because I am a college student, I also didn’t have wine glasses, so those were procured at the dollar store as well.

I made the boyfriend’s favorite dish: chicken parmesan, or a variation thereof. I made the sauce myself, using no recipe at all, just prior knowledge from watching my mother and grandparents make endless batches of sauce. After heating the olive oil in a saucepan, I seasoned it with garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil, and added the onions. Then the canned tomatoes were poured in, and I crushed them with a wooden spoon in the pan. Unfortunately the tomatoes, being whole, had seeds, but this was overlooked during consumption. A splash of red wine, and I let it stew for a while on low heat.

The boyfriend helped with the chicken and the salad like the decent adult he is. I forgot the flour step of the breading and had him dip the chicken in egg, then Panko breadcrumbs. The chicken cooked in a pan for about five minutes, then was placed on a baking sheet, drizzled with sauce, and covered in mozzarella. He slid it into the oven, set at 350 degrees, until the coating was golden under the white and the red of the cheese and the sauce.

The pasta being boiled and the salad made (nothing special, just a lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, and diced apples, dressed with honey and apple cider vinegar), dinner was ready. Beverages were red wine for me, beer for the boyfriend – while I love wine and dislike beer, he’s a beer drinker to the core.

I had spread the red plastic tablecloth on the floor, and the boyfriend helped me move my trunk to serve as table to the center of it. I draped the battery-powered lights across the trunk, lit the candles, and we brought in the food. It was romantic with candlelight and delicious, especially so since we made the meal together.

Please feel free to like, comment, share, and replicate!