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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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.