In my relationship, I have found that many times, a source of my own contention and frustration is that I don’t think this is how it “should” be. I’ve felt alone and crazy and like love is more of a struggle for me than it is for anyone else. Then, I started to talk honestly and frankly with other people in relationships and found that the most unifying part of our stories was that people, in general, don’t tell the truth about the hard parts of their own relationship. Nobody knows what is “normal” versus what is an insurmountable relationship issue. We don’t know the limits of love and we don’t know when to choose to stay or when to choose to go and anything outside of a romantic expectation of what love should be seems like a betrayal or a declaration that whatever love we have isn’t enough.
1. “Relationships are hard work” does not accurately sum up the work involved in keeping a relationship healthy, fun, and alive. It takes a day-by-day commitment and sometimes that feels easy to do and other days it feels exhausting. Sometimes you’ll feel like love is not enough and you’ll want to give up and that’s okay. It’ll most likely pass.
2. Inevitably, you will become attracted to someone else and it will be confusing and difficult to navigate, because you won’t know if this is a situation where you think the grass is greener on the other side or if this new person is actually someone you’re meant to be with.
3. Sometimes, your significant other is going through something big and difficult emotionally and nothing you say or do will help them. And, because you’re on the front-lines of their emotions, they will take it out on you and there’s no getting around the fact that it will be hard. You will be supportive and loving and you will also be hurt and shut-out and, while it shouldn’t be this way, it will be that way and you will just have to weather the storm until whatever big thing they’re dealing with passes.
4. A romantic relationship will always be more difficult to traverse than any other relationship merely because the emotional states of both parties are so heightened. You will take things personally. Your emotions will be raw. You will find yourself crying despite your better judgments and you will learn to treat yourself with kindness.
5. Sometimes you’ll be so sure that you want to be with them that they feel like a necessary limb, but other times you’re so unsure and so indecisive that you don’t know how to see yourself out of the fog.
6. You will hate when people say “you know when you know” because that’s not always true and can be a total mindfuck to people in relationships where there are doubts and reevaluations and there is a striking absence of the day to day certainty that love is supposed to afford you.
7. While we’d all hope that love could surpass all matter of logistics, life shit can determine the longevity of a relationship. You can’t always reconcile things like a disparity in where to build a life, what you want from the future, and other details that impact your daily life.
8. And, while love is powerful, if you’re both not going in the same direction and you’re both not growing together and there are more incongruences than not, the love can weaken and that will be heartbreaking to witness.
9. The fights are hard, but the conversations that could determine your future together are even harder.
10. Fitting your lives together is like trying to create a cohesive image out of jigsaw puzzle pieces from twenty different boxes.
11. Venting is necessary, but you will feel 100% like you betrayed your significant other when you vent about your personal life, even though it was necessary to do so. And, if your friend you vented to sees your significant other differently after you talked to them, you will feel even worse, because most likely the issue has already blown over and you vented during a particularly vulnerable time and most of what you said was just bullshit and defensiveness anyway.
12. It’s very possible to be in a relationship and still sometimes feel very alone.
13. If you don’t have at least a significant amount of self-acceptance, a relationship will expose everything that you hate about yourself and it will take all your energy to not get crushed under the weight of that kind of exposure.
14. Every relationship is different, but it’s easy to compare yours to others and feel as though you’re missing something or making some egregious mistake.
15. You will want honesty, but you won’t always want to hear the honest truth. You will always want to tell the truth, but it won’t always be as cut and dry to tell it.
16. There’s a lot of messy relationship details like who’s going to pay for what, who’s making more money, what kind of financial situation you both want that can complicate the love in ways that are insidious and sometimes imperceptible until they’re issues that explode like a bomb.
17. Sometimes all you’ll want is your freedom and staying will be a matter of willing yourself despite everything you think your body or mind wants.
18. Your feelings will sometimes lie to you. Fear will sometimes overrun your heart. Issues from your past will resurface and you won’t know how to reconcile who you were and who you are now within the relationship and it will be confusing and sad until you can get your head straight.
19. Your emotional wires will get crossed and you will not know what your own feelings are versus what their feelings are and you might need time away to simply be able to understand how you feel.
20. Seemingly insignificant and stupid issues like a difference in eating or socializing habits can cause a divide that you think shouldn’t be there, because love should be able to overcome those things. It often takes sticky, belabored conversations and work to get past those details, because love doesn’t solve all matter of dissimilarity.
21. Sometimes the most loving thing for yourself does not benefit or feel particularly loving to your significant other. Sometimes choosing yourself means choosing to leave. Sometimes things aren’t even or fair or as amazing as you thought they would be. Sometimes you will love and give and everything will be fine, but it will still be broken, and you’ll have to summon up enough courage to deal with all of this and more with grace and kindness, despite wanting to be anything but graceful and kind.