I had the idea to write a post like this a few days ago, and with today marking one month till Valentine's Day I figured... why not? My boyfriend and I are approaching our third year (nearly two years of which we have been long distance) anniversary this upcoming week. Recently, I began reflecting on, "What have I learned so far about being in a relationship? What would I want to share with others about being in a relationship?" Now, I am not a relationship expert or couples counselor by any stretch of the imagination, just a 21-year-old girl eager to share what she thinks. So, here I go... here are the relationship dos and don'ts I have learned (so far):
DON'T: Keep relevant information from your partner. Recently, my boyfriend, Tom, shared information about his past he had never shared before. Now, without going into much detail, the news wasn't necessarily a deal breaker (obviously I'm still with him), but it still hurt. With that said, my advice isn't to share everything and anything with your partner (realistically, they probably don't care what your 1st day of Kindergarten was like; or, every store you shopped at when you were at the mall), but share any information you think they would want to know. Even if you're unsure if you should tell them, tell them. And, remember: openness is the foundation of trustworthiness, and you can't have a relationship without trust!
DO: Know you won't like each other all the time. Crazy, right? Your partner with the great sense of humor, good tastes in music and food, who's very driven (and cute, too!) isn't perfect (and neither are you). Once the honeymoon phase fades and you get into a routine with each other you realize there are some things they do that aren't necessarily your favorite. "Really? Are you just going to leave your socks on the floor like that?" During times like these it is important to reflect back to all the reasons you do love your partner. Like, when he surprises you and cooks you dinner, how well he gets along with your (super annoying) younger brother, how he lets you cry on your shoulder when you're having a bad day... and focus on those. After all, part of loving someone is loving all of them... the good and the not-so-good. Only when the not-so-good outnumbers the good do you have a real problem.
DO: Know at some point you're going to have to be the bigger person. Believe me, I know it's hard, but it's necessary. If your significant lover lies to you, you can't lie to them just to "get back" at them. This will put you both into a vicious cycle of trying to one-up the other person. I know it seems godly right now, but you need to find it in yourself to look at the situation, realize all humans make mistakes, and then decide if you can forgive your partner for what they did. If you can forgive them then you can begin to move on. If you can't then you can begin to take the necessary steps to let them go. This rule not only applies to something as large as your lover blatantly lying to you, but something as simple as a fight over where you both want to go for dinner. At some point you may have to be the bigger person and say, "What am I fighting for? Does it really matter? I just want to eat. He can pick where we go this time."
DO: Compromise. I don't feel I really need to elaborate much here (I think it's fairly self-explanatory), but if you're in a relationship, believe it or not, you aren't single! So, surprise, your decisions in life won't be the same as if you were single. If you are serious about someone, and really want to be with them, there are going to be compromises along the way you are going to have to be willing to make. But, believe me, if the person you are compromising with (thus, making sacrifices for) is worth it to you, then the love you two share will outweigh any other decision you could have made. After a while it won't even feel like you are compromising with them, you will just make certain decisions naturally because you want to be with them (and that's actually a very beautiful thing).