I’m 30 years old and still don’t know if I fully understand love, or if I’m even mature enough to handle it.
But, I can tell you one thing: I have learned so many valuable lessons from the countless relationships I have managed to ruin.
For someone like me, relationships have never come easily. Some people are just more loveable. They can attract and keep a partner, consistently, throughout their lives.
Their personalities are more agreeable and soft. I'm not mad at these people; I’m just envious.
I’ve had to go through so much self-reflection and therapy (mostly just from friends since I’m broke) to even arrive at a place where I finally feel ready and able to have a healthy relationship.
These are the five most important mentalities I have learned to accept:
1. Having great expectations
Expectations aren’t always bad, but in relationships, there is a huge difference between knowing what you want and what you will put up with and trying to make someone do those things for you.
Pressure and guilt-tripping of any kind will make most people want to do the exact opposite.
If someone can’t offer you what you want and need, then, for your own sake, move on. There is no use in trying to force it. If you want to get married and the other party doesn't see a future with you, let him or her go.
My hairdresser told me this little parable once when I was constantly upset by a man who never met my expectations: “It’s like going to a little market on the corner with a sign outside that reads, ‘We Do Not, Nor Will We Ever, Have Milk’ and expecting there to be milk in that store.
You keep coming back, over and over again, and are upset by them still not having milk.”
I learned letting go and letting someone new in is so much more fulfilling than trying to mold someone into who and what I want him to be.
2. Needing to always be right
This has been the hardest thing for me to let go of. I get so much satisfaction and joy from proving someone wrong.
I have such strong opinions and I love to debate everything. I’ve even been known to get angry and/or cry if I feel like my voice isn’t being heard or is overpowered.
I have learned this doesn't work relationships. It’s an ego thing, and there is just no room for that kind of mentality when it comes to love.
I still like to have a healthy debate, but when it starts to get heated, I back off. Preserving intimacy has become more important to me than being right.
Who cares if he thinks “Top Gun” is the greatest movie of all time? I don’t need to make him feel stupid or question his taste if what he likes is different from what I like.
And, if I’m arguing with him about that, imagine what I would be like when trying to be right about finances, children and future plans.
Relationships are all about compromise, and I’ve learned to put that into practice, even in the smallest of ways. I’ve also learned if someone doesn’t agree with my view, it is not a personal attack against my character.
3. Making him responsible for my happiness
In the lengths of time I've been single, I have had no problem filling up my social calendar and making myself happy.
It was always strange to me that once I met a guy, I would immediately drop all of my daily practices and put all of my focus on him. The problem with this is if he were unavailable, I would take it personally and feel upset.
Getting into a relationship doesn’t and shouldn't mean losing yourself. Instead, it should complement your already amazing life.
The most important relationship you will ever have in life is the one with yourself, so you have to continue to take care of you, even when someone else is in the picture.
I learned being in love is good and fun, but as an adult, I have to keep a separate identity and life outside of him. I know how to make myself happy and I can continue to do so, even while in a relationship.
4. Making him love me
I can’t think of anything in this world more heartbreaking than unrequited love. It always feels like the universe is playing a mean joke on me when I meet someone I’m into, but the feelings aren’t mutual.
And, sometimes, those situations just turn into friends with benefits, which hurts even more. No matter how good you are in bed or how cool and beautiful you are, if he doesn’t feel it, he doesn’t feel it. Nothing you do or say will change that fact.
I learned one should never jump headfirst into feeling crazy in love until one knows it’s reciprocated. It doesn’t mean having walls up; it just means taking things slowly at first.
And, if he’s not feeling it, it’s best to move on and not beg, plead, or waste time trying to make things different.
5. Venting to him about everything
I love to talk about how I feel. I also love for other people to tell me how they feel. Men like to do this to a certain extent, but not all of the time and definitely not at length.
Men are not as sensitive as women, so they don’t communicate on the same wavelength or in the same language.
If you come to them with a problem, they try to solve it. But, sometimes, that’s not what you want. Sometimes, you just want to hash things out, complain and say how it makes you feel. Those are times when you should talk to your girlfriends.
I learned the way I deal with things is different from the way my partner does, and that’s okay. If I wanted to date someone just like me, I’d date my best friend.
A man is the yin to my yang and I can’t take it personally when he isn’t as emotional about certain things.
Being in your 20s is all about making mistakes and learning, and since I am a late bloomer, it took me the entirety of that decade to come to this place of enlightenment.
I am finally ready for someone to come into my life so I can put these newfound lessons into practice.