It has taken a lot of bad relationships, awkward first dates, and weird encounters to find out exactly what I never want in a life partner.
I've been in a serious relationship that was so toxic Britney Spears couldn't even love what he did, and I've also dated a man for a week only to realize that it was more out of convenience than compatibility.
But through these failed relationships, I have come to realize that all these failures have just been in preparation for finding what I actually need out of someone I plan on being in a serious relationship with.
Every day I am constantly reminded that 85 percent of my high school graduating class is now married and starting to have kids and buy houses. By the time I get to that point, they will probably be preparing themselves for a second marriage. While this is terrifying, it also lets me breathe a sigh of relief.
I am in no rush, and this journey is my own.
Each year I find that as I grow more as a person and discover a bit more about myself. I learn about my needs for what I want and who I want. Every year, these alter slightly and trust me, 24-year-old me thanks 18-year-old me everyday for staying single.
But it's through my failed relationships that I have seen how far I've come as a person, and as someone's potential girlfriend.
1. I'm actually not sorry.
I have always apologized too much. Sorry for bothering you; sorry for calling you too much; sorry I took so long to respond. The list goes on and on and on!
I used to constantly try to mold myself into someone's idea of perfect that I was always saying sorry for things that I had no reason to be sorry for. I am expressive by nature, in my feelings, in the way I love, in the way I connect with people, and in the words I write. It turns out that can scare that crap out of guys who are not willing to put themselves out there for someone like me.
So, naturally, I would always apologize for speaking my mind, saying how I felt, or how they made me feel in fear that I would scare them away, or come off as needy or clingy and it's a crazy thing to do!
I will still catch myself doing it every so often, sometimes after it's too late, but I still continually work on it everyday. The right person will never make you apologize for being who you are.
2. Difference causes interest.
Dating someone who has completely different interests or views or doesn't absolutely love all the same things you do can be terrifying.
Now, I'm not saying go out and seek the person who is exactly opposite to everything you think and feel, but you don't have to agree on everything.
I always swore I'd end up with a writer, or a poet, or someone as hopelessly romantic as me, but I had a friend once told me something along the lines of, “if he loved all those things just as much as you, it would become more of a competition than something you can share together”. How accurate is that?!
Expand your horizons, try new things with your new partner. Share ideas, and hobbies and most importantly, experience things that are new to both of you!
3. Together, but separate.
Let me tell you this: Space is your friend.
We all know someone, or have been that person, to find a partner and disappear from the world. I've done it and it's the worst.
You need to be individuals, but do it together. Distance can be tough, but it can also build a strong foundation for the future.
This is important especially in the beginning. Don't isolate yourself from friends, from experiences, from going to your favorite places. Doing things apart will make it that much more intense and special and exciting when you finally get to spend time together again.
4. Trust until you have a reason not to.
This is the most important thing I have discovered about myself in relationships.
I work so hard to trust the person I'm with. Most of the time, it actually has nothing to do with my current relationship except that they have come after a man who has done me so wrong it's engrained in my brain that they must be like that too.
I'm better at trusting now then I was three years ago, or even a year ago, but it took time, so don't beat yourself up if you don't open up and trust right away.
And naturally, it's good to always leave a little bit of guard up in the beginning. Just don't let your guard diminish a flame before it can even be lit.
With this issue, I just always try to seek reassurance, which is where my expressive nature takes place, or try role reversal. If I was doing the same thing, would I want him to be worried, and the answer is usually no, which helps ease my mind.
Obviously, with every relationship, there are lessons to be learned, and even in ones that result in marriage, you will grow together and find out that it is not always going to be easy.
But once you know who you are and what you want, you can finally open up to finding the right person. You'll know because no matter what, they will love you for who you are, and not for what they want you to be.