I remember the moment I became "boy crazy"; it felt like an overnight transformation. Suddenly, I became mute around certain boys and couldn't articulate the feelings in my stomach when they would be in my presence.
Luckily, it wasn't all downhill from there because, as I matured, I began to choose which men were worthy of my attention, and which ones should become a distant memory.
I learned about relationship dynamics and some of the fundamentals while watching my grandparents interact with each other. I adored watching my grandfather, Papafito, interact with my grandmother. In fact, simply running errands with the both of them brought me extreme happiness because of the love and respect that constantly lived within their relationship.
The way my grandpa treated my grandmother set the example for how a man should love a woman. The things I witnessed in my childhood have helped me when choosing a partner for myself by identifying characteristics that complement me and also bring out my best qualities.
1. Relationship matters are to remain private.
A lot of men like to go drink a beer with their friends and complain about their personal lives with their girlfriends or spouses.
Not my grandfather.
My grandma was the "more outgoing one" in their relationship and, therefore, her opinions were often voiced with a sense of fearlessness. Even though my grandpa disagreed with my grandmother, he waited to talk to her about these things in private. He made it known that public settings or guests in their home had no business intervening with private affairs.
My grandpa did not encourage public disagreements and chose to remain impartial, which left my grandmother and those around them no other choice but to shift their focus or change the conversation.
He loved her so much that he controlled the timing of uncomfortable conversations in an effort to protect their relationship from public opinion.
2. Always make decisions together; it shows love, compassion and respect.
Whether it was what they were eating for lunch, what their plans for the day entailed or where their finances were headed, my grandpa always sought my grandmother's input.
Regardless of how big or small, the decision was made by both parties. Doing this wasn't something my grandmother had to demand either; it was something my grandpa did naturally and with ease.
The long-term positive impact this had on their relationship grew exponentially over time. They communicated with the desire to learn about each other, and that strengthened and kept their love alive over the years.
Now as an adult, I make a conscious effort to choose a man who wants to show me love in a similar way because I, too, want my voice and my perspective to matter just as much as my partner's.
Love requires us to think about our significant others as much as we do ourselves.
My grandpa consistently demonstrated his love; he didn't allow time to turn him into a complacent communicator. His desire to keep certain things a priority, like including my grandma in the decision-making process, nurtured their love and, ultimately, their marriage.
3. The way you communicate has a lasting impact.
Have you ever heard the saying: "It's not what you say, but how you say it"? Well, my grandpa could have amended that phrase by adding that sometimes, you don't have to say much at all and that can yield better results.
My grandpa taught me loving a woman requires attentive listening and positive reactions. He definitely did not shy away from participating in conversations, but he avoided being disrespectful to my grandmother at all costs.
I didn't hear him raise his voice or his eyebrow a single time. He felt that doing that would accomplish nothing and could actually leave matters worse.
He was a serious man and someone who carried himself with a sense of formality. Therefore, when he spoke, everyone listened (and even took notes at times). His tone shifted with the subject of the conversation, but the volume remained the same. Yelling, screaming or profanity were not tactics he used to get his point across.
And yet he always managed to be heard and have his voice matter.
Like any two people who spend a lot of time together, my grandparents did not always agree on everything. But regardless of what they were discussing, his love prevailed by allowing him to maintain a level of respect when speaking to my grandma.
The love he felt for my grandmother was never greater than his ego or desire to be right. What was even sweeter was that the positive feelings he felt toward her were consistently seen through all of his gestures... leaving those around him wanting something similar for themselves.