When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted a boyfriend. Throughout the years I had massive crushes on several different boys, but being incredibly shy, I had no idea how to act on my feelings.
Looking back, I realize it wasn't necessarily a relationship I wanted, it was merely for my feelings to be reciprocated. With time came experience, and with that experience came understanding.
The biggest misconception I had was that all a relationship required was an "I like you, and you like me."
It turns out there's actually quite a lot that goes into a relationship. Having that feeling of like -- even love -- is only the groundwork of something that requires quite a bit of serious commitment and understanding.
Expectation: You should look for an epic love story
I’m talking like Noah and Allie, Jack and Rose, Buffy and Angel, etc. You get the idea; the more tragic and painful, the better because in the end, it will work out, and you’ll have one hell of a story to tell your grandkids.
Reality: You should build something healthy
Love isn’t something that’s found, it’s created. Hey, your love story may be the stuff of legends, and if it is, that’s really great. It's okay if it's not, though. You do not need pain in order to have passion.
The two do not go hand in hand. A lot of epic love stories are actually unhealthy. People may confuse “stable and consistent” with “safe and boring,” but that doesn’t have to be the case. Those “epic” love stories aren’t the only passionate loves. Your relationship is what you make it.
Expectation: It will make you happy
There's just something missing from your life, you know? You don't feel whole or complete; you're bored easily and just don't quite feel fulfilled. Finding someone to love and who loves you back will definitely fix that.
Reality: Relationships are for you to share your happiness
The only lasting happiness that exists is the kind that comes from within yourself. Whether it's simple inner peace or doing things you love, it is your decision. Being happy on your own grants you the ability to make the healthiest decisions for yourself.
You choose to be with someone else because you want to, not because you feel you need to. Your partner cannot be your happiness. Relying on another person to fulfill you will lead to an unhealthy level of dependency. It's also an unfair position to put the other person in, and can lead to resentment or unhappiness.
Expectation: You and I become "we"
When one of you is invited somewhere, you both go; one of you doesn't exist without another. People get so used to you being together that they think it's weird when you do happen to go solo for a night out. Your relationship cannot exist without your partner; therefore, you can't either.
Reality: It takes two
If you become a "we" and stop maintaining two distinct lives and identities, the relationship risks collapsing in on itself. Relationships form and become stable because of what two people bring to the table.
The relationship itself is singular, but you cannot lose yourself in it. It is an entity created by two people, and it will always require two people to maintain it.
Expectation: Things will never go wrong
Being in a relationship means you've established a set of rules, so to speak. This is what we are; this is what we're allowed to do and this is what we can't do. It creates a level of understanding that will never be violated.
Reality: It's a promise to make things right when they go wrong
It's highly possible that your cooking is horrible, but he lies about it because he doesn't want to hurt your feelings. In return, you probably get unreasonably irritated that he can't put the toilet paper facing the right way.
Life isn't perfect and neither are people. We all make mistakes, and nobody ever gets to an age where he or she suddenly knows all the right decisions to make.
Sometimes, these mistakes and misunderstandings are small and easy to get past, and sometimes they aren't. Sometimes, those wrong decisions hurt people you care about.
A huge part of being in a relationship is choosing to put in the big effort of making things right when you’ve wronged your partner, as well as being willing to forgive when your partner has wronged you.
Expectation: You change for someone you love
We all have flaws, right? If your relationship is struggling, you will change in order to adapt to the person you’re with and improve to be good enough.
Hey, maybe you’ll even change what you want out of life so you can accommodate your partner's goals and desires. The whole point is doing whatever it takes to be together, right?
Reality: A relationship is a two-way street
You should not have to change who you are in order to be with someone you love. Sometimes, compromise is necessary in order to do what’s best for the relationship, but the relationship and your partner are NOT the same thing.
If either of you need to change yourselves just to create a relationship in the first place, it is absolutely not a relationship in which you will be happy.
Further, if you’re making some big changes and sacrifices for the good of your relationship, your partner should be doing the same, or should have done so in the past. If that isn’t the case, you should reevaluate how much you're getting in relation to how much you're giving.
Expectation: Your relationship is everything
Lots of people say you should marry your best friend, so if you’ve found someone at that level of awesome, why bother with any of your other friends?
You already have someone who likes doing all the same things as you. Cut out the extra fat; you have everything you need right in the neat little package that is your relationship.
Reality: It's a supplement to the rest of your life
As a person, you are incredibly nuanced. You have various interests and desires, and it's important to constantly satisfy those parts of yourself and seek ways to grow and improve.
It's important to have different people with whom you can enjoy and experience different things, as well as to create a solid support system. Your relationship is only one part of your varied life; if you become complacent, you're likely to become unhappy.
Expectation: Your love is the be-all, end-all
Love is all you need. How many songs have been written about this sentiment? So many that it's impossible to count. Love conquers all, and it's a magical force that will get you through anything. Then again, once you’ve fallen in love, all of your troubles are over forever.
Reality: Love is only the foundation
Relationships require a hell of a lot more than love. They require trust, effort, understanding, patience and really, whatever you want.
What you get and what you give are up to you. At times, a good relationship requires two people to compromise their pride and their desires. It means proving, time and time again, you will support one another during even the most difficult times.
Of course, you both have to have those feelings of love to see just how far you’re willing to go in the first place, but it’s the same level of dedication that will keep you together.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It