30 Lessons About Relationships I Learned By The Time I Turned 30

by Zara Barrie

My 20s were a scalding hot mess that felt like running on a treadmill and struggling to catch your breath. It's painful, and you think your heart is going to EXPLODE out of your chest.

"Oh, it must be worth something," you think, until you realize after 35 minutes that you actually haven't moved a lick, and you're just stuck on the same machine in the same dismal, poorly-lit gym.

But to my babies who are still in their 20s (and even you teen creatures), I have really good news: All of these messy relationships, shame spirals, epic mistakes, bad hookups and toxic love affairs aren't for nothing, my sweet kittens.

Somewhere between 29 and 32, the clouds will break open, the sun will shine through, you'll finally be able to see the horizon clearly and everything will just make sense.

You'll realize all of the hard shit you've dealt with has taught you powerful lessons about love (and sex).

Each bad relationship is just bringing you closer to finding the kind of healthy, wonderful love you deserve — the kind that takes you higher, not lower.

Each bad relationship is just bringing you closer to finding the kind of healthy love you deserve.

The infinite struggle of my twenties was all worth it. Now, I have a huge spectrum of healthy relationship lessons I'll never forget.

Here are 30 relationship lessons that finally clicked into my brain when I turned 30:

1. Tempestuous relationships seem fun and glamorous, but you need to cut the cord after six weeks. Otherwise, you'll become addicted to the vicious cycle and mistake yelling, screaming and crying for passion.

2. Speaking of passion, yelling, screaming, crying and fighting are not passion. Sometimes, it's actually emotional abuse. In fact, when you're in that kind of dynamic, you're not even really in love. Real love doesn't need that bullshit because it's powerful, consuming and breathtaking on its own.

Yelling, screaming, crying and fighting are not passion.

3. Don't ever let negative emotions fester inside you. Don't try to be the "chill girl" who doesn't complain about anything because, one day, you'll snap. All of the anger and resentment you've been harboring toward your partner will come flooding out of you, and it won't be pretty. (It'll even destroy the furniture.)

4. Never let shame harbor inside of you, either. Harboring shame is like swallowing a giant spoonful of poison. So if you're ashamed of the time you fell asleep during sex, that your boobs look weird naked or that you said "I love you" and your partner didn't say it back, just get over it. Holding that shame inside is killing your insides.

Harboring shame is like swallowing a giant spoonful of poison.

5. Codependency is very different from love. Codependency is "I NEED YOU, BABY," and love is "I WANT YOU, BUT I DON'T NEED YOU, BABY."

6. To have real love, you must cultivate a deep, healthy relationship with yourself FIRST.

7. Rapid-fire romance (the kind that moves super fast, and you say "I love you" on the third date, and you're all starry-eyed and crazy) always ends in flames. Flames burn, and if it's burning and hurting, it's unhealthy.

8. Falling in love at first sight is fairy tale bullshit. You can't love someone you don't know. You're falling in love with an illusion, not a real person.

You can't love someone you don't know. You're falling in love with an illusion, not a real person.

9. It's very tempting to project your fantasy of someone on to that person, especially in the early phases of your relationship. That's why you need to take things slow and make sure you're falling for the real person — flaws and all.

10. Alcohol is the mortal enemy of a healthy relationship.

11. Never start out a relationship by getting black-out wasted together. Being drunk gives you a false sense of connection, and you might sober up and realize you had nothing in common with this person.

12. When you're fighting with your partner, and the two of you are going through a really tough time, drinking or doing drugs together will result in horrible, toxic, evil, cruel fights. You'll be screaming at each other in the city streets with people staring. You will also wake up in the morning and not even remember what the hell you were fighting about.

13. No one is going to rescue you. I spent a long time being the damaged damsel in distress, waiting for someone to pick me up off the floor. No one did, and I had to pick myself up, dust off my designer dress and actively search for a partner.

14. OK, I lied. If you're a broken mess looking to be rescued, there will actually be some people who want to "save you." But they have issues of their own. They think, if they save you, then they're subconsciously saving their alcoholic, depressed mom. They're just using you to work through they're own shit. It's not about you, and it never will be.

15. The best candidates for healthy relationships are people who are currently in therapy. They have such an honest understanding of themselves, and they will never take their emotional turmoil out on you. If they do, they'll be immediately aware of it and apologize.

You have to pick yourself up off of the floor, dust off your designer dress and search for a partner.

16. The best way for you to be a candidate for a healthy relationship is to be in therapy. You'll break all your bad habits, addictions and vicious cycles to become really stable. And when you're really stable, you'll attract really kickass people who have their shit together.

17. PSA: Stability is very sexy. Someone who works hard, remembers your birthday, gives you attention and doesn't let you get away with crazy antics is fucking HOT.

18. Stability should be the main dish in every relationship. But hey, you need a side dish of crazy. A little bit of mental illness, complexity, weirdness and quirkiness is nice. It's like tossing in a drop of hot sauce in your Bloody Mary. Too much of it, and it'll be too intense and taste like shit. But just the right amount makes it spicy and sexy.

19. You have to know the difference between your own personal baggage and relationship baggage. For example, if I have jealousy issues because an ex cheated on me, that's my own baggage. So I can't act like a wild, jealous bitch to my new innocent partner just because I have issues from the past. However, if I don't feel like my partner listens to me when I'm confessing my deepest secrets, that's relationship baggage. Make sense?

20. Please, try your damn hardest not to fall in love with someone who actively abuses drugs. I know so many drug addicts who are gorgeous, wonderful, amazing, creative people — very easy to fall in love with. But you can't trust someone who's abusing drugs. They will put the drugs before you, and it will break your heart.

Stability should be the main dish in every relationship. But hey, you need a side dish of crazy.

21. It will also break your heart to see something beautiful fall into the ugly arms of addiction and destroy itself. If you love an addict, be their friend, support them, but don't date them until they've completed treatment.

22. If you're in a happy, wonderful relationship, don't fuck it up by getting into hard drugs. These drugs run rampant in our culture, but sensitive souls like you and me are prone to addiction. (It's hard to feel so much.) It will destroy your healthy relationship (and possibly your life). If you value your relationship, just say "No, thank you" when you're offered that ugly, white powder.

23. Do not let your identity get blurred while you're in a relationship. When you lose your sense of self in the thick of a relationship, you'll grow needy. You'll lose all your friends. You'll forget about the fierce girl you once were. You'll feel this emptiness inside you all the time, and you'll try and fill it with another person. That never ends well.

24. Don't "let yourself go" in a relationship. Like, don't start wearing sweats all the time or start peeing with the door open or think it's OK to walk around the house with your green face mask on. Stay sexy, and keep the spark alive, baby.

25. You have to work at the sex in a long-term relationship. If you don't have sex, you'll lose your sense of intimacy. And if you're not intimate with your partner, you're simply just best friends. The only difference between friends and lovers is SEX.

26. Distance is your best friend. Plan trips with your friends that don't include bae. Go out with your friends at least once a week without bae. Let bae travel the world without you. Missing your partner is an amazing, sweet torture.

27. If your partner is self-obsessed, crazy and unpredictable, they're narcissists, not artists.

28. Love is so much deeper than just a feeling. The feeling of love is actually just chemistry, which is definitely important. But actual love is a combination of so many things: respect, cohesive dreams, being kind to each other, having shared passions and having a similar moral compass. Don't think only the feeling of love is love. Love is nuanced as hell.

Love is nuanced as hell.

29. Masturbate as much as possible when you're in a relationship to remind yourself that, no matter what goes down, you can always give yourself an amazing orgasm.

30. Never depend on your partner financially. Having your own money means, when it's time to leave the relationship, you can get out whenever you want. I can't tell you how many friends I have who are stuck in horrible relationships because they don't have a cent to their name. Even if you date someone rich, keep working, babe. When shit goes down, you want to be able to leave right away and never look back. And leaving costs money.

I love you all. Message me, your lesbian big sister, if you need advice. And trust me, it gets easier, and it gets better. Calm down because it will all work out, so enjoy the goddamn ride.