Love is bittersweet. Some of us have experienced passion that we'll forever try to put into words, and breakups that were so heartbreaking. What I learned about love during my first adult relationship is that it's so much more than those crushes from high school. It's about having unconditional feelings for another human being, and a few other things that come with kissing so many frogs just to find your soulmate.
Whether you're a hopeless romantic or an avid fan of romantic movies like The Notebook and The Holiday, you've probably put an idea in your head about what love should be. Some want it to be wild and carefree, and others are looking for all of the comfort in the world instead of adventure. Based on my personal experiences, I've learned that it's best to have a balance of both.
Love in a lot of ways should keep you on your toes, but also come with a lot of trust and a safe place to snuggle up at the end of the day. Your first adult relationship may feel like an emotional rollercoaster. You'll fall hard when you realize just how bold and beautiful love can be. If you unfortunately face a breakup, you'll learn that something so sweet requires you to have a tough side, too. These nine things are the lessons I've learned from love during my first adult relationship.
1. Always Be Yourself
You should always be yourself when it comes to your relationships. When you're out there searching for "the one," you can easily lose yourself and settle for something that's just not the right fit. You'll try to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and inevitably realize that you're living a life that doesn't feel like yours. In your first adult relationship, you may learn that love is about compromise, but that your personality doesn't have to be a part of that package.
Truth is, your originality is what makes you so beautiful inside and out. I've learned that people will be attracted to the girl who is always being herself. I've also learned that love means never having to change for another person. Your version of Cinderella's glass slipper is coming, so don't worry about making the wrong shoes fit in the meantime.
2. Make Compromises
Love means making some compromises. Maybe your significant other wants to order pizza on a Friday night and hang with their friend crew instead of yours. Being 20-something is a lot about finding balance, and your first adult relationship will truly put you on the beam.
You two are a team, and working together is key. Like a game of soccer, you'll want to shoot and score every time. But, you have to learn how to pass the ball in order for love to work. Don't ever compromise your values in the process, but learn to let some little things go.
3. Trust Each Other
Take it from me — it's all about trust. As an "adult," you'll see a lot more of the world and probably start to feel a little cynical. You've watched those romantic comedies and reality television shows where relationships don't pan out the way you'd hoped. But, don't let yourself be fooled, and instead find trust in your significant other.
My first adult relationship taught me that most of the little things I worry about never really happen. It was all totally in my head. Where it's natural and good to test someone when you're first together, it's also important that you take their cues in time. You have to believe in yourself and the other person if you want this love story to work.
4. Feel Inspired
Love should feel exciting, and you don't necessarily have to get out of your comfort zone to feel a rush in your relationship. As 20-somethings, we're following a lot of dreams, and significant others should always remind us to keep going. Truth is, we all need a little push in order to pursue our passions to the fullest, and being able to turn to my relationship when I've needed some inspiration (and a spark in my soul) has been life-changing.
Truth is, if you're spending so much time with another person, it's key that you feel supported. You want to be each other's best friend and number one fan. Love should always lift you up, and I have my first adult relationship to thank for that lesson.
5. Miss Each Other
When you're in a relationship, it's seemingly so hard to spend time away from each other. You want to cancel all of your plans and call out of work, just for a slow morning filled with snuggling and breakfast with bae. But, my first adult relationship taught me that missing each other is important, too. Together, you'll make so many memories, but having your separate stories keeps your relationship interesting at all times. Not to mention, the reunion is always so sweet.
You lived a full life before they came in the picture, and you'll want to spend time pursuing your passions and hanging with your friends just the same. They'll travel for work, and you'll be forced to FaceTime, or maybe your schedules just won't line up. Take those times as an opportunity to let your heart grow so much fonder.
6. It's OK To Disagree Sometimes
Don't be afraid to disagree. You're both human, and are bound to have different viewpoints on certain subjects. It's key that you let each other know how you feel instead of bottling your true emotions up inside.
My first adult relationship taught me that love means standing up for yourself. If you find your feelings have been hurt, it's important to say something and keep the communication open. Now, I'm not saying that you should be bickering constantly over situations that are honestly quite insignificant. For example, if your partner one time forgot about your plans to go grocery shopping on Saturday morning, then it's OK.
7. Find Time For Friends... And Yourself
Seriously, you have a life beyond your significant other. They're a huge part of your world, and loving them is quite possibly your favorite way to pass time. But, there are so many memories to be made with your girl crew on a Saturday night. So, don't always stay in and have a movie marathon with bae.
Just the same, be sure to save some time for yourself. Even if you just have self-care Sunday every week and treat yourself to bubble baths and face masks, I've learned it's so important and necessary to get that space. Once again, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
8. Show Your Vulnerable Side
Being loved by another person means that you always have someone you feel comfortable revealing your vulnerable side to. In other words, when you're stressed out, or just need a shoulder to cry on, it's oddly beautiful to be able to run to your significant other. They should be your unwavering support system, and the one person you can trust when everything is feeling really crummy. Relationships come with a lot of fun and flirting, but sometimes you really just need a hug and inspirational pep talk.
My first adult relationship has taught me that love is really about revealing our true selves to another person. Think of all those memes: "If you can't handle me at my ____, then you can't have me at my ____." Although Twitter has had me laughing out loud, there are some real points in those tweets if you dig a little deeper.
9. Keep It Simple
Your first adult relationship will teach you that at the end of the day, love really is quite simple. When you're in love, you'll just get a gut feeling. You'll realize that you'd do anything for that other person, just because. You'll catch yourself thinking about them casually throughout the day, or wishing they were around when something funny happened at work. It's not all decoding text messages and posting about each other on social media — despite what modern day love stories may tell you. I've learned during my first adult relationship that everything can always happen so naturally.