Last month, the man who convinced me that he was going to marry me decided that he no longer wanted to be with me. This was the person whom I had invested years of my life in. I had given him parts of myself that I thought would be forever reserved for only me. He was different, though, as cliché as it sounds, and I will forever be grateful for everything that our relationship, which spanned multiple years, oceans, hours, and continents, taught me.
Here are 5 love lessons I learned from our relationship:
1. The “honeymoon period” is a very real thing.
We’ve all seen it in the movies. The guy falls for the girl, and he is quite literally obsessed with her. In most cases, his love is reciprocated, and it seems to last and last… and last. That is the honeymoon period. Your relationship is new, it’s exciting, and it’s fiery, so you always want to be around your new partner. You constantly feel as though you’re on cloud 9. After a few months, when this pervasive elation dies down, your relationship doesn’t suddenly become terrible. It just means that the honeymoon period is over, and for the first time, you are experiencing what the relationship is actually like.
2. Relationships are never going to be flawless, but they should never make you miserable.
In case you missed the memo, relationships are hard. They are work. They are time, commitment, and unconditional trust. As much as people may have said that “You do not get to choose who you fall in love with,” you still have to choose to continue to love your partner on the days when you can’t so much as stand to look them in the eye. You choose to love each other, even on the days when you don’t necessarily like each other.
Still, though, your relationship, with all of its little niggles and annoyances, should never make you miserable. You shouldn’t find yourself lying in bed, bawling your eyes out, and wondering why you are never enough for your partner.
3. You are going to fight with the person you love, and it is going to suck.
No matter how perfect your relationship is, fights happen. They can happen for stupid reasons, like your partner’s inability to decide what you should have for dinner or your habit of forgetting to replace the toilet roll (for the millionth time). You will have ugly fights, too. These are the fights when you are truly angry – more angry than you ever thought possible. You yell, scream, and cry because you’ve just had to explain the same concept to him 12 times over because he just doesn’t get it. There are going to be nights where you don’t want to speak to, see, or even acknowledge each other. That’s the reality, and it’s going to be shitty.
4. You can miss someone with every fibre of your being, but not want them back.
This is the lesson I learned right after my relationship broke down. This is the lesson that hurt. My ex-partner told me, “I love you. But this is not good enough.” I understood his perspective completely. I knew that as much as I adored him and missed our relationship, I could not leave him stuck in an unhappy situation. I discovered that my partner’s happiness is just as important as mine. If he didn’t want to stay, then that was OK, as long as he was happy with his choice.
Many people and advice blogs will tell you as women, it is your right to be happy, and your partner should compromise his own happiness for the sake of yours. That viewpoint, to be perfectly honest, is gross. Our partners are just as entitled happiness and comfort in our relationships as we are. They shouldn’t feel the need to force themselves to stay out of obligation… and neither should we.
5. It is OK to want your partner back, too.
This was the hardest lesson for me to come to terms with, and is for a lot of people I know, too. It is OK to still want the person whom you have invested months or years of your life in after you break up. You do not have to hate them and want them dead.And it is also not a bad idea to give your relationship another chance.
These 5 lessons are instrumental in learning to navigate the world of adult relationships. These lessons and their consequences, both good and bad, will shape not just my future relationships, but also myself as a person.