As I have walked through Target, Publix and even Walgreens over the past few weeks I have been inundated with giant teddy bears, the big boxes of chocolate that very few people I know actually like (why are there so many weird chocolate combinations and why does the chocolate usually taste stale?…maybe that’s just me though…) and the sweet romantic gifts meant for the one whom you love. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it can be difficult to ignore all the “love” that is in the air, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to be in a relationship, in order to be whole and happy.
Do not get me wrong, relationships and dating are so much fun. My boyfriend is my favorite person in the whole wide world, and I am thankful he is such an intricate part of my life, but he is not my whole world.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, before I was dating the cutest guy in the entire universe, and I was single. I used to have this weird sadness around Valentine’s Day.
I felt like I was not good enough. I would settle for mediocre relationships or dates with losers. I did not want to face the fact that I was going to be alone and my plan was to eat the disgusting stale chocolate alone in my bed watching romantic comedies dreaming of the fairy tale ending my life would one day be. I just needed to get a stinkin’ Valentine’s Date for that ending. I thought I could somehow make even a loser into a Ryan Gosling character.
These thoughts caused me to settle.
Looking back I feel like most of the things I heard about relationships before dating my current boyfriend, were all the sweet lovey-dovey stuff. These things made me want to be dating and made me want to be in love. And even though I love my boyfriend, things are not always easy and things are very far from perfect.
So I am here to share the less glamorous parts of dating…
- If you have an insecurity within your life, it’s just going to get worse when you’re dating. In one of my previous relationships, my boyfriend cheated on me. It crushed me reading the messages between him and the other girl. I was devastated and embarrassed. How could I not have noticed that he was being unfaithful? He was my EVERYTHING and I could not believe he would betray me like that. A few years passed and I began dating my current boyfriend. Even though he is a completely different man than that boy I was dating, the insecurity and fear of him cheating was still there. I would freak out internally if I knew he would be spending time with other girls, and I would lash out at him. One day, during a freak out, I realized that my boyfriend had done nothing to betray my trust, I was acting out of insecurity and past hurts. If I wanted our relationship to flourish, which I did, I was going to need healing and to ultimately forgive my ex-boyfriend. I had to turn to God and really receive healing for that insecurity. That insecurity needed to be dealt with, or it would have been detrimental to our relationship. Looking back if I had dealt with that insecurity before my boyfriend and I began dating, I would not have freaked out or treated my boyfriend poorly within the midst of my hurts. So ladies, if you’re struggling with an insecurity or past hurt, deal with it and overcome it, before you enter into a relationship, because trust me it’s just going to be more obvious and more detrimental to you and your future significant other in the long run.
- Even though you are a beautiful woman, who has so much to offer, you are far from perfect. Going into my current relationship I had this naïve assumption that I was the strong one, the perfect one, the one that was going to have to “train,” my boyfriend. HAHAHAHA. This could not have been further from the truth. I have character flaws. If I am upset I withdraw and will not speak, but the anger or sadness is very evident on my face. If I had a long grueling day of dealing with incompetent people at work, than I am allowed to complain for hours on end, but I do not have the patience to listen to someone else complain for more than three minutes (more like three seconds). And the worst realization that came from all of this was recognizing just how selfish I truly am. When you are in a relationship, any relationship really (friendship, dating, marriage, family) it is impossible to be selfish. You have to be empathetic, listen, and support the person you are in relationship with. It was a hard reality to face, but once I recognized my selfish tendencies I was able to grow and better support my boyfriend.
- In a relationship you have to learn that you are not the only one who struggles or gets hurt. Another naïve assumption I had about men is that they do not struggle with insecurities and it is impossible to hurt them. My Dad never showed emotion as a child and because of this I just felt like guys were impenetrable. I was so wrong. There have been times during my relationship where I will say something without thinking (it happens far more frequently than I care to admit) and I can see the light in my boyfriend’s face disappear. In those moments I know I have hurt him. I have also seen that my boyfriend struggles with insecurities too. He has past hurts, past hardships and he has fears of not succeeding just like I do. We so often talk about women and their insecurities, and the hardships that they have to go through, but we rarely talk about the struggles of men. But trust me, insecurities and struggles plague them just as often us they plague us ladies. I have learned to be more aware of my boyfriend’s emotions and now recognize the things that hurt him. I am better able to support him and lift him up when he needs that encouraging word, and sometimes we just sit in silence because he does not really want to talk, but he knows I am there and will support him, love him and pray for him as he is overcoming the struggle.
- Communication and forgiveness really are the key to a successful relationship. Like I mentioned earlier, I tend to shut down when I am upset, but if you are in a relationship this is going to be detrimental. If I am hurt or upset about anything, I have to discuss it with my boyfriend immediately. If I bottle it up, it’s going to explode into way more and that bomb will destroy the relationship. It is not always easy to open up, but 99.9% of the time I have come to realize it is just a miscommunication and whatever was done or said was not intended to be malicious or meant to hurt me, and vice versa. Through the communication I am also able to forgive freely and move on. The communication and forgiveness within our relationship only make our bond stronger. So friend, if you cannot talk to your partner about everything within your life, the good, the bad and the ugly, and forgive them for the good, the bad and then ugly, than the relationship will not be successful.
- Your partner will not, and cannot make you whole or complete you. I remember as a little girl, watching romantic movies and hearing the girls say that their fiancé or husband, whatever he was, completed her. I thought it was so romantic and sweet. Now I think it is gross. I want to be whole and complete all on my own. I have things I am passionate and in love with, that my boyfriend is not, just like he has his own passions. We can love and support one another within those ventures, but we each have our own interests that make us who we are. I love knowing that I am whole and happy all on my own. I am a strong independent woman, who does not need a man. Yes, I love my boyfriend, but if for some reason he broke up with me tomorrow, I would be okay. And yes, it would suck, and I would be hurt, but at the end of the day I am my own person. I have my own interests, I love my own things, and I will get through the sadness and hurts and I will still be a strong, capable woman. My boyfriend encourages me, supports me and loves me, but he does not make me who I am, he does not complete me, because I am complete on my own.
So girls, if you are like I used to be, and willing to settle for a loser just so you can get a giant teddy bear, or free dinner on Valentine’s Day, stop and reevaluate things. Remember, relationships are fun, but they also take work and they are never like the rom-coms we all love.
If you are not yet willing to realize you have flaws, and are not yet whole than do not rush into anything thinking the relationship will magically make everything better. Work on yourself. Find, and do things you are passionate about on your own. Because one day, your Prince Charming will come along. He may not be the Ryan Gosling character you were imagining, but I can assure you that he will be better and the relationship will be even more fun.