Less than a month ago, I got engaged to a wonderful man. And while you may expect me to babble on, and on, and on about his over-the-top romantic gestures, stunning features, and adoring acceptance of all of my quirks (and cellulite), I will not.
The truth is that some of those things are true, and some would be an overstatement.
Contrary to what Pinterest might lead us to believe, I think my relationship with my fiancé is a far more realistic and accurate depiction of what real love really means.
Real love, I have found, is about showing up day-in and day-out. It’s about supporting one another and supporting each other’s dreams. It’s about sticking together when there is a raise, or a layoff. It’s about knowing you share the same important life goals and values. It’s about believing the best of each other. It’s about being honest and open, even when the truth is not-so-pretty. It’s about being inter-dependent (not co-dependent or independent). It’s about feeling like the future together is full of potential.
And in a relationship filled with real love, in order to keep this commitment strong, we must work on ourselves. While it might feel easy to dazzle one another early on, it’s up to us to keep showing up each day as best we can. Real love trusts that if we strive to be our best selves, we can each find a partner who does the same.
So here are my three mantras going into this union with my Mister.
Accept that he will not complete you.
I know this might seem obvious for some. But regardless, I think it’s definitely worth reiterating: having a partner will not solve all of our problems or make us happy for the rest of our lives.
It is up to us to be happy, first and foremost.
Though being with someone can add to our happiness, they are not the keepers of our joy. And we should not approach relationships with the expectation that our partner’s actions will keep us in a state of constant swooning. They are imperfect people, learning life lessons along the way, just like us.
Work on yourself first.
Once we’ve accepted that Mr. or Mrs. Right is not going to be Mr. or Mrs. Everything, it’s up to us to work on ourselves.
Rather than seeing our partner’s flaws as something we must correct, we need to take a good, hard look in the mirror first.
This can be tough when we are supremely annoyed at a person’s willingness to leave clothes on the bedroom floor. But anything beyond honest communication veering into negative territory is likely to backfire.
And let’s be honest, there are probably habits that our significant others don’t love about us either. By working on our own issues and trying to become more considerate partners, we might just inspire them to do the same.
Or, if that doesn’t work, focus on key number one, and find a way to be happy despite his attachment to ESPN.
Seek the true rewards of relationships.
One huge aha! moment for me was realizing what relationships are really all about: teaching us to be more loving, compassionate human beings.
This is the end game of all intimate relationships. If we are able to love, accept, honor, and support another person as unconditionally as possible, we will be able to then share that love with our families, friends, and the world at large.
So when seeking a partner, remember that it’s not only about their personality—it’s also about becoming a better lover in the most real way possible.