I am 25 years old and have had one too many failed relationships. I am getting older and con not afford to fail at my next relationship. Please help me.
It is so hard to find true love these days or maybe it doesn’t exist. Maybe it is something that only exists in movies and novels. My ex and I just ended our 6-year relationship because we got tired and we promised never to get back together again no matter how weak or desperate either of us became. It was one issue after the other, break ups, make-ups and broken promises. Between the two of us, we just couldn’t make it work. We both agree that we are not perfect and tried several times to make it work but we always ended up where we started from –fighting.
I know a lot of ‘happy’ couples are not really happy. A lot of long-term relationships are just two people struggling to stay together and pretend they are happy and that is not what I want. I want to love blindly and not look back. I want to love the woman I am with and not worry about if she is cheating on me or loves me only because of the lifestyle I can afford.
What am I missing?
Hello Wale and Ula,
Relationships can be a tricky thing; love is not a perfect science. It does not thrive on specific logic or reason. There are certain concepts you should develop a thorough understanding of to not only open yourself up to love, but to attract the kind of person you are hoping will walk into your life.
Love Yourself First
This has been said a million times before and can be found scrawled across the pages of most relationship advice articles, but this is perhaps one of the hardest things for many of us to actually accomplish.
How can you expect someone else to recognize your worth if you do not recognize your own?
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? When you think about who you are and what you offer the world, what comes to mind? When you think about your goals, what do you have in the works, how do you plan to get there? Are you happy? If not, why?
Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly. Know who you are, love who you are. Understand what you bring to the table. If you struggle with this, take some time. It’s not about being alone, or unwanted. It’s about taking necessary time for you and developing the strength to do so with confidence. When you learn to stand on your own two feet, you will finally be able to stand beside another, as a whole person.
It’s not someone else who makes you whole; it’s up to you to do that first.
Know Yourself Enough Well Enough to Know What You Need in Someone Else
This point naturally follows the previous, because this cannot happen until you spend some dedicated time on yourself.
How often do you find yourself splayed lazily across a couch on a Sunday while you or your friends muse and complain, “Why do I always attract the wrong people? Why does it never work out the way I want it to?” or some version of that?
The key to attracting the right person and finding success in the relationships you pursue is to know yourself well enough to know what you need in someone else.
To put this in perspective, I once dated someone who I quickly realized was a poor match for me. While I am a very independent and strong-minded individual, she had an overly submissive nature. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but in terms of our compatibility within a relationship, we clashed entirely. She wanted to be a woman who did not tangible, just somebody I would come home to at the end of everyday and I wanted an equal, productive partner. She wanted a domineering and boyfriend, and I wanted someone who appreciated my sure sense of self and desire to do my own thing and did her own thing as well.
There was nothing wrong with this realization, it didn’t make either of us bad people, it was just the hard-learned reality. Except, she refused to accept it. The relationship had to end.
Basically, you have to have a very real period of self-reflection to say, “Okay, what can I honestly give someone else in a relationship and what do I need in return?”
Not everyone is a perfect match for you; you simply have to know yourself well enough to guide your attention and emotions in the right direction.
Find the Balance, Be Independent
Never expect to depend on your partner, fully.
While we invest ourselves in others, we should never expect to attach ourselves to them entirely. Relationships are about balance, give and takeand if you ask me, you should never make another person your entire life.
There is something to be said about the attractive value of someone who is able to go about his or her life on his or her own, un-phased and content, but also share it with someone else. Stop expecting to find someone else to drive your life.
Stop looking to need someone, or for them to need you.
Think about it this way; if you’re both co-pilots, what would happen if one of you left the cockpit? Would the whole plane go down?
For me, that means someone who is entirely capable, driven and content on their own; they require (by nature) time to work on their own goals, projects and passions. It means two people who have separate lives in which they are hungry and passionate, but are also able to come together at the end of the day and share it with one another.
You shouldn’t rely on each other to live, to make the other whole, but instead you make each other better. You should be a team. When problems arise, (which they will) discuss them, face them together. Communicate, be open, and be honest. When one of you experiences success, be happy for the other. Be proud.
You should support one another as two successful, independent individuals who share their lives with each other not because they need to, but because they want to.
Don’t Remain Stagnant
Relationships, like our lives, should be progressive. We are always changing, adapting, growing (or at least we should be) and if our relationships do not follow suit we will surely out grow them.
I know ambition may not seem like an important topic within relationship advice but it is. Remain hungry in your lives, your goals and aspirations and that growing, evolving hunger can naturally translate into your relationship as well.
The problem with many relationships is that they come to a grinding halt. Routines form, people become lazy or complacent, minds begin to wander. Of course, it’s hard to always keep things interesting, but I’m not talking about extravagant dates.
Stay attentive, stay focused and stay hungry. For both your goals, yourself and your partner. If you feel something is lacking, have the conversation. Communicate openly (note: communication is everything), keep the barriers down, always. But never stop growing, both separately and together.
Trust is Everything
How often do we hear about this and read articles about the importance of this but neglect it in our own lives?
Trust is everything. Truly.
It’s everything in the beginning of the relationship, the middle and the end. Trust, or the lack of, can very easy be the weakening fray that allows the whole relationship to snap apart.
What are they doing? Why haven’t they sent me a message? Where are they? Why did they say that? Why are they looking at that other person? Who are they talking to?
Listen to me, those questions will inspire an exhausting insanity in your mind if you let them.
If you make the conscious choice to share your life with someone, be with them. Will you always be physically with them, attached to them or talking to them? Absolutely not. If find yourself constantly doubting the person you’re with, you’re either with the wrong person or you need to take some time on your own to address why you are more prone to feel insecure towards those you love. What are you missing in your life? Why do you crave constant attention?
In a healthy, functional relationship, trust comes naturally. You know and trust that your significant other has chosen to let you into their lives, and they aren’t out to rip your heart apart. If you have a question, ask, but don’t assume. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t accuse. That should never be your first instinct.
You should have your own lives, and this should never inspire fear in the eyes of your partner. Again, this goes back to the topic of dependency above.
Don’t Expect Someone to Cater to You
Do not expect someone to always cater to you. This is not what makes a good boyfriend or girlfriend.
Some people may be more dependent than others but you should never expect a partner to drop their entire life for you or shape their whole life around you or more importantly, always be at your bidding.
To be true partners, you must be equals. You should want to do things for each other, not just for them to do things for you. Love isn’t about being selfish; it’s quite the opposite, actually.
Don’t expect anybody to feel obligated to take care of you. Take care of yourself. Don’t expect your partner to pay for everything you guys do, don’t expect your partner to plan everything and don’t expect to be with them every night.
This is the icing on the cake.
There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rain and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain.
There’s a difference between the couple that kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all.
There’s a difference between the couples that encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience.
The couples that make deliberate efforts on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection have the best and most enduring relationships.
Finally, ‘Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.