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Thursday, 5 July 2018

What I've Learnt From Being In A Relationship

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A few years ago, I wrote this post. And haven't really touched on this kind of writing since. I could make this article short and pretty much sum up the title in one or two lines. What have I learnt? That in relationships you don't stop learning. And it's not perfect, as with everything else in life.



Okay there's more to it than that, otherwise what would be the point of writing this post? If you'd read my initial article, you'd know I didn't particularly go looking for a relationship, which I know sounds mad since I was on dating apps. If I'm being completely honest, I'd got pretty damn good at being alone. You know those family members that would ask the elusive question every year at Christmas about whether you'd "found someone yet?" or friends telling you "you'll find someone soon" - if anything it made me want to do the opposite. I guess the feminist in me rebelled. I couldn't quantify that society had this view that without being with someone I was without. So when it came to putting myself on dating apps, it took a lot of drive to interact with people, which was definitely a 100% real proclamation of "it's not you, it's me."



Fast forward a few years later and I've learnt so much not only about relationships but about myself too. I've changed as a person, which I hope for the better. I've learnt my boundaries, that I have a whole lot of emotions and that Gary Chapman's 'Five Love Languages' makes a lot of sense (not being sponsored by Gary, but seriously read that book). I've also learnt that irrespective of your emotions and expectations of your relationship, others will have these too, and will project them onto you at any given moment. If I had a £1 for every person who asked "when are you moving in together?" or compare it to how quickly they moved in with their partner/SO/whatever you want to call it, I'd be using those funds for a kick-ass two-week, no expense spared holiday abroad.



And I get it. I don't think people mean any harm, but sometimes justifying is tiring. And you can have those moments of doubt where you could bounce back fine from 10 comments but that 11th comment gets you out of the blue. As the old saying goes: 'Comparison is the thief of joy.' For me, I try and I use the word 'try' because it doesn't always work, to avoid comparisons, both made from others and from my own head. It's just like comparing your career progression to someone else's, the house someone lives in compared to you or something as minor as how put together your style is compared to the effortless outfits you see on Instagram. Instead, I think it's important to just focus on your own thoughts. The sassy single girl in me never doubted herself, so why do it now?



Another thing I've learnt is communication, or that initially I was pretty shoddy at it. For some reason, I can bring up issues or communicate if I'm hurt with my friends super easily. Yet in a relationship, apparently not. I wouldn't say the stakes are higher, as my friendships are highly valuable to me, but I guess I'm used to having those sometimes awkward conversations with friends, yet with the one person you're giving your all to, for me, is quite intimidating. I've learnt now how I want to communicate and aspects I want to work on. Because I'm definitely not perfect. I like to think I'm a good girlfriend, that I'm thoughtful and despite my initial hesitation of a relationship, I've whole-heartedly given it my all. But I'm a work in progress. Just as I am in every other part of my life.



It's hard sometimes to write the good stuff. It's easier to criticise yourself I find, rather than big yourself up, and especially in this situation where it's not just a solo examination. But I believe I've learned compromise and consideration. I've learnt to express my feelings, both good and bad, rather than bottle them up, to hopefully admit when I'm wrong and be an all-round good human. I've surprised myself at how open I've been with affection as the past me could be quite distant and play it cool. And sure it sucks when you get hurt, or heck if this whole thing goes tits up, but it's always better to feel something than run away and reject emotions altogether. From the other side I've learnt to feel safe and secure from by boyfriend, to feel loved by him and have a best friend and not just someone who I'm attracted to. I've learnt I'd rather stay in and scroll Netflix for 3 hours trying to decide what to put on, rather than go out. I've learnt loads of other good things but I don't want to out everything on the internet.




But what I'm trying to get at is that every relationship is so different. Just look at the ideologies we're exposed to growing up. Disney gives a warped view. And generally in life - one minute you're told if you have butterflies, you like him - the next there's a quote doing the rounds on the internet referencing (and I mean referencing, I'm not sure if it's true) the Buddhists that says "if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your knees go weak, that's not the one" and to instead look for calmness in your soulmate. So you can start to feel a bit lost. I've learnt constructive things these past few years but overall it's shaped me for the better, and I hope it continues to do so.




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