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Until recently, I’ve been a part of group chats, seen trending tweets, and watched countless shares on Facebook about how modern dating makes us all want to give up on love completely. Now, I don’t mean love like you have for your cat, your parents, or your best friends. I am talking about the type of love so many of us strive for. That old-timey, love story that you see in old folks sitting on a park bench, that you see in movies, or read about in books and articles.
But with the overwhelming reliance on Tinder, Bumble, and other dating sites, we feel like our only options to get a date are through mediums. We lose hope thinking no one has the gusto to introduce themselves in person anymore. Who is willing to be bold and say hello at a coffee shop while I study? Who will be chivalrous and hold open a door using the opportunity to smile and ask for my name while we get in line? Where is the surprise hand outstretched to me at a friend’s wedding asking for the next dance from the fella you’ve been gawking at from across the room all night? I want romance.
But every once in a while, I’ll lose so much hope that I feel defeated trying to fight for love, honesty and commitment. In those moments, we might begin considering “relatio-netflix and chill-ships” instead of what we truly want because it’s easier to find. In the end, we still end up disappointed.
So here are 10 little reminders I have devised to remind myself (and you, my dear reader) of what I believe in, what I will strive for and what I will never settle less for:
1. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Love the way you want to be loved. Don’t play games. Be kind, be soft, and be open. Ask yourself: If someone was treating you the way you were treating them, would you stay with them? Would you want to be with them? How do you want to be treated in this relationship?
2. Be honest and upfront with your wants and needs, no matter what people say.
Why waste your time on someone who does not want the same things you do in your future? If you want to get married and they don’t believe in marriage, are you going to spend all your emotional energy trying to change their mind? If you want kids, but they don’t, are you going to sacrifice your chance at having the family you’ve always wanted just to see if this relationship will make it?
Don’t shy away from making your desires known and illuminating that your standards are important to you. The right person will step up to the plate and will find your needs as equally important to them.
3. Be the friend/lover/partner you want to have.
This goes back to treating others the way you want to be treated, but this also focuses on the people you surround yourself with, too. When you’ve newly started dating someone, don’t forget about your friends who’ve coaxed you along through the entire process and way. Learning to be a good friend is vital to your future life partnership. After all, don’t we want our life partner to also be our best friend?
4. Respect goes a long way. Never date someone who is intimidated by your ambition.
If someone is scared to live a life with you because they see you going down two different paths, respectfully move along. You do not need that negativity in your life. The right person for you will encourage you in your ambitions AND be as ambitious as you are. They will be confident in your future together, regardless of what you are working towards. Compromises can be made to ensure everyone gets where they want to go with the one that they love. Remember: Your choices define you, but so do theirs.
5. If you do all you can for the one you love, you will always have closure.
This one is a toughie. Too many times I’ve watched my best friends cry over not getting closure. On the other hand, I’ve also been in a bad “new” relationship because this person could not or did not get closure. I consider myself lucky because I have always lived by #5. If I do everything in my power to make the relationship work, if I consistently love this person with everything I have, if I do not waver and if I am the type of partner I would want to have, then I have done everything in my power. I have done everything I could.
At that point, there’s absolutely nothing you could have done or said that would have changed the outcome. It would be up to your partner at that point to meet you halfway. But by living with this mindset, and knowing that you gave it your all every time, you will always have closure because there’s nothing you could go back and change.
6. Sometimes, we hurt the ones that love us the most because we know they will always love us.
Often in relationships, we lash out at our loved ones. This can be because we are at the point of feeling secure enough in the relationship that our s/o will not abandon us in our moment of weakness, frustration, or confusion, but not secure enough in ourselves to calm the fears our own head has created. Remember this the next time your s/o is being hurtful. Sometimes this is a cry for help. They are subconsciously trying to hurt you because they are hurting and therefore want you to understand how they feel. Is this the right way to go about things? No. But it is quite often the case in “under construction” relationships.
Note: be careful if this becomes a recurring issue. The pattern of handling insecurities this way demonstrates immature and sometimes toxic behavior.
7. When people deserve your love the least, is when they need it the most.
Again, carrying on from above, when someone truly does not deserve your kindness is often when they could benefit the most from it. I am a very (often to a fault) forgiving person, and I like to assume the best in everyone. I see their heart, and make my choices based off of that rather than their current actions and statements. I like to give people chances, because we all make mistakes and I hope in return I will be offered a second chance when I have done someone or something wrong. For me, every time I remind myself of #7, I can turn arguments into emotional discussions, heated debates into wall breakdowns and tears of sadness into tears of understanding.
8. Give your whole heart, for life is not worth living half-assed.
In sum, be vulnerable. This is the path to closure. Ignore everyone who says “guard your heart.” That is certainly the best way to never get anywhere in an emotional connection! How can you expect vulnerability from someone else, when you are not reciprocating? How do you get to a deep emotional connection by building a moat and drawbridge? Just give yourself to this love and see what happens. If anything else it will be a learning experience.
9. Communication is key.
Honesty is so important. Ask yourself: If I were in their shoes, would I want to know? And when? And how would I feel if those considerations were not met? And then consider what that person would actually want. Personally, I would rather receive the whole truth, even if it hurts a little bit, but some would rather live in blissful ignorance.
10. Life is a treacherous journey, but love makes the ride worthwhile.
Isn’t it crazy how you can look at a picture of someone who used to be your heart and soul, who used to be all you could see for your future and not recognize them? “Them” meaning that person that you loved with every fiber in your body and swore they were the love of your life. And maybe they were. But now when you look at them, in many ways it’s like seeing a ghost.
You remember the face, but it’s not as crystal clear. You remember the experiences together, but they’re faint, distant, and you remember less each day. Ultimately, you look at their face and you can’t see their smile, the way they looked at you with such love and admiration, the way you looked at them, so utterly happy you felt like you could die right there and never regret a thing. Now you just sit there looking at their photo, or walk by them and think:
“Wow. I literally used to know everything about you, and now look at us. I used to know what you had for breakfast, how your morning poo was, when you were in the shower because it was a certain time of day and you didn’t respond for a certain amount of time, your teachers names and the classmates you loved/hated, your parents work schedules and what holidays they’d demand to have you home for. But now, I know nothing and I don’t feel empty anymore knowing nothing.”
“If I see you in passing, I think you look good and happy. I am glad. But you are no longer mine, and I am no longer yours. You are with her and I love him. We are happy not together, something we never thought possible. So thank you for letting me get off that coaster and hop on this new one. I’ve seen more, learned more, and loved more, even if the ride was shorter.
And one day, you’ll find a ride that is so smooth it will feel perfect for you and it will feel perfect for the other person involved. You will want to stay on that ride forever. You’ll know the smooth ride instantly after being on loopy ones, and you’ll be thankful for every leap you took that got you there. That my friends will be your favorite ride. That is the ride we are all working to find.