My current partner and I have been dating for almost a year and a half now (yay!). And I can confidently say this is the first healthy adult relationship I have ever been in. While I never want to spread the myth that a healthy relationship is always sunshine and rainbows, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I am in relationships in terms of wants and needs.
Firstly, I’ve learned that being in a healthy relationship means being upset with your partner sometimes. But it doesn’t feel like the sky is falling whenever things are less than great. In previous relationships of mine, whenever a minor issue would arise, my anxiety and fear of the relationship ending would skyrocket. I could not focus on anything in my life other than the relationship situation. My partner and I don’t ever get into screaming matches. But when we don’t agree on something or have an off day, I don’t feel like I have to drop everything to save my relationship. I know that if my partner wants to talk to me about something that’s bothering him, he’ll tell me, and he knows the same is true for me. While I don’t want to be in an argument or have weird vibes, I know that I can still take care of myself and my other life responsibilities -school, work, clubs- and that we will find time to work through our issues.
Secondly, I’ve learned that a partner who wants to make a relationship work will make compromises. Of course, this has a lot to do with healthy boundaries. Like understanding that for your partner, x, y, and z are of high priority and knowing that’s not something they should be asked to give up. In the past, I always felt myself stretching very thin for romantic partners, to the point where I felt like their caretaker. You should take care of your romantic partner, but you’re also not their parent or therapist, and they should know that.
Thirdly, it’s just a lot of fun to have someone to share seemingly insignificant moments with. My partner and I both have the love language of quality time. So for us, driving to run errands together, or sitting silently on the couch watching a show, or making a meal together is really special. (On a side note, you should definitely take the love languages quiz if you haven’t, it’s better for more than just romantic partnerships).
Fourth, your partner and you should be able to admit when you’re wrong. For me, I will be jokingly stubborn about being right about the pronunciation of “gif.” But if my partner was correct about something contentious, or the outcome of an event, I will gladly admit it. On the flip side of this, my partner won’t rub it in if he realizes that he was correct, for he respects my opinion and perspective (even if I am factually wrong).
Lastly, and most surprisingly to me, being in a relationship teaches you so much about your self-motivation. I know the common phrase of “if he wanted to, he would.” And it goes for all people in a relationship. If you want to make a point to go on more dates with your partner, or be more generous with your time, or go on more trips, you will be able to make it happen. This isn’t a stand-alone effort, of course, but a good relationship will make that effort worthwhile. This skill also translates well into personal goals. When you know you’re capable of relational goals, it can give you motivation for your personal goals (like it did for me!). This is even further helped by the fact that my partner is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Not only does he tell me that I am capable of it, but I know he believes in me and will do whatever he can to support me.
I know none of these revelations are groundbreaking, but I write this article to tell y’all about my experience. You, in romantic or familial or friendly or roommate relationships, deserve respect and good treatment. Being in a healthy relationship is, unfortunately, not as easy as finding “the one.” It is all about knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie and being willing to put in the work for yourself and your partner.