When I was 13 years old, the summer before my freshman year of high school, I did a program to take gym class for six weeks over the summer to avoid taking it during the school year. I highly debated it because my birthday fell directly in the middle of the program. It would be the first time I had ever had to go to school on my birthday, but I decided it was the smartest decision for my plans. I show up, and the first day there, I noticed a boy from another school. I had never seen him before but automatically felt like he was special. He was cute, athletic, you know, all the things a 13-year-old would like in a boy, especially a boy that was two years older. I found him on Instagram a few days later and being the bold soul I am, I reached out and started a conversation. Long story short, we sit here today at 19 and 21-years-old looking back on how we managed to make the last five and a half years last while still loving and respecting each other. Being in a consistent relationship for my entire high school career and almost my entire college career makes me believe that I’ve done a thing or two right in the world of relationships. That being said, here is my ode to you in regards to what makes a relationship thrive. [bf_image id="t8r3gm8jp6qcmr7zcvkn94q4"] First and foremost, listen. Not only to your significant other but yourself. Think of it as internal communication, in a way. For example, if you believe you’ve upset your partner, take the time to think of the best way to approach fixing it. Do not jump into an argument for the sake of jumping into an argument, because in my relationship, one thing I have learned is to understand is how precious time is with one another. Consider how you have hurt them, if that reason is justified, and most of all, remember how you feel about them. If you know you love them, and they love you, you can come to an understanding about what has happened and whether or not an apology is in order. On the other hand, if they’ve upset you, you have to consider where to go from there. Do you believe you deserve an apology? Do you feel comfortable telling them they hurt you? All those internal thoughts should guide you where you need to go, regarding the situation and the relationship as a whole.
The next essential thing I have found in keeping a relationship at its prime is getting rid of the thoughts in your head that tell you that they are leaving. Do not get me wrong; if you are experiencing red flags and feel like they are not providing you with the right energy, then many reevaluations need to occur. However, if your significant other has spent your entire relationship providing you with the love and respect you all have mutually shown one another, do not risk the relationship falling apart because of the thoughts in your head that tell you that they do not love you and you are just a nuisance in their life. It is simply one of those things that hurts you both. Keep reminders in your head that says:
“I am loved.”
“They love ME.”
“They WANT to be with me.”
Something about those reassuring thoughts running on repeat in your head really works wonders. I would be lying if I said even after all this time, those reminders don’t help me. Keep in mind your partner is human, and they know you will have bad days just like they have bad days. They acknowledge that relationships sometimes have bad days, and sometimes you’ll spend the entire day irritated at one another for no appropriate reason. I’ll end this section by saying this; if you make that choice at the beginning of those bad days to continue to work through the relationship, I really think it speaks volumes. [bf_image id="v34fvhxcs2jmrqnknmpj8"]
Support one another during not only the good but the bad as well. That may be a typical suggestion, as I know in marriage vows one usually states ‘for better or for worse’. However, in this case, start thinking of the smaller things you can support them with. Be there for them when they fail a test they have studied all week for the same as if they had just gotten the internship they really wanted. Be there for them when there is nothing to talk about, just the same as much as when you can’t stop talking to them. Being that constant presence of love, support and compassion in their life will not only show them how lucky they are, but it will be a sweet reminder of how much good you want to come into your significant other’s life. By reminding one another, verbally and nonverbally, that you are there for one another for all their accomplishments through life, it gives that mutual confirmation that you’ve got each others’ backs.
I know this is such a common snippet of advice that everyone always says, but I would like to elaborate a little on it. As we always hear, relationships are a choice that you wake up every day and choose to be a part of. It is something that has continued to resonate with me and my half-a-decade-long relationship. If we didn’t wake up every day and want to stay together, where would we be? You have to take in each day, from that first ‘good morning’ text to that ‘goodnight, I love you’ text. Know in your heart you want those same texts the next day, and the day after that. Sit back and see the potential of what you have between the two of you, and realize, “wait, we’ve got a good thing going here!” That positive energy, if reciprocated between the two of you, will help your relationship flourish in all aspects and keep the spark alive for the months and years to come.
I want to point out that I know I have gotten extremely lucky to find someone like I did. However, I believe none of this would have been possible without these tips. I know that given a different situation ,this advice may not help everyone, but I do believe it will give many people hope and possibly inspiration to work through their current relationship that they see so much potential in. My boyfriend is my best friend and always has been. We have worked hard at plenty of things in our lifetime, between academics and other real-life struggles. I am forever grateful we both continue to see hope in what we have going. I know the good thing we have going will pay off at the end of the day, and I look forward to what the future has in store for our relationship as well as all of yours.
Love you always, ALB.