It’s officially cuffing season. Meeting turns into talking, talking turns into dating and dating turns into commitment. Each of us has our own preferences, types and interests, but there are foundational things that help build a successful relationship across the board. Most of us can agree that we want to date someone who we’re physically attracted to and who also possesses qualities like loyalty, honesty, kindness, empathy, discipline, ambition, patience and more. While these things are definitely critical to a successful relationship, establishing a good foundation truly determines the trajectory of your relationships. These are a few of my top tips for building solid foundations for romantic relationships.
- COMPATIBILITY OVER CHEMISTRY
Compatibility speaks to the ability to interact with someone without conflict. Chemistry speaks to a very detailed psychological connection between people that usually reflects itself through emotions. While chemistry is surely an important component in a relationship, it should not be the sole determinant. It’s very possible to have chemistry with someone but not be compatible with them. This is how a significant amount of toxic relationships start. You’re drawn to the person, connect with them, find them attractive and then jump right in. Compatibility doesn’t mean that you two have to be identical. It’s a good thing to have a partner that compliments you, not mimics you. Compatibility speaks more to values, goals, foundational beliefs about life and purpose. Relationships should have a purpose. Something should be being built that hopefully is bigger than just you two. This might be building a life together, accomplishing a common goal, or dreaming big together. Compatibility over chemistry prioritizes the longevity and depth of the relationship by being wise and practical about the values you two might share.
- CHOICE OVER EMOTION
Most of us, definitely myself included, grew up in Disney movies and fairy tales where love was something that just happened to us. It was presented and packaged as a magical moment or experience where it found you and you immediately knew when it did. Love just hit you like an arrow and all of a sudden you were just consumed with it. Unfortunately, that is not quite how love works. Is it an incredible, cloud-nine experience at times? Yes, most definitely. You might feel like you’re dancing through a sunset of golden clouds and sweet melodies. However, love is much deeper than an emotion. It’s a choice. I could still love my boyfriend and get into an argument with him. I can even be frustrated or angry with him. That does not change the fact that I love him, because my love for him is not based on my ever-changing emotions. It’s based on my daily decision to love him, to choose him, and to cherish him. Relationships are sometimes messy. There will be times when your person disappoints you, frustrates you, or even hurts you. It’s up to you to discern whether your love for them is situational or constant. Please — of course — use wisdom about limits and boundaries on the things you’ll tolerate in a relationship, but do not forget compassion, grace, empathy, patience, and the ability to choose. Choice over emotion speaks to a deeper love than the honeymoon phases of life. It speaks to a commitment to someone that holds true regardless of the many highs and lows of life and our own emotions.
- TRUST OVER CONTROL
I can definitely lean more toward being Type A. I like my schedule to be penned out, my study routines to be in order and my whole apartment to be organized the majority of the time. To put it plainly, I like to have control of things in my own life. This means I oftentimes strongly dislike unpredictability, obscurity, and rejection. I’m on my own journey of learning to let go of this complex habit. I’ve learned that in relationships, you oftentimes cannot always hold the reins so tightly. My fear of being hurt by the unknown has even caused me to put walls up. I had to learn that there is a big difference between walls and boundaries. Walls are built from trauma while boundaries are built from wisdom. Trust is one of the main pillars of every relationship — without trust, growth, and intimacy cannot happen. Building trust in a relationship is cultivating reliability and confidence in both you and the person you’re dating. If my boyfriend never gave me a reason to not trust him, then why would I torture myself with evasive thoughts of betrayal and doubt? A lack of trust can oftentimes be rooted in past experiences where expectations were broken and hearts were shattered. Believe me, I understand that it can be terrifying to trust again when someone so close to you has broken that. But — the new person is not your ex. Everyone deserves to be seen with fresh eyes if they haven’t given you a reason to doubt them. It’s important to know that trust goes both ways. If you want loyalty in order to trust him, then you must also be loyal. Trust in a relationship is letting go of past hurts, the desire to control outcomes, and the unrealistic expectations or assumptions of the other person.
Relationships are beautiful gifts in life and we must be intentional when we choose who we want to date. It is important to remember that if you’re not happy with yourself first, a relationship will never fix you. It should be an amazing addition to your life, not the completion of it. Your value is not based on your relationship status, but simply on you being you. Before applying any of these snippets of advice, you must first know that you are worthy of receiving healthy, wholesome love. These three relationship tips have been extremely helpful in my own life and I hope they will help you all in your journeys to love. During this season, whether you’re in a relationship or single, always remember and treasure your value.