Navigating Relationships and Other Advice For People Learning to Love

Relationships are something I have always struggled with. For most of my life, I chased after boys who were never going to reciprocate the love that I had for them. I was a hopeless romantic. Of course, there's still a part of me that associates with that term, but she is definitely a bit more hopeful now than she ever was. It took a lot of self-respect to finally allow myself to love and be loved by someone who would completely reciprocate the feelings I had for him. In the last two years, I feel like I have grown immensely as a person in a relationship, so I decided to encourage my Instagram followers to ask for any advice that they may be able to find within me. I am not an expert in relationships, but I think it is important to share mutual experiences or anxieties within a relationship to figure out how to cope with it. We all deserve to be happy with the people we love, but how do we get there? You asked I answered.


1. How do you go about finding a significant other? Anonymous

There are plenty of different ways to put yourself out in the dating world. Online dating, going on blind dates, and clicking with someone you just met are all viable options. In my experience, the third option is the best and often the longest lasting one. When you create your own connections, you are most likely hitting it off with someone you have realized you are compatible with. Blind dates work if the person who is setting you up with someone genuinely knows who you will have a strong bond with. Other times, it is to help out a friend who has desperately been looking for a relationship for a long time. Online dating usually works when you and the other person are completely clear about your intentions. Sometimes it doesn’t work due to the complications in communication. These complications tend to happen over instant messages or through a basic profile, both of which are not as authentic as getting to know someone face to face.


2. How do you take the step from a friendship to a romantic relationship? Nick L.

Honestly, this step is different for everyone. If you and a friend have communicated your reciprocated romantic feelings for each other, then there is a conversation to be had about moving from friendship to relationship. If you and the friend you have feelings for are one hundred percent on the same page, then going old-fashioned and officially asking them to be your significant other may be the best step for you. If you are just starting to explore a romantic relationship with your friend, begin to go on dates and spend more alone time with each other, away from any other friends. It is important to start to understand your friend on a deeper level if you want to make a more romantic connection with that person. No matter which of these situations you may be in, do whatever feels comfortable and appropriate for both you and your potential significant other. That is the most important aspect of transitioning from friends to more-than-friends.


3. Are high school relationships a waste of time? Paige P.

From personal experience, I wouldn’t know. I never dated anyone in high school, but before my current relationship, my longest relationship was when I was fourteen years old. I used to believe that it was a waste of my time for a few years. As I continue to gain perspective on what a healthy adult relationship looks like, I realize that my relationship at fourteen taught me a lot of lessons on what not to do in love. I also know a lot of people who have dated throughout high school and remain strong for years beyond it. Every relationship is different. If you find yourself in a relationship in high school that doesn’t last, be grateful for the lessons you’ve learned that can help you grow for your next possible relationship. If you end up staying with your high school sweetheart, that’s great, too. It just means that you two grew together rather than apart. To answer your question, I don’t think high school relationships are a waste of time. I believe that, regardless of the outcome, it is an important learning experience. If you are interested in someone, then you shouldn’t dilute your feelings to avoid “wasting” your time.

4. Is dating your high school sweetheart naïve if you are in love? Anonymous

If you are still very much in love with your high school sweetheart, then I believe you need to trust in the foundation that you have created with that person. It's one thing to drift apart from each other, which very well could happen, but it's also another thing to allow the judgment of society to make you feel as though your love is any less valid because you began dating in high school. Your love is perfectly valid and the only person who needs to believe in that is you and your significant other. Whatever societal strains that may be causing you to second guess your relationship should be ignored.


5. How do you open yourself back up to love after being hurt? Jacqui N.

This one is tough, mainly because this was an issue for me at the beginning of my current relationship. The short answer is to trust the person you are opening yourself up to. I know that starting again after being hurt by another person makes it hard to do so, but it is important to trust that this new person will not hurt you. Being vulnerable is the scariest part about any new relationship, but it feels a bit more difficult when your internal wounds may still be raw. You need to consistently remind yourself that your new significant other is not the same person as the one who hurt you in the past. It is unfair to someone else, who may also be in a vulnerable state in opening up to you, to assume the worst of them. Give them a chance to prove to you that they will not hurt you. Being hurt is natural in the progression of life. It helps you grow. Don’t run in fear of it.

6. I often overthink/overanalyze situations, any advice on coping/managing that? Anonymous

This has been an issue on my side of my relationship plenty of times. What I have done to manage it is to allow myself to let go. It's easier said than done, but when you do let go you don't worry or overanalyze anything. I think the best possible way to do so is to make sure that when you are overthinking or overanalyzing a situation, make sure to have a civil conversation with your significant other and remember to come from a mature place. Try not to come off as accusatory or as if you are blaming them for anything. Just express how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way, and ask your partner if they can give you any clarity on the subject. Communication is key in this type of situation and will help ease your mind.  


7. How do you know that someone is completely in love with you rather than using you? Megan J.

You'll know that someone is completely in love with you when they are invested in creating a bond with you and making you happy. When someone is only communicating with you or making time for you when it is convenient for them, then they may not be in love with you. Relationships are about prioritizing your significant other, not showing affection to them at your convenience. Both sides of a relationship also need to communicate where they both see the relationship going and how invested they are in the relationship. You two must be on the same page before you get too deep into the relationship and realize you both want different things out of it.


8. How do I get over an ex that broke my heart when I could never do the same to him? Anonymous

It truly comes down to acceptance. You have to accept that your ex is either no longer the person they used to be, or they were never who you thought they were. You know that you would never do what you did to him, and that makes you the bigger person in this situation. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a civilized breakup. If he couldn't find it in him to be a civil person, then you need to realize that you deserve to be treated with more respect than that. Once you accept that, you will be able to take the proper steps to get over him. Everyone has a different experience in getting over their ex, but I think the most effective way to do so is to learn to be okay alone. Create a relationship with yourself and start to respect yourself enough to the point where the disrespect he treated you with no longer affects you.

9. Do you have advice on how to make things work with different schedules? Elise V.

I know at the beginning of a relationship there is an urge to be together constantly, but it is a bit harder to do so when you both are running on different schedules. I think it just comes down to having a mutual understanding that you guys may not go through the steps of building a relationship as quickly as other couples who may have more compatible schedules. I always encourage people to take a chance with someone they have feelings for regardless of the complications that come with it. If you like someone, then it is worth working through all the knots and tangles of a budding relationship. Another piece of advice I would give you is to see if there is any time you both can put aside for each other throughout the week. It could be once, or it could be five times. If you are both willing to make a relationship work, then seeing each other for that specific time will be enough to get your relationship started.


10. How do I trust someone who claims that they are “one of the good ones” when all of the bad ones say the same thing? Anonymous

To trust someone who claims that they are "one of the good ones" you have to give them a chance to prove that to you. I know it is terrifying to open yourself up and put yourself in a vulnerable position after having bad experiences in the past, but you will never be able to find a “good one” if you don’t make yourself vulnerable. Relationships truly are trial and error. Showing someone that you can trust them from the start shows them that you will continue to hold that trust throughout the rest of your potential relationship. If you don’t give them your trust, it could negatively affect how the rest of your relationship plays out. If you open yourself up to them and they hurt you, then it is a lesson to be learned. It’s going to hurt, but in the end, it will make you stronger. If that person treats you in the way you deserve, imagine how happy the two of you will be together and think of the places it could take you in your relationship. No matter what, there are positives to the outcome as long as you look at it from a positive perspective.


11. How do you maintain a relationship? Nick L.

Maintaining a relationship is simple, but some people tend to lose track of how to do so when they find themselves too comfortable in a relationship. Something I always say is “keep the love alive.” Don’t forget to remind your significant other how much you love them. Remember to take them on dates, spend enough time with them, and overall just show them that you still value them as your partner. Far too many times, people become so comfortable in a relationship that they give up on making an effort to keep their significant other happy. Of course, relationships are supposed to be lighthearted and fun, but there are times when they won’t be. In those times, that is when it is most important to show that you are still fully committed to the relationship you are a part of. Keep in mind that this is not the only time you should be making an effort. You should always be making an effort to “keep the love alive.”


Some of these answers may feel a bit redundant, but that's because the foundation of a relationship is quite simple. Trust, effort, communication, and vulnerability are some of the key aspects of a healthy relationship. When you utilize each of these in every part of your relationship, you’ll see the best results.


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