What My Boyfriend Taught Me About Dating

As Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I decided to write something about one of my favourite humans in the world. Instead of being an absolute cheesy-feelings monster, I decided I wanted to write about something that he has taught me— besides how to eat pizza wrong (he folds it…..).

It's easy to fall into a habit of reading dating articles when these holidays come around with titles like “10 Ways You Know It’s Real,” “Things You Should Never Do in a Relationship,” “10 Things I Wish I Did While I Was Single.” Relationships today are governed by these sets of rules, perpetuated through media sources aimed specifically at women. We are constantly reminded not to come on too strong, when it’s too soon, how to be great in bed, when you shouldn’t over react, when you should react at all, etc. I cannot say that these articles are all bad— I think that sometimes they help us to validate things we are already feeling, or values we already believe in.

That being said, what baffles me the most is the articles that suggest one of the rules to a “healthy relationship is to 'be yourself.'”

When reading these articles, and prescribing to the rules I’ve been told in my own relationships, romantic and otherwise, I didn’t realize how easy it is to sacrifice yourself in order to prescribe to the rules we are taught everyday in magazines, rom-coms, by our girlfriends. The most important thing that he has taught me, is that it is impossible to be yourself in a relationship if you are mandating yourself to social rules of “how to relationship."

We need to stop believing that there is any such thing as “too soon,” or coming on “too strong,” or “ways to know its real.” Your relationship with someone else should only be too truly, inherently genuine. Which means you must be truly, inherently honest with yourself, even though sometimes this can be scary. We have been taught to question our every thought, feeling and reaction in relationships. We constantly refer to media resources to see if we are correct in feeling angry, correct in feeling strongly for someone soon, correct to bring up something we may feel tentative about in a relationship. We haven’t been taught how to love, how to be happy in a relationship, how to simply be. We have been taught to overthink, question and doubt our minds, guts and hearts.

The best thing about my boyfriend, the best thing about us, is that there are no rules. He taught me how to just be. We laugh when we shouldn’t laugh, we talk about things that are probably “too soon.” We move fast when we feel the need to, we move slow when it feels right. We wear sweatpants on dates in places we DEFINITELY shouldn’t. We don’t move according to outside perspectives about how we should govern our relationship, we move according to us.

Yes, it has made our relationship AWESOME. But it has also changed things for me as an individual person. I have him to thank for that— for all of the times he has said “what are you really thinking,” for all of the times he’s said “don’t lie to me” when I respond to that question, for the times he has taken moments of silence to actually ponder what I have said and for all of the times he has looked at me stressing and takes the time to deconstruct my every fear, question and feeling (while making fun of me for my constant frazzled state). This is still something I’m working on being open and honest about—so bless his patience, because I have never felt this kind of opportunity to speak so freely what I am thinking or feeling.

I’ve learned that you owe it to yourself to make sure that you don’t hold back- the good things, the bad things, the scary moments of honesty. You owe it to yourself to be responsible for your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions— whether Cosmo magazine says they are appropriate or not. Until you trust yourself, you cannot grow to trust somebody else with who you are. Suddenly, I’m not afraid of my emotions, thoughts, problems, stressors, fears. I embrace them as mine and voice them when needed. Strangely, with him, I have learned, and I am still learning, how to be me.