Alex and I have been dating for over 5 and a half years now. Through the laughs, tears, and annoyances I have learned so much during our relationship. I've also learned how to annoy him with just a few pokes...skills I tell ya!
Here are a few things I've learned from the past five years with Alex.
1. Communication is Key
Obviously, it is hard to have a relationship without talking to each other, but what's key is talking things out even when they aren’t easy conversations.Talk when things get frustrating. Speak your feelings and don't assume you each know what the other is feeling. No one is a mind reader!
Alex is not emotional, and sometimes it's easier for him to stay upset or not acknowledge something is wrong. On the flip side, I can't stand the silence and prefer to talk things out. I ask the questions that are hard to answer and that helps to get us to a reasonable solution. I mean we are reasonable people after all.
Also, excellent communication can also mean nonverbal cues. Like knowing when it's time to leave a crowded bar or save another from long, unwanted conversations. Communication skills are essential, and both of you have to commit to it.
2. There is a difference between Unconditional vs. Conditional Love
Here is how I compare the two.
My grandmother loves me and will always love me. Sometimes I think even if I robbed a bank she would still adore me. (probably because I'm the favorite granddaughter ;) ) But that kind of love the "I- will- love- you- no- matter- what- love" was something I thought only she could make me feel, safe.
The other kind is basically earned. Which isn’t love at all. It’s like, well it's like only watching your favorite sports team when they win.
Not to boost my confident boy's ego, but that is something I have learned these past five years with him. You can love your partner unconditionally and I can let myself be loved. No exit plan needed. You can love them without fear. Alex is my best friend, I mean who else would go on a late night ice cream trips with me or actually keep my deepest secrets. He loves me unconditionally and I’m beyond glad that we are friends.
I would like to think that we make each other better people. In all seriousness, love is amazing but, unconditional "I will always love you" love is something worth waiting.
3. Never go to Bed Angry
Okay, I know this is a cliche, but seriously reread number one. Communication is key. If you don't solve the problem before you go to bed, it's still going to be there in the morning. Talk about it.
Hold each other accountable for this one. Don't hold a grudge because "they should have known better" or "you didn't do anything wrong so they should talk first", what we in high school? Be an adult and work things out.
4. Be Each Other's Support System
My first call when something at work goes well is Alex. Also, when I crash my car into a sign... I call Alex. Be there for each other good or bad.
When Alex was in grad school and working a full-time job, I tried to make things at home as easy for him as possible. I would make food for the week; I would give him space to study. I would force him to take breaks (reluctant but it was good for him!)
Big or small celebrate the good things with each other. You don't need to run out a buy a cake for every promotion or solid negotiation win, but just something simple as making their meal favorite for dinner or picking up flowers at the grocery store are kind gestures.
5. Change comes whether you invite it or not.
How you react to the change is the real test. Having the right partner to battle it with makes it a little easier. Change can be a job layoff, a sudden health issue, job promotion, or in our case a relocation.
Most recently Alex got this fantastic job offer that relocated him to Utah. Two whole states away from my home state, California.
California where I love my job, where my siblings are, where I've ALWAYS lived. While I always knew Alex would get relocated I wasn't expecting this would come when it did. When relocation was a consideration three years ago, I agreed to support and move with him. Fast forward three years later and now getting cold feet. He understands, and we agree it doesn't make sense for me to leave my job and move when even his time and Utah could be temporary.
We have a plan. We've communicated the plan. I'll stay in California. He will go to Utah. We will communicate, support and love each other. We are definitely each other's support system during this one.
These decisions did not come easy. And believe me, sometimes my emotional side wants to pack up my car and move to Utah. So you could say I'm still learning how to work through this one.
Are you in a long-term relationship? Maybe a long-term friendship? what are some of the things you have learned?