For years I dreamed about when I would finally find it. That healthy relationship, the one that would make everything worth it.
Well, after years of self-reflection, personal development, and a series of toxic relationships — I finally learned how to cultivate and have a healthy relationship.
As I write this I’m sitting in the house where we live. The puppy we just got together is prancing around the living room and trying to take chunks out of our new coffee table when I’m not looking. According to everything I was told we have “made it.”
I am not saying this in order to complain. I am so thankful for my life and my relationship, both for which I have worked extremely hard. However, it has been quite a journey and there are many things that I didn’t expect when it came to a long-term relationship.
#1. Some days will feel like you are in a rut
During the honeymoon phase, everything is so new and exciting. That was something that I loved about the beginning of a relationship. I never really wanted to stick around for what came next because it was never pretty.
In this relationship, it’s different. There haven’t been any reveals or a moment when I’ve realized that my partner has deceived me. I trust him and our love and that’s something extremely rare.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was how easily things can feel stale. The feeling is so subtle but creeps in. I didn’t realize it until a few nights ago when we sat down to watch TV and my partner suggested we play a game with some love language cards and a glass of wine.
We ended up doing that instead, and I marveled at the difference it made to actually spend quality time together instead of staring at a screen.
#2. Sometimes you will miss the magic and adventure
There was something magical about young love and throwing yourself into a relationship without fear of falling.
When we get older, we often enter relationships with scars and baggage. We can deal with it, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take a lot of hard work and perseverance to overcome.
There are moments when I miss that sixteen-year-old girl that went on a midnight ride with her cute neighbor and got a good night kiss that gave her butterflies for the first time.
Those moments have a sort of magic that I don’t believe you can get back in the same way.
#3. There will be times when intimacy looks different
When I heard friends talk about their sex lives and how they were with their partners I used to feel horrified.
I don’t want to get into details, but I will say this. Intimacy ebbs and flows when you are in a long-term relationship (especially in COVID-19 times when you are together 24/7) and I doubt there is an exception to that rule.
What surprised me was how we are intimate in little ways throughout the day. I’ll be doing the dishes and my partner will rub my shoulders. In the morning he makes sure that the coffee is made and that my cup is ready with my favorite creamer.
Intimacy can’t be all about the physical side, it isn’t sustainable. But I wouldn’t have believed that five years ago.
#4. You may miss living with roommates
Last year at this time I was living with my best friend. Although my partner and I had been together for some time I wanted to take my time before we lived together and to be frank, I loved living with my best friend.
Now, I was lucky because not everyone likes their roommates even if they are a friend but I loved mine. There are moments when I miss living with her so much. We both do. That isn’t to say that we aren’t happy with our partners but there was something so special about those times.
During the last few months of us living together, I would come home from work, we would make dinner, watch our favorite shows, and talk until it was time for bed. That time was precious and we knew that it was the turning point before we began the next stage of our lives.
#5. It will never stay the same
This is something that both terrifies me and excites me about love. It doesn’t stay the same. It is ever-evolving and changing and you are either growing with your partner or you are growing apart from them.
My relationship doesn’t look the same today as it did six months ago. It’s going to look different six months from now, and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that because I want to grow as a person individually, and with my partner.
When I was younger I tried to hold on to my relationships so tightly because I was afraid that they would slip through my fingers. Because I did so, they would end up slipping through my fingers.
Relationships and love are complicated and I’m by no means an expert. But I learn more and more about how to love every day and although it’s complex and at times incomprehensible, it’s something I would never want to live without.