There’s no list of commandments when it comes to love and relationships. But there’s at least one thing you should never do, regardless of who you are—or what you want out of life.
Don’t date someone who doesn’t believe in you.
Don’t fall in love with someone who makes fun of your ambitions. Don’t live with someone who belittles you when you talk about your dreams, no matter how incredible they sound.
And definitely don’t marry them.
Instead, be in a relationship with someone who keeps you grounded and realistic, but optimistic. Be with someone who doesn’t roll their eyes when you try to carve out personal time to work on things that matter to you, and your vision of the future.
You need someone to keep you real, not small.
We spend a long time thinking love is about finding someone we’re attracted to who finds us attractive. We think it’s about laughing at all the same jokes and having great sex.
Lots of people fit that criterion.
The harder thing is finding someone who believes you can do what you put your mind to. Without that, the rest is just fluff. It’ll cave in sooner or later, and you’ll have internalized their doubts.
You want someone who keeps you real with yourself, not small. You want someone who lets you do the same for them.
The world has enough skeptics.
You’ll never run out of people to prove yourself to, over and over if that’s what it takes. You don’t need all of your friends to support everything you do. Even your best friends can surprise you with their doubt and cynicism, especially when things aren’t going your way. But when they are, they can also come down hard. It’s fine. You can forgive them.
Love is different.
When you choose a partner, you’re sharing more than drinks and dinner. You’re going to see them when you wake up, when you go to bed, and plenty of hours in between.
You can’t afford for that person to doubt you.
Loving someone who doesn’t believe in you is like drinking poison, one tablespoon at a time. It’s about more than the arguments and big decisions. It’s about the daily dismissals. It’s about the shrugs, the sneers, the passive-aggressive remarks every time they catch a peek of your true desires. It’s about having to hide everything you find purpose in. It’s about having to pretend to be a different person around them.
Nobody can love you unless they love your dreams. Make them non-negotiable, because that’s what they are.
You owe it to them.
Someone who doesn’t love your dreams only thinks they love you. They’re not seeing your whole portrait.
Over time, the person they think they love will wither. Don’t give them the option of making a fatal mistake.
Some of us have learned this lesson from breakups.
Maybe we learned the lesson from family who told us we were delusional to want what we wanted. They told us we’d never get there. They made jokes about our ambitions. They spent hours judging us, sometimes from afar. Or maybe they just cut us loose and watched us fight through all the obstacles ourselves. Either way, we won.
Tolerating your dreams isn’t enough.
Some of us spend our 20s dating people who only tolerated our dreams. They did it because we were nice to look at. They assumed we’d eventually give up like everyone else. We didn’t. That irked them. They started to get more vocal about our looming failures.
They tried to discourage us, speaking from a place of false wisdom. Or they just laughed at everything we did until we couldn’t help but feel small, a little pathetic in their presence.
All of these relationships ended.
No matter what you try, a relationship can’t survive doubt. You can blame the breakup on something else like cheating, or some vague notion of incompatibility. That’s a lie.
The truth was obvious.
You can’t love someone unless you believe in them.
Nobody told us we have to believe in someone in order to love them, or that they have to believe in us. We had to figure it out.
This probably should’ve been written down. But even if it were, I wonder if we’d believe it until we lived it.
There’s a harsher truth . . .
Sometimes you have to achieve your dreams first.
If you can’t find anyone who doesn’t believe in you, don’t settle. Focus on your dream. Until then, there’s no point in trying to love someone. The only thing you’ll do is diminish yourself.
You might have to prove yourself to the entire world before someone else believes in you enough to love you.
You wouldn’t be the first person to do that.
Nobody can read your future.
Tarot cards and horoscopes don’t work. Besides, knowing your future always changes it. Nobody can predict how your life will turn out.
Not even you.
When someone loves you, they’re not believing in a future. They’re believing in the person in front of them.
Happy couples believe in each other.
The happiest couples you know are the ones who believe in each other’s dreams. They might not be the most financially stable or relaxed. They might struggle. But they struggle together. They believe in each other. They trust each other’s ideas and advice.
Someone who loves you never says “Maybe you should give up.” They never say, “I think you should quit.”
They say, “Maybe you should try something else.”
They say, “You’re good at lots of things. Give something else a shot.” They say, “Maybe you need a break. You’ve been working too hard.”
That’s the language of someone who believes in you, and anyone who believes in you also loves you.
Someone who doesn’t believe in you isn’t worth it.
Don’t give up something you love just to be in a relationship.
And when you find someone who believes in you, appreciate how special they are. Show them they matter.
Don’t use someone’s love as an excuse to invest less in the relationship. It’s easy to take someone for granted, to leave them waiting for you while you’re busy working away on your dreams.
Someone who does is worth everything.
Someone who believes in you is worth a few headaches and inconveniences. It’s not easy. The smallest compromises feel like enormous sacrifices on a weekend afternoon when all you want to do is rest.
But you don’t get to opt-out.
Someone who believes in you is a gift. Don’t sabotage that relationship. Build it. Nurture it. Take care of it.
A healthy relationship happens when you believe in each other’s dreams and support them, even when it’s hard.
You can spend years looking for someone with the right hair or the right body. None of that lasts for too long. In the end, what you have is the life you build with each other, based on what you really want — not just what you pretend to want. You’ll know when you find it.
Protect it with everything you’ve got.