Each relationship evolves at its own pace.
*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand, used with permission.
My partner was fresh out of a long-term relationship when things got super serious between us. I was admittedly apprehensive at first — and so was he.
We weren't unsure how we felt about one another, but we each had concerns about it being “too much, too soon.” At the same time, we were falling deeper in love by the day and getting along fabulously.
We soon discovered that although we'd come from very different backgrounds, we had many things in common. Our relationship provided a sense of ease and flow that had been missing in our past connections. And being together made us feel good about ourselves.
Of course, we had no idea if things were going to work out or not. Because like all things, in relationships, there are no guarantees. But this relationship has solidified my belief in Que Sera Sera (whatever will be, will be).
There are no boxes to check or timelines to follow. Each relationship evolves at its own pace. You could fall in love in an hour or 500 days, and a relationship could last for 5 minutes or a lifetime. You never know about these things — it's all a gamble with unknown odds.
There are a gazillion dating do's and don'ts, and even more, rules that tell you how to become Mr/Miss/Mx Right. The trouble is, nearly all of the dating instruction manuals and relationship rule books are based on one not-so-simple premise: Fear of Being Hurt (F.O.B.H.).
F.O.B.H. is normal. If you have ever had your heart broken, you know how awful it feels. And you also know that it can take an entire lifetime to recover — if you recover at all. But if you keep living, you will also discover that the degree of pain dulls over time. And while painful memories may never disappear, they do become less painful.
In a perfect world, you would never have to suffer that kind of pain again. But the truth is, you cannot experience radiance without suffering. And you cannot be happy without discomfort. There is no light without dark — that's just the way it is. The universe is sneaky like that.
Pain avoidance is not a strategy for happiness.
Going through life, trying never to hurt, makes for a perfectly boring life. I mean, there is no gain without risk. So if you risk nothing, what do you gain? NOTHING.
That's not to say that you should plow headfirst into a crowd of heartache. Should you be discerning about the who, what, and when's of dating? Absolutely. That's why you should:
- Date your species - in other words, date someone interested in the most authentic version of you (warts and all).
- Believe what they do - more than what they say. Because actions do speak louder than words. So when “someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
- Trust yourself - they say “fools rush in,” and that's true sometimes, but not always. Good things do come to those who wait, but they also come to those who don't. Timing is always divine. The best-case scenario will always present itself — which may or may not lead to a happy ending. But it will always point you in the right direction.
Relationship-ing is required
One of the things that I have come to know is, there are some things that you can only learn through romantic relationships. Not to say that other types of relationships are less vital — because they're all important. But some experiences and situations do not present themselves outside of a romantic relationship container.
Romantic relationships tend to be more confronting than other relationships. Why? Because romantic connections present droves of opportunities to be exceptionally vulnerable.
Here are three things you can learn through romantic relationship-ing:
- What you need - whether you learn from having your needs met or ignored, romantic partnerships help you to identify your requirements for fulfillment. And sometimes, you’ll find that what you need cannot be found in the relationship you're in.
- What you value - few experiences teach you more about your values than romantic connections. They point to what you're willing to sacrifice, where you're ready to compromise, and more importantly — they give your dealbreakers a name.
- How to self-soothe - love comes with ammo. The person(s) you love also has the power to hurt you — that's what it means to be vulnerable. It sucks, but it's true. And because it's true, love teaches you how to cope when the going gets tough. Which isn't always pretty, but it's always worthwhile. If your coping skills are toxic — love will point you in the direction of healing (often in a roundabout way).
Yes, these are things that you can learn elsewhere. Who knows why love connections make the hard lessons learnable, but they do. Romance will show you your strengths and magnify your weaknesses. Your most adorable parts are on display, and your unpretty parts will be amplified.
Experience is still the best teacher.
At the start of this article, I talked about the highlight reel of my relationship. But what I didn't say is that although our relationship is loving, it's also ripe with discomfort.
I have never had so many hard conversations. Our relationship is about 35% love, sex, laughter, and adventure. And the other 65% is juggling schedules, compromise, and talking — and talking — and talking — and talking — and talking. Did I mention talking?
Why do we talk so much, you ask? Because healthy relationships require copious amounts of communication. Which includes disagreements and mending fences, discovery and healing, memory creation, and consistently choosing to show even when it’s hard. Being in continuous dialogue is like taking a crash course in resentment prevention.
Every experience teaches us something new about ourselves and each other.
There is no wrong time to begin a relationship.
Life happens in exact order — without exception. So whether you are fresh out of a situationship or you’ve been single for the better part of a decade — there is no wrong time to begin a relationship, and there is also no such thing as being ready.
The perfect time is right now — but only if the opportunity presents itself. If it feels right and the other person is all-in, go for it. But, "if it doesn't fit, don't force it," because the only right relationship is the one where you feel good about being in it.
Originally published at https://medium.com