Healthy relationships exist and can be beautiful and fruitful. If you’re ready to be in a relationship, here are some truths you should know about what it entails and what true love is all about.
Having been single for 22 of the 24 years I’ve been alive, it’s fair to say that I have experienced the single life thoroughly before entering a relationship with my boyfriend.
There are pros and cons to both, and it really all boils down to what you’re looking for in that particular season or period of your life.
Being single was liberating and full of adventures, but being taken has come with its own set of adventures, benefits and personal growth. I thought I knew all about relationships and what they entail, but boy was I wrong.
There’s no better teacher than experience, but since it doesn’t hurt to be aware and have a heads-up about how different the lifestyle is, I’m here to share what you, as a single woman, should know about relationships.
1. Relationship is based on a solid foundation of friendship
You should not only love the guy you’re with, but like him too. Having a solid friendship will get you and your boyfriend through the tough times because that’s usually when neither of you will feel like loving each other.
Even though my boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship, our deep friendship is what keeps us connected and bonded to each other. If we hadn’t been friends before we started dating, it would’ve been harder to maintain it.
Being great friends is also a way for you to determine whether or not the guy is right for you. If you’re religious and he’s not, that’ll be a problem down the line. If you’re looking for someone who doesn’t do drugs or drink, and he does, then he’s not the right guy for you.
2. Love is a choice, not just a feeling
Emotions are important in a romantic relationship, but they shouldn’t be the driving force of it because feelings come and go. There will be times in your relationship when you will start doubting or won’t feel like loving your boyfriend. That’s normal and that’s when you have to choose to love him or ditch him.
My boyfriend and I practice the act of choosing to love each other on a daily basis through the small things. During times of conflict, we choose to love by giving forgiveness freely and doing things to make up after we’ve resolved that specific problem. We put each other’s needs before our own and do our best to express love in different ways.
Now, this may drive you away from entering a committed relationship, but granted that it’s reciprocal, choosing to love someone daily is a beautiful and admirable thing, then to have the relationship being driven only by emotions—one that is based on passion and strong feelings will not last.
3. It takes two to tango, and actions should back up words
Healthy relationships are reciprocal and require both people to be involved and invested in the relationship. That also means that actions should back up words, because even though words are very important and have a lot of effect, they are empty without the actions. Make sure the guy you’re pursuing can walk the walk as well as he can talk the talk.
Because my boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship, it’s especially vital that we do this. Despite the distance, we’re able to instill romance daily through the small things.
The actions that back up our words include sending an encouraging text in the morning, and making the time to talk with each other even though we’re tired at the end of the day.
If you find that you’re always giving and he’s always taking, don’t panic and don’t resort to breaking up. It’s time you have a serious discussion with your boyfriend about why this is happening, and come up with ways to make sure that there’s a balance of giving and taking.
If there’s progress and he puts in the effort, great! If not, then you can consider breaking it off.
4. Independence is important, but you’ll have to learn it
When you’re single, you don’t have to think about anyone else; that’s one of the perks of not being in a relationship. But, when you’re with the right person, relationships can be beautiful and rewarding.
Part of being in a relationship is compromising and also sacrificing a bit of your independence because you should know how to depend on your boyfriend to an extent.
My boyfriend and I are independent people, and that’s what makes our relationship healthy and happy! When we started dating, though, it became a hindrance for us because it kept the relationship from growing and blooming.
Co-dependency is not healthy, but you and your boyfriend need to know how to rely on and lean on each other during the tough times.
If you’re having a bad day or a difficult period in your life, it’s okay and recommended that you lean on your boyfriend for support and love and vice versa.
You are not meant to live this life alone and you are not expected to know how to figure out the solution to every hardship or difficulty in your life.
5. Communication is key
No matter how much your boyfriend likes and loves you, he is not a mind reader, and neither are you! If you’re angry, talk it out, don’t be passive-aggressive and don’t give him the silent treatment. If you think that he’s not spending enough time with you or you don’t feel like you’re a priority to him, tell him.
My boyfriend and I grew up handling conflict differently, so communicating my concerns to him was difficult and it took some time for it to become the norm for me.
I’ve become a lot better at it now, but there are still times where I’m tempted to just leave him to guess why I’m upset instead of telling him. Communicating with each other has saved us from petty arguments, and it helps us to cultivate honesty in our relationship.
If you’re like me and have grown up in an environment or culture where feelings are suppressed or where conflicts are shoved under the rug, start being open with the small things.
Remember that this is a process and it’s going to take time for you to be completely transparent with your boyfriend, and that’s okay.
6. Abusive relationships are not worth fighting for
Although I haven’t been in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship before, I have witnessed a number of them from old friends and have gone out on dates with emotionally manipulative guys in college.
I learned the hard way and now believe that a relationship with emotional, physical or spiritual abuse is not worth fighting for.
My senior year of college, I went on a series of dates with a guy who was nice at first, but the more we talked and hung out, the more I saw his manipulative side.
He tried to get me to ditch my morals, even after I was upfront about them. I liked him a lot, but I came to my senses and realized that he was not worth pursuing and fighting for.
Relationships take work, but they are not filled with drama and abuse. If you are currently going on dates with a guy and see red flags, let him know that you do not want to pursue him romantically.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, please seek support from family and friends, and seek professional help. You can get out of it and restore your health.
Healthy relationships are beautiful, but it takes effort from you and your boyfriend, and a series of wise choices. If you’re a single woman and think you’re ready for a relationship, remember that healthy relationships should promote growth, love and respect.
Have you been in a healthy relationship, and is there anything else you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!