They say love is a battlefield.
I’ve tended to respond, “well, screw that then.”
With all the battles big and small we’re forced to face in life, why would I voluntarily undertake more of them in an area which, ostensibly, is supposed to bring joy?
There’s a fine line between realistic about good relationships and resigning yourself to bad ones, which is where things like this come in:
Let’s see what advice Reddit has to offer.
1. Expectations and values
Not everyone will value your relationship like you do.
It’s VERY important to make sure you both have the same expectations and values; otherwise like two unequally yoked animals, you will continue to walk in circles over the same ground.
2. Don’t put it off
Putting off ending things for fear of hurting someone’s feelings is the worst possible idea.
If the relationship isn’t right and you know you don’t want to be together then sparing someone’s feelings in the short term only leads to more pain later down the line.
Be honest and front the horrible conversation
3. It’s crazy
Eventually love is not being “crazy in love” all the time.
4. The phases
Once you get beyond the initial lust/heart-fluttery part of a romantic relationship, you begin to realize that love looks a lot different than the rom-com movies. It’s not embracing in the pouring rain, kissing under the Eiffel Tower, trying to board the plane to convince them not to go.
It’s handing them a box of Cheez-its when they get home from a 12 hour shift and are too exhausted to move. It’s driving them to the airport at 3 a.m. for their dream job interview. It’s managing their prescriptions when they get too sick to do it themselves.
Relationships are often unglamorous and while a committed relationship can be very rewarding, there’s more to it than you and your hot partner canoodling and going on trips for the rest of your lives. Relationships can take a lot of work, some of it that you will never see coming in the early days.
5. Oxytocin dependency
Love (and the oxytocin dependency that comes with it) can keep people together through almost anything.
Including mutual abuse, suffering, boredom and misery.
6. Compatibility counts
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should be with them.
A relationship needs more than love
7. It takes two
It takes two to be in a relationship.
If one person is putting in all the effort and the other isn’t, it’s eventually all going to fall apart when the one who is giving the effort stops.
Great relationships are mutual.
They aren’t going to magically know you’re upset with them. They aren’t going to read your passive-aggressive signs. They aren’t going to pick up on that.
If you are upset, talk to your partner about it. Not your friends. Not you parents. Not strangers on the internet – your partner.
9. Know the signs
You should not be anxious about the relationship all the time. You shouldn’t be stressed about if they love you or if they’re going to leave you or if they’re out cheating on you or what they’re thinking. It shouldn’t be a major source of stress, in fact if it’s a good partnership both of your lives should be easier.
The old adage about relationships being hard work isn’t really accurate, being with them shouldn’t be hard or a battle. It’s more accurate to say that a good relationship takes effort, like you should both be striving for open communication, handle conflict in a healthy way, make each other happy but it shouldn’t be exhausting or hard or stressful to be with them.
They should be a source of comfort.
10. It’s up to you
Relationships do not have an instruction manual. Relationships are whatever the people involved want it to be.
Sometimes what your SO wants is drastically different than what you want. No matter how much you love each other, you might not get past the differences.
11. Not everything?
Love isn’t everything.
At least not “love” as most people interpret it.
I wouldn’t even say it necessarily “takes work.”
Two people can love each other deeply while being terrible for each other, treating each other poorly, etc. all the love in the world doesn’t compensate for lack of growth. If both people aren’t growing and evolving over time, if the relationship doesn’t foster growth and security, then love simply is irrelevant.
It should go without saying but you should always be on the same team, never adversarial.
12. All in the family
Familial relationships also need the effort that all other types get, or else they will fall apart.
13. What’s past is past
Everybody has a past life, history, things you may not like.
It’s easy to love all of their great experiences but it can be challenging to accept some of their past life that disturbs you or you worry may be a problem still.
A very challenging part of relationships is getting out of your head on who they used to be and focus more on who they ARE now and how they make you feel
14. Mutual responsibility
Loving someone and being loved puts you in a position of mutual responsibility – your actions affect the other person’s emotions and to some degree you are now accountable for how they feel.
You need to be willing to make compromises because you value your partner’s happiness and respect their needs.
A good relationship is built on mutual responsibility and respect and is not unconditional
15. Chew on that
I don’t know how hard to swallow this is, but you’re both eventually going to get older and fatter and accept it.
16. Ebb and flow
The eb and flow of it all.
As a teen you chase the butterflies high of relationships. As an adult you have to learn that as your hormones settle, you need settle too and not constantly be seeking the highs and creating conflict to achieve them. Even though the highs are addicting. You need to learn to be good with the chill times.. The comfort. The ease.
Don’t lose the butterflies completely, of course.. But don’t create them with negative behavior. Create them by pulling your partner in for a long passionate kiss instead of the normal goodbye or hello peck. Or by planning a date or a fun new activity to experience together. Keep eachother on your toes in a good way. But be ok when things are just as so.
17. Stay you
Losing your identity within a relationship is easy to do.
Finding it again isn’t.
Remember to keep your friends and hobbies.
18. Embrace the negative
At a certain point, you have to accept some particular negative parts of your partner’s personality or move on.
My husband is almost 50. We’ve been married for over 20 years.
While he will continue to experience personal growth, there are parts of his personality that are likely to not ever change. The same is true for myself, of course.
19. Sacrifice the fantasy
When you decide to commit to your person, you are sacrificing your fantasy of being with them.
In the crushing or beginning stages of a relationship, we are idealizing them as more perfect than they are. But we all have our faults, and in choosing to be together we are met with reality vs. fantasy.
(From The Fundamentalists podcast titled Engagement)
20. Good boring
A lot of it is boring.
The “magical moments” and massive “I love you so much posts” on social media are like 2% of the time.
A majority of a relationship is just everyday living. Your idea of a perfect relationship is the small sliver of it that tv, movies, and social media have led you to believe.
You gotta look forward to sitting on the couch in sweatpants after eating so much stir fry you’re both farting non stop.
21. Kindness is key
Your partner should be kind to you and vice versa. It’s not okay for your partner to scream at you or curse you out or deliberately hurt your feelings.
This isn’t to say that it never ever happens, we all are human and occasionally we mess up. But if they are not consistently kind to you, if they aren’t sorry when they are mean, and if they repeat it then that’s a problem.
If you wouldn’t accept the behavior from a friend then you absolutely should not accept it from a partner. The idea that it’s normal for your partner to be mean to you is so freaking bad and I’ve seen way too many people accept crappy relationships because they think love means never having to say sorry and that getting screamed at is acceptable.
22. No other halves
You can’t look for someone else to be your “other half”, you have to learn how to be a whole person on your own.
This means being able to take care of your own emotional needs, too.
23. Beware the rose
“When you look at someone with rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.”
It’s easy to dismiss toxic characteristics because of love. Sometimes you won’t get that clarity until you’re a safe distance away.
24. Failure is an option
Sometimes things don’t work. Even if both parties are objectively wonderful people. Even if they love each other and enjoy their lives together.
Sometimes things just get in the way and force you to make a hard choice.
25. Watch out for contradictions
Lots of people are actually looking for contradictions in relationships.
As Bo Burnham put it, you want someone insanely hot, but not someone obsessed with their looks. You want someone sensitive but not weak.
A lot of people want someone who won’t use them for anything, but who they can use themselves to fulfill their own needs or desires.
I think the worst part of growing up for me has been the utter realization that lots of people want to use who they can to fit their own ends. It’s not exactly always malicious, just practical; you grow more sensible as you age and so you’re less willing to tolerate relationships of any kind where you don’t derive some sort of benefit.
The result for me has been that I’m less trusting and more guarded which only hinders finding genuine connections in love or friendship.
26. No guarantees
People keep changing as their life goes on, and there are no guarantees that you and your partner will change in compatible ways.
Someone can be your soulmate today, but in a year the person they’ve become may not be the soulmate of the person you’ve become.
While you shouldn’t simply give up on a relationship the moment you hit a rough patch, you also shouldn’t let a happy past keep you in a miserable present.
27. Cheaters gonna cheat
If someone is gunna cheat, there is no stopping them by checking their phone, messages, where they go or whatever.
They r gunna cheat regardless
28. Right and wrong
Wrong person, right time is a thing, but so is right person, wrong time.
And sometimes things just aren’t meant at all.
29. No control
The person you’re going to “spend every day of the rest of your life with” will be the person who…
Is ok with you not wanting to hang out because you are hanging out with your friends or partaking in a “hobby day”.
Doesn’t get mad if you can’t interact with them 24/7/365.
Challenges you to be better…as a partner, at work, in your hobby, as a parent, as a friend…in literally everything. But challenges you not out of shame or self worth, but because they motivate you (this is a key).
Maybe doesn’t share your interests but is willing to listen to you discuss them.
And likewise, you do the same for them.
Relationships can work based on mutual respect and connection, but the person next to you might not be your “soulmate” – just someone you care about and get along with.
Well, that last one’s gonna happen whether your single or not, so.
What other bits of advice would you add?
Tell us in the comments.