There’s a first for everything, and that applies to dating too.
First date, first kiss, first buying-presents-for-a-guy, and the list goes on.
But out of all those firsts, your first relationship will be the ultimate teaching tool on many things.
I’m currently in a very happy and healthy relationship with the amazing guy I call my boyfriend, and we celebrated our first anniversary last weekend.
But before entering this one, I was in a relationship with two guys, both of which ended because of serious conflicts.
I entered my first relationship when I was a junior in college and it was with an elementary school friend. I had been single up until then, so I agreed to become his girlfriend and vice versa.
I went into with the intention of making it long-term but cut to four months later and I found myself single again.
In the two years I was single, I reflected on why my first one didn’t succeed. Not out of regret or because I missed him, but to figure out what I needed to work on and look out for in my next relationship.
#1. Feelings can’t and shouldn’t be trusted.
Emotions are important and they shouldn’t be ignored, because they’re a part of who we are as humans and it is essential to our emotional health.
But you shouldn’t make decisions based on them, in anything, especially when it comes to relationships.
Feelings of love and infatuation can make us blind to red flags and hindrances instead of helping us be logical and to see things in perspective.
Whether it may be during the process of deciding to move it to the next level or to end it, do not let feelings be the reason for either.
I went into my first relationship because of the butterflies in my stomach and my longing to be with him.
But I learned the hard way that going into a relationship because you have that head-over-heels feeling for him, is a reason to not take it to the next level.
#2. Different core values and beliefs have more of an effect than we think.
My ex-boyfriend was an atheist and I’m a Christian. I knew that fact before we started dating, and I thought, Hey that’s not a big deal, everything else will make up for it. Boy was I wrong.
My faith is important to me and a huge part, if not the whole part, of my identity. I was going to church but I couldn’t talk about it with him.
When God revealed something or I came to an epiphany about something spiritually-related, I couldn’t share it with him. Even if I did, he didn’t see what the big deal was.
It doesn’t matter why you’re dating. Differences in core values and beliefs will put a huge strain on your relationship. If you don’t see that strain yet, it’ll pop up sooner or later.
#3. It’s healthy to argue over things that matter.
My ex and I never fought, about anything. That was something I prided myself on and took that as a sign that our relationship was perfect.
But then he blew up about something that annoyed him, something that had happened a few months back. Instead of doing the mature thing and telling me right then and there, he decided to hold it in.
Now that I’m in a better and healthier relationship, I realize that a huge sign that the relationship isn’t going well is that there hasn’t been any kind of argument over anything, especially if it’s been a long time.
Arguing shows that the two of you care about each other and the relationship. It teaches you how to resolve conflict with your S.O. It’s a good thing.
If you’ve been dating your S.O. for a while and you can’t think of a time when you’ve argued, it’s time to re-evaluate the state of your relationship with him/her.
#4. Take physical affection slowly.
I never kissed my ex, because I had no intention of going through with such an intimate act until I knew it would lead to something more.
I’m glad I restricted myself because it would have caused so many problems in the long run.
Physical affection is important: holding hands, kisses, hugging, etc. But let it happen gradually and don’t rush to do all of that with your boyfriend in a new relationship.
It may only cause you to see him in rose-colored lenses instead of seeing the raw, real version of himself.
It’s true what some people say about having sex too soon: it puts your feelings in overdrive and those emotions drive you to make a decision that is unwise.
Until you get to know your S.O. better as a person, deeper than shallow characteristics like hobbies and interests, don’t rush to kiss or have sex.
#5. Your independent-self can ruin your relationship unknowingly.
An interdependent relationship is healthy and it’s what we should all strive to maintain and be a part of. But even in my current relationship, I’ve seen my independent self being the cause to our conflicts.
It’s good to be independent and have a life outside of your S.O. but there is such a thing as being too independent and it doesn’t belong in a relationship.
If you aren’t willing to tone down your independent-self for a relationship, I’m going to be honest, you shouldn’t be in one.
Relationships are about compromise and taking into consideration your S.O. This doesn’t mean surrendering your independent self for another person.
It means having the right balance of it, one that can help and not hurt your relationship.
#6. You don’t need to share every single thing with the world.
With social media websites readily available and easy to access, at some point in our lives, we’ve all been tempted to share every single thing about our relationships or just our lives in general.
I used to be that way and it was until after my first relationship that I realized that it’s better to keep some things private.
A relationship is about the love that you share with your S.O. You don’t enter a relationship so you can show it off to everyone on Facebook or Instagram.
If you do, it may be time to make a pros and cons list so you can decide whether you like/love him or you like/love the idea of him.
Now that I keep many things private and share minimal with my friends, family and even on social media, it makes my current relationship that much more special and personal.
I don’t have to prove to the world that I love him or that our relationship is going well.
#7. But do let your loved ones in on your S.O. and the relationship.
And by loved ones, I mean your very close friends and immediate family members.
I didn’t tell anyone about my first two relationships until after I told them about my first very serious relationship with my current boyfriend.
I used to dismiss the benefits that come with people knowing about your S.O. because I thought, I don’t care what they think.
You shouldn’t base your decisions about your S.O. and relationship on what your friends and family think, but it’s important to let them know about who he/she is.
Yes, you shouldn’t care what other people think about your relationship, because you’re the one dating him not them.
But the benefits of letting your loved ones know about your S.O. is that they may be able to pick up some things about him that you wouldn’t be able to see yourself, because you’re bias.
This comes in handy in the event that they see something that isn’t healthy or good. That way, you’ll be able to address and resolve it as a couple.
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