What it takes to have a healthy relationship & what I’ve learned to make them work
How to have a healthy relationship and what I’ve learned from dating and relationships – admittedly, this topic has been a long time coming… I’ve received a number of requests from my friends on Instagram to share my experience when it comes to dating and romantic relationships (thank you – you know who you are) and I’ll be honest, it’s taken me many months to sit down and write on this topic simply because I just wasn’t sure of where I should begin… I thought I simply had writer’s block but I think it was just timing. The Universe has a way of working its magic and I say that because there were epiphanies I have experienced since, which has inspired me to formulate this post today.
So what does it take to have a healthy relationship, especially in the age of social media where anything is readily available? You know what I mean…
Does anyone really know what it takes anymore?
In my personal experience and by observing my environment (family, close friends, colleagues, etc…), I’ve noticed a theme, and I use that word loosely here, to relationships and dating and that is that we are all learning from our experiences, from doing and trying and failing and winning. This is the beauty of life; that we are all here to have different and at the same time wholly similar experiences in life. The aches, pains and joys of opening up our hearts to sweet, tender, vulnerable, transcendental and evocative love. *cue a gif of Romeo & Juliet here*
I like to think that in this stage of my life (why am I making myself sound old?), I have had my own share of relationship ups and downs to share some of my thoughts on healthy and unhealthy relationships. Here’s my two cents on what I’ve learned about dating and what it takes to have a healthy relationship, social media or not.
Now, the first thing that comes to my mind on this topic is that it is absolutely crucial to love yourself, first and foremost, and before you even think about getting into a relationship with someone else, if possible. It’s nearly impossible to fully know and understand yourself at an early age and such is life that we do not learn important facts about ourselves until we’ve experienced “life”. I am the perfect example of that. These bits of knowledge I’m sharing with you did come to me after much heartache of my own. Interestingly enough, I’m (now) grateful for the heartaches, the disappointments and the pain because they have made me much stronger, resilient, patient and understanding when it comes to relationship dynamics, human psychology and of loving others.
The love I have for myself has helped heal and form me into a whole and unified person, and it is as this whole person that I feel that I can now fully share my life with another in a healthy manner. When we are whole as an individual, we are able to give, share and participate in experiences with complete joy and peace. Realizing that only one person (you) is responsible for your happiness is an incredibly empowering understanding and knowing. Knowing this will positively transform your outlook, expectation and experiences when it comes to dating and relationships. Remember, we can only receive as much love as we can give so let’s first work on giving ourselves unconditional love so that we can accept unconditional love in return. Absolutely no one on this earth can make you happy unless you know how to make yourself happy. Creating healthy boundaries and self-care practices for yourself is the basis of any successful relationship, beginning with yourself.
“People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
Secondly, my experiences have taught me to build a well of compassion for others, because when things are good, they are good, but when the going gets tough, that is when compassion and understanding towards others will save YOU from heartache. Oh, yes. Your compassion for your partner will prevent you from reacting emotionally or worse, starting a train of catastrophic thoughts that are most likely fabricated from fear (avoid this road at all cost). Compassion for their pain and suffering is important to your own level of happiness and to the happy outcome of any relationship.
When we use compassion, we are forced to direct our attention towards the other person’s issues, not of our own. Really taking the time to understand your partner allows us to understand that 99.999999% of the time, the form or experience of “pain” is not actually directed at you. The pain you perceive to experience from your partner is actually a form of pain your partner is projecting onto you, because of a trigger in their own life experience, ie. you are simply a mirror reflecting to them the issues that still need to be resolved. All of us have memories and experiences which mould and shape us on a daily basis. Have compassion and respect for your personal journey for your partner’s own individual journey and for the journey that you both decide to share together. Be kind to one another and be kind to the experiences you and your partner create together.
I wholeheartedly believe that non-judgement is a very key component to a healthy relationship; this builds off of our foundation of unconditional love and compassion. Personally, practicing non-judgement has freed me from many mental and emotional blockages I once held onto. Once I began to practice unconditional love and compassion, I freed myself from the negative self-talk, low self-esteem, poor body image, lack of confidence and unhealthy relationships in my life. Both platonic and romantic relationships naturally fell away in my life once my self-respect and boundaries were actualized.
I naturally no longer had any tolerance for poor behaviour, excuses, shady colleagues and toxic friends in my life. I was free of drama, the proverbial “bad boys”, the cheating, lying and manipulation that often comes with unhealthy relationships. I can let them (people and situations) go with non-judgement and love now because I know that they are simply experiencing life at a different stage than I am. Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult at first making life changes and relationship changes but I knew it was for the best and it does get easier. Trust me.
Okay so before this blog post becomes a full-on book, I’ll share just one more key point with you and that is, let down your pride and listen to what your heart is telling you. Show them your affection, your love, your interests, your day, your dreams, your vulnerabilities, your wins and your losses, your time, your support, your laughter, your tears of joy and sadness, your compliments and encouragement, your trust and your respect, your loyalty, honesty and values. When we learn to let go of our pride, we’re able to enjoy the present moment, create beautiful memories and experiences and be happily loved, loving and lovable.
To sum it all up, strive to become the best version of yourself for yourself on a consistent basis.
Why? Because you deserve that, your partner deserves that and the world certainly deserves that as well.
“For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”
― C.S. Lewis