I think we’ve all got love on our minds at some point of our day. Whether we’re actively avoiding it or in a head over heels relationship, the thought of love is on our minds. How could you not with hundreds and thousands of ads in our faces, screaming “be in love!” Single or not, we can’t escape the commercialized holidays like Valentine’s Day. It was the beginning of January when I first saw Target sprinkle in Valentine’s Day décor. Now that we’re 10 days out, there’s an entire section dedicated to the pinks, reds, heart-shaped candies, and gushy teddy bears. Like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it’s difficult to just switch off and bow out of the celebrations. Especially on social media, it seems like everyone is trying to outdo one another.
I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day celebrator.
I don’t need a single day to tell me to show my spouse that I love him because I show him day in and day out. And vice-versa; I don’t need to be taken out to a nice dinner on the same night that everyone else goes out. Just to experience higher wait times, a menu with some items I don’t like, to be bought higher-priced flowers so I can share it on social media and show everyone how much I’m loved.
But I do remember when I was single, I would loathe seeing what everyone got for the silly holiday. I was envious, disgusted, and sad in comparison. Whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay, and it comes along a wave of questions, thoughts, anxieties, and hopes for the future of our love lives. This Valentine’s Day got me thinking of relationships and how to find the head-over-heels relationship so many people search forever to find.
How can we find the perfect relationship?
First, we need to understand that there are two phases to any relationship. The dating stage, a time filled with excitement, pleasure, and spontaneity. Everything about the relationship is new and fun. We’re spoiling each other with our words, actions, and bank accounts. This new person is practically perfect in every way and we have bought it hook, line, and sinker. But what we need to understand about this phase is that we haven’t settled into our comfort zone and let that person into our personal bubble yet.
This first phase is so fun and exciting because we’re still showing off our best self. We’re waking up early to brush our teeth to spare the other person of our stank morning breath and offering to clean up the kitchen even after we’ve offered to make dinner. My point is that we haven’t officially shown our true selves and neither has that other person. And that’s fine – enjoy that time while it lasts, because realistically, how long can you not fart in front of someone you spend so much time with?
The next phase is called the long-term phase.
This is where you start seeing the real person you’ve been dating. All that spontaneity, excitement, and pleasure is flipped on its head. We’ve officially let that person into our hearts and integrated them into all aspects of our lives. That person is becoming as much a part of you as you yourself!
Why is this distinction important?
So now that you know the difference, why is this distinction important? Well, you know how relationships start out great and exciting, and then slowly turn into, well, a relationship? That comes down to the transition between these stages, and how you treat yourselves.
In the dating stage, you treat your partner how you’d like to be treated in return and vice versa. Then along comes the long-term stage and now it’s a case of treating your partner how you treat yourself.
Spot the difference?
If your partner is hard on himself, is lazy, acts aggressive, has no ambitions, or is unhealthy, the long-term stage is going to expose that and bring you into all that. You don’t see that at first, since you’re being treated how the other person wants to be treated. While the dating stage is a projection of how we want to feel ourselves, the long-term stage is exposing the other to how we feel inside. This is why it is so important to be content with yourself before entering into a relationship. If you’re unhappy with yourself, the relationship is only going to suffer. When you’re happy and content with who you are as a person, the relationship is going to thrive.
If you want to have a long and happy relationship…
…you have to be aware of this. When you’re evaluating the relationship and thinking if it’s going to work or not, look at how your prospective partner treats themselves. As great as the dating stage feels, how your partner views themselves is very important. At the same time, you need to take a look at how you treat yourself, because ultimately, that is what you are going to attract. Unhappy people attract unhappy people and happy people attract happy people.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you the best partner you can be?
- Are you healthy, conscientious, caring, kind, stable, and supportive?
- Are you open and happy, having dealt with your past issues in a healthy way?
If you’re a long-term reader of this blog, I already know you are! So don’t sweat it, you’re only going to attract (and be attracted to) those who fit the bill. But if you feel like there are some areas of your life that need some work, start focusing on yourself first.
The right partner will always come along and when they do, they’ll meet you at just the right time.
Great life-long partners are often similar in mindset, health, and awareness. Initially, those similarities are what give us common ground to build a healthy relationship from. It is true that opposites attract but trying to force opposites into a long-term relationship is usually what results in problems down the line. If you’re looking for the perfect relationship, avoid following the exciting urges pulling you to your direct opposite, and instead focus on that person that fits nicely into all areas of your life.
Let’s be real here. If you really want something to be perfect, you just have to take your time to get to know the person 100%. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t rush it. You need to take a real look through how good they make you feel, and most importantly watch how they treat themselves and the people that are fully integrated into their lives like their family and friends. Have you ever dated someone who didn’t have a good relationship with their family? I have and it ended. In my opinion, if you can’t have a good relationship with the people who have known you the longest, that’s a huge red flag.
Pay attention to these scenarios and how they act:
- What are they like during an argument?
- How do they deal with trauma and personal struggles?
- How about failures?
- Is their self-talk healthy and productive, or aggressive, morose, or defeatist?
- Are they overly hard on themselves?
- Are they entitled or controlling, always wanting but never doing?
These signs are the things we need to avoid…
…because they are direct clues to how you will be treated once that exciting dating stage has worn off. As a matter of fact, if you’re trying to date and can’t seem to find that true long-lasting love, answer these questions honestly about yourself too. Do your answers reflect a person you would want to date? Is there any room for improvement?
What I’m trying to say here is to focus on self-love and work yourself into the best person you can be.
If you’re looking for some ways to practice self care, check out this article. Take your time with dating and make sure there aren’t any hidden traits that will reveal themselves once you’re settled into a more serious thing. Favor similarities over opposites, and don’t be afraid to end a relationship if you feel in your gut that it’s not right for you.
For those of you who are in a relationship already, it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation about bettering yourselves and becoming the best you can be for each other. Aside from surprise gifts and romantic gestures, Valentine’s Day is about the love two people share and their futures together. There isn’t a better time to cut through the commercial aspect and give each other the best gift possible: a happier, healthier relationship that’ll last a lifetime. I’ve gone ahead and listed some of my favorite, inexpensive date night ideas too!