Relationship Truths

Last weekend we spent some time in bed, listening to NPR’s This American Life. Cuddling while listening to a radio show just might be the most indulgent thing I can think of. Anyways, it was their Valentine’s Day special – all about the things we do for love. Mostly the crazy things. Or the things we convince ourselves to be  totally ok, but if a sane person were to look in on the situation in an objective manner, they would tell you you were crazy and to cut it out.

While listening to different peoples’ experiences and the crazy (albeit endearing) things they did, I couldn’t help but cringe. And by the end of it I was throwing my hands up in frustration because, “Ugh! Didn’t they know it was over WAY before then?!” Spoiler Alert: The majority of the stories on the show don’t end well… except for this short story about a duck, but we skimmed that one.

I have gained a copious (read: most definitely more than I wanted) of knowledge and wisdom about when-to-let-go because I am, in fact, that biggest hanger-on-until-my-hands-are-bloody person. Have you pretty much told me, out loud, that the relationship isn’t working? Well then, I’ll do my best to fix all of the “holes” and drag it out another 6 months. Distance that is making us both completely insane? Just a small challenge that any real romance can withstand! You make me cry more than you make me laugh? It’s probably my fault for being so emotional.

Obviously, I’ve learned my share of lessons and have learned some fail safe (until you prove me wrong, which is guaranteed to happen in the comments) methods for preventing the crazy (if you have the mental awareness and are not in a haze of tears and desperation), and cutting your partner loose. They were most definitely bringing you down anyway.

I’m speaking to the big you, the capital You. Not individual you. And although I am cringing a bit about what the comments might bring (Yes, I understand that there are exceptions to every rule and my little list is no… exception), I’m not going to devalue my thoughts here – even though it’s my gut reaction. I’m not going to say things like, “this is just my little opinion, pay no attention!” because I really do think these things are true and it feels so very good to say them with numbered bullet points.

Now… in order to continue you must sign a mental agreement that acknowledges the fact that relationships end, and! even though we would rather not believe it to be true – there are 99.9% of the time warning signs, even if we only see them in hindsight.

I’m calling this Lauren’s List of Relationship Truths:

  1. If you have the strong urge to hire a private investigator because you think they might be cheating… your relationship is already over (and they most likely are).
  2. If you feel the overwhelming urge to read their diary, it’s because there’s something you can’t ask them out loud because you’re not going to like the answer. What you find in the diary won’t be good either.
  3. If it’s been a lot (I’m dodging the bullet of being overly specific, yes I am) of years and the conversation about marriage just *hasn’t* come up (no hypothetical time line, no assertion of “Yes someday”, zero-zilch-nada), and you’re unsure why: It’s because you don’t really want to marry them and you should move on.
  4. If you have gone on more than 3 dates with someone and you are angsting over whether or not to text them something fun, invite them over, or plan another activity with them, etc. because you aren’t sure if they like you:  Either you need to clarify what’s going on so your head doesn’t explode OR they don’t like you as much as you like them. The good ones make it exceedingly clear.
  5. If you have to renew your vows every year in front of others, then you need to be convinced the other person is in it to win it. Or you’re trying to convince yourself.
  6. And above all: Relationships (friendships or romantic ones) are not games. Say what you mean, tell them what hurts your feelings, be honest with your self and others, be vulnerable, and be loving. If the other person runs for the hills – the sooner the better. They weren’t going to appreciate you anyway.

What are your truths? What have you discovered along your (many) relationship journey (ies)? Is there any tidbit you’ve put in your back pocket to use at a later date? The good things, the warnings, the quickest ways to conflict resolution, a breakthrough moment you had, etc. I’m all ears eyes.

*Also! For more relationship-y truths and chats check out this post by Happy Sighs. Because we seem to be on the same exact wavelength this week. Yay!

29 thoughts on “Relationship Truths”

  1. Number 6 a huge one! I would add: Trust has to be built so it’s OK not to put it all out there on the table immediately (but you gotta have trust eventually).

    Some more things:
    If absolutely love something about yourself and your partner makes you feel bad about it that’s a big red flag that needs to talked about.
    It’s OK to need things from people. We all have emotional needs and you should help your partner out by being honest about those needs. (I guess this is sort of 6 restated, but that’s just the mother of emotional truths.)

  2. If you find yourself googling “emotional abuse” at 2 am and using the search results to convince yourself that everything is fine because he would NEVER do three of the things on that list of warning signs, and that one warning sign doesn’t count because he only did it that one time and it really wasn’t that bad… Ahem. YES, IT IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

  3. I think this is a pretty solid list. Especially number five, which actually made me laugh out loud. I feel like that’s a common one on reality tv shows the season before the couple splits up. It’s either that or someone gets their partner’s name tattooed on their body. WHOOPS. You’re breaking up for sure!

    1. YES! I feel like there is a magic something or other that happens when you tattoo your partner’s name on yourself. It’s immediately downhill from there. 😉

  4. I’m starting a new relationship now and think this is an excellent list (and I won’t lie – I’m pretty proud that things are going well in relation to your list and my own – I used to have a bit of immaturity and relationshipcrazy).

    I’ve found that I have to trust my gut, even if it seems like I’m making a rash decision and breaking up before I know for sure how the relationship might go… if I have the tiniest feeling that it’s not right, it’s best to cut myself loose right then. I’ve had that feeling twice but held on to the relationship, and it’s suuuuuucked for a long time and then the break-ups were the worst.

  5. Where was this list my freshman year of college???

    Wise Lauren, you could have saved me months of embarrassing myself in a relationship with someone who didn’t actually like me, or think we were in a relationship. Hah… Put an extra asterisk up by Rule #4 for me. 🙂

  6. A big one for me is – Fall in love with the person, not their potential. Of course people can mature/grow/change, but if the person you are with isn’t the person that you want them to be, you need to let that relationship go. When someone shows you who they are, you have to take that for what it is and not pin everything on “one day” when they’re going to go back to school/get a job/stop playing video games/learn to be more social. I get frustrated when I see friends dating guys who are nice but who clearly do not possess the traits that my friends want, and they seem convinced that these guys will somehow “mature” into the traits. Sometimes – yes. Mostly – no.

    1. Excellent call! Although, that said, you can take someone who is kind, nice, lovely etc and worth being with anyway, and make them better 🙂
      My DH is a shining example – he has come a long way out of his original reservedness, and dresses much better than he did. Some of this he worked on because he saw that it made me happy, some of it I worked on subtly.
      But, I started with a genuinely decent guy, which makes a difference. If some of those changes hadn’t happened (his parents are adamant he doesn’t like much physical contact. I disagree, but it took a while to get there), it wouldn’t have lasted, but I think in that situation we would have remained friends after because the relationship would have ended early enough to do so.

      1. Yes! But that stuff changing has to be a bonus, not a “must have”. If you love to go out and be social with a partner, it’s not really fair to date someone who is very introverted and expect them to turn into a social butterfly. You can maybe expect them to come out every now and then, and work on being more social, but they aren’t going to do a 180 unless that comes from within (and that may not ever happen). You can’t make someone something they aren’t. You have to love the person you’re with for who they are, not who you think they could be.

        1. So very very true. I think, for women especially, it’s far too common to settle for a man who they would love, with a few changes, and then go about trying to change their partner.

          On the flip side – if your partner doesn’t accept you without needing Big Changes, probably not a good sign.

  7. #6 is so right on! I want to print it on little flashcards and hand them out at the bus stop.

    My rule/constant reminder is similiar: Your life is not a contest. Other people’s experiences may provide you insight or context to your successes and stumbling blocks but there are no winners or losers. And no one’s life is perfect. So be honest, talk about what you want and then if it works for you, eff everyone else’s noise.

    1. Also, love that this post in inspired by This American Life. We are hardcore NPR listeners, though our NPR drug of choice is Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!

    1. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this!!! I was only able to read the texts while i’m at work, but I am for sure hanging out in my sweatpants and watching the videos when I get home.

  8. Meeting my husband brought #4 and #6 to life for me. There was no guessing or games with us. From the beginning, he was crazy about me and I was crazy about him and that’s never changed.

    1. THIS is exactly it. Exactly. There shouldn’t ever be a question when it’s “right”…. when it’s where you should be it all becomes so crystal clear.

  9. The lesson I’m currently learning is that (to paraphrase Ms. Angelou), when someone tells you who they are, believe them. Turns out, phrases at the outset like, “I’m not in a place where I’ll ever be able to fully commit to this, but I’m good for now,” isn’t just code for “Let’s see where it goes.” When people fly their flags, acknowledge it. And get the hell out of there.

    1. Amen, sister. It took me a year and a half to realize that a bf I was MADLY IN LOVE WITH and who continually told me he didn’t want to get married, was in fact never going to marry me. 🙁 It was a super tough and terrible situation.

  10. If there is something I learnt the hard way is : take it slow, I am crazy, and spontaneous, and very emotional.
    However, like Sarah said before, when I met my husband, it all went well from the beginning I was able to show how I was, to be my happy extroverted self, did not have to hold myself back anymore…

  11. OK. So for a 26 year old you are very wise. Perhaps it is because you have dealt with the really weird, the non-committed and the “I love you.. but” people. The only thing that I have to say is….being in love with your best friend is the best way to have a long term relationship. Your mom was and still is my best friend. We laugh, we plan, we play and we help each other out, being there always as best friends. It was such a wonderful thing to fall in love with my best friend. It makes being in love a wonderful thing. ( I know. this is sounding really drippy and full of syrup). But the truth is the truth.
    love you tons

  12. I think this is really wise and true, especially #6, which should be read aloud daily as a public service announcement over the tannoy (I always imagine American high schools have these) in all high schools. But what I also want to say -and sorry Lauren’s dad if this is weird – is that your father just seems like the nicest man. I really like that he is so supportive and loving and openly proud of what you do here.

  13. I’m a little late to this conversation (I was on vacation!) but I have to just give a little “AMEN!” to number 6 and add that if you aren’t getting the authenticity/honesty/vulnerability from the person you’re involved with, run for the damn hills. That took me years to figure out.

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