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Things My Relationship Has Taught Me

Saturday, 22 April 2017
things my relationship taught me personal life love reflection

In August, Jack and I will celebrate two years together. It may not seem like much - I know bloggers who have been with their partner for five, seven, even twelve years! - so me and Jack going on two years together seems like nothing to some people, certainly not enough to plan your future around somebody or already have a list of songs you want played at your future wedding to them. Truth be told, the beginning of 2017 hasn't been easy for us, particularly for me. We've been through a lot of hurdles already in our time together, things that have made me feel like we've been together for so much longer than we have, but nothing had prepared me for our intro to 2017. Whilst, yes, we've had a handful of good moments (the highlight being that we finally said those three little words), we've also had a lot of difficulties this year. I won't get into it because a lot of it is to do with our personal issues as individuals and whilst I'm OK discussing mine, I'm pretty sure Jack doesn't want me shouting his into the void of the internet.

To get to the point though, even though it's only been over a year and a half, it feels like so much longer due to everything we've been through. I've learnt a lot from being with Jack, and I'd like to think that I've taught him a thing or two, as well. Today I thought I'd share some of the things that he's taught me and given me experience with.

TO COMPROMISE...

...Or, you know, at least try to. I'm a very demanding and very stubborn person, and whilst I don't ask all that much from Jack, in some ways I'm used to having things my way. I'm just used to boys who will do what I want, but Jack is very much his own person and by that token, he isn't a pushover. Whilst these qualities make him just what I need (i.e. someone who can handle my shit), sometimes he can be as stubborn as me. But, to be fair, most of the time he is much more laid back and therefore much more open to compromise. Even though I'm not that good at negotiating, it helps that he allows more wriggle room than I do. No longer can I have everything my way, and I don't expect him to drop plans with his friends to just to visit me cos I'm grumpy and on my period (and let's face it, that's not the most appealing way to ask someone to come over, haha!). 

On a similar note, I have to consider Jack in my decisions, and I can no longer do what I want, when I want. This hasn't been a hard thing to grasp and I'm now used to it, but it's definitely been a very different way of doing things for me. I'm more often than not used to just going out when I want, going where I want, doing what I want, and when I say I have to consider Jack in my decisions, I'm talking about things like mental health. I can't go out binge drinking the same way, nor can I go back to self-harm. I know the knock-on effect this has on my partner, so now that I've kicked the bad habits, there's no going back.

TO VOICE FEELINGS

I have a love/hate relationship with feelings. I like to be blunt, whingey and up front, and I'm all these things when it concerns what I don't like or am unhappy with. In a relationship it's a little different, because it means that not only do I have to voice concerns (and try to discuss it all like a mature adult instead of being a baby about everything), but I have to also voice my affection and love. This is almost unheard of for me, and whilst I am very supportive of online friends, it's very different IRL. I'm much more reserved and even though I will always support my friends, when I talk IRL I don't sound like there's three exclamation marks at the end as well as heart and cheering emojis, haha. This all said, however, it's come a lot more naturally with Jack than I ever expected. With a true partner and somebody I really see as my equal, I find it much easier to be open and honest. Kisses, cuddles, and saying cute shit to each other has become just part of everyday life, as opposed to being something I am nervous about or uncomfortable with. Saying "I love you" was scary but not hard, and every time I say it, it becomes less terrifying. 

TO TRUST

I trust friends who have earned it, and I will trust my family to be there in hard times. But trusting romantic interests of mine in any way, shape or form has never been my strong suit. This largely links back to the fact that I don't enjoy being vulnerable and in a position of weakness, as it makes me feel like this other person has the upper-hand. With romantic interests I have always felt thoroughly insecure, afraid to try new things (who needs the ridicule?), and even unwilling to admit certain things that I like or dislike (I cry at Disney films, there, I said it). With Jack, we have been through so much. He loves me as I am and I'd like to think there is nothing he'd want to change about me, even when we're pissing each other off, because even though I wish he was on time more often, I wouldn't actually change the fact that he's always late, it's like his thing. 

Jack is patient to counteract my temper; he is laid back to combat the fact that I'm a constant ball of stress; he's that person saying "you got this" when I'm freaking out because I can't go to that job interview, I don't know what to say; he's that person who'll sit and smile when I'm in the middle of a rant; and he's content with my impatience, my whininess, and my body, as well as my love, my affection and my giggle-fits. There are things he knows that no one else does and there is no judgement, no awkwardness, no "I don't like you anymore"'s. There are things that Jack told me before we even started dating and I'm glad he could be honest with me about it all. It never deterred me from wanting to be with him.

THAT I REALLY CAN BE LOVED FOR WHO I AM

Back before I began to get to know Jack, I spent a lot of my time with peple who didn't like large parts of my personality. They didn't like the way I handled things or did things; didn't like my nose ring or my dress sense. They wanted to change certain aspects of me. I knew that someday far in the future there would be someone who wasn't a total dick - you know, maybe just 60% dick (haha) - but now I have living, breathing proof. There was a time where I thought it was never going to be possible and I'd never really find somebody, but I admit that I was wrong - and that's not something you'll hear me say often!

SMALL THINGS MATTER (AND ARE REALLY CUTE!)

In the first few months of our relationship, Jack and I talked about putting together a giant bowl of every kind of Skittles, and how awesome it would be to have. He also made several jokes about having to stoop down to kiss me, and referencing an old Yellow Pages ad (that I'm too young to remember) where a little boy stands on one to kiss a girl beneath the misteltoe. So what did I find amongst my Christmas gifts four months later? A yellow pages (har-har) and a big jar filled with every kind of Skittles. I'm not very good at being so sentimental - I never thought to get something like either of these and tend to spend money on materialistic things. That said, every now and then I do try to think outside the box and go for something a little different. It also made my insides go a little slushy cos awwwwww!

TO LISTEN

I don't always feel like I'm a good listener, but I do try. I think I've gotten better since dating Jack because sometimes he just wants to vent like hell about a shitty day at work whilst eating Rolos and snuggling, and he doesn't often want a response, instead just wanting to get it out of his system, and that's fine. I'm happy to listen. 

TO HAVE ARGUMENTS

I hate hate hate confrontation, especially for somebody who has 0 time for anybody's shit, although I suppose they go hand-in-hand. Arguments often feel like a waste of time and I'm awful at handling them in person. With strangers or people I don't know that well, I feel awkward and uncomfortable. With people I know, I hate being shouted at. Therefore when me and Jack have arguments, especially at the start of our relationship, it felt like my world was crumbling. Well, OK, I didn't think we were over but I used to get so upset and feel so awful about it, but Jack was like, "Amanda, it was just a fight, it happens. It wasn't even a big fight like I wouldn't consider that a real argument. We just disagreed" and that made me feel so much better. It also reminded me that having a fight or disagreement doesn't mean our relationship is over - it's just a way of life. If we are gonna be partners for life, I had to remember that it's only natural that we'll have our fair share of disagreements.

TO SAY SORRY

Sorry is probably my least favourite word in the world. I hate saying it, and I hate hearing it. It's primarily such an empty word full of empty promises, and when I've heard it in the past, it never meant anything - I'd always hear "I'm sorry, but I'm not really sorry otherwise I'd do something to counteract my actions" i.e. unbreak my heart after breaking it, you know, that kinda thing. Plus when you're as stubborn as me, you'll also find that sorry is like a sign of weakness (Jethro Gibbs has taught me well, ahh). That said, 'sorry' is something I've had to get used to saying. After all, Jack and I have our disagreements and sometimes I say things that make him unhappy, and making him unhappy is the last thing I ever want to do, so I have to fix it, and saying "sorry" is definitely a start. It's hard not to say "well I'm sorry but..." and turn it into some sort of backhanded apology that's just so typically me, but I've managed, and I'm pretty proud of myself for it.

HIS HAPPINESS IS MY HAPPINESS

Not everyone enjoys the "co-dependence" that can accompany relationships, and I'm not saying that I need to be with Jack to be happy, because that's not the case. We lead very separate lives outside of our relationship, with different friends; different work places; different hobbies; even different work patterns. What I'm talking about here though is that when Jack's mad or upset about something, I feel it. I feel it in my fucking bones. I don't know if this is normal or what, but it's just how things are and I've never really questioned it. During the first year 8 months or so of our relationship, I had a burning hatred for his work place (which was also my work place for those 8 months). He was constantly stressed, tired, overworked, understaffed and generally unwell mentally. I was worried, and I hated that I couldn't fix everything (I still do hate it, tbh). He was constantly working extra hours, constantly handling unreliable staff and often left with little-to-no help on extremely busy days. It brought me down because I just felt so unhappy that he felt so unhappy. I do wish I could single-handedly fix things, but I know realistically, and from my own mental health experiences, that I can't. This fact is still something I'm struggling with! 

* * * 

I thought this was quite an interesting post to write - it's an idea I had last year and I wrote most of these points down then, but it's so odd to re-read and re-write them now at a much later date. Rewriting this has made me realise how much I've grown and developed over the last year or so. It's strange how much life and the people you surround yourself with can teach you - if you ask me, it's much more than any school or higher education place can. I also learned from writing this that I still have so much I can learn from our relationship and as I know humans are ever-developing, I see that this relationship is still shaping me and changing me (hopefully for the better!). 

What have you learned from your current/most recent partner? Let me know in the comments - I think this is a really interesting topic!

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