1. Don’t yell when they’re pissing you off.
Sometimes your first instinct when you’re upset and defensive is to yell at your significant other, because you want to make sure they’re hearing you. The problem is that the louder you want to shout, the less they will want to listen. In the moment, when your blood is pumping and you’re all worked up, it’s hard to keep it together and speak in a normal tone. But the only way you’ll ever make any headway is if you do just that. It’s okay to be angry and upset and shaken up, as long as you can control your feelings enough to get your point across.
2. Be willing to give up alone time, no matter how badly you want it.
Don’t have a heart attack, I’m not saying it’s necessary to give up your alone time. (Definitely don’t do that. You’ll be single in twenty-four hours.) But you do have to be willing to rearrange your schedule or your plans if your partner needs you. Sometimes, you’re going to spend all day at work looking forward to going to bed early or watching a movie in your fat pants or getting takeout from a Mexican restaurant and eating it all in ten minutes and then hating yourself. But then your boyfriend or girlfriend will call you because they are sick or they got chewed out at work and they need you. You don’t have to be excited about it. But you do need to remind yourself that it’s more important to take care of your partner than it is to spend the night watching Wish Upon A Star on Netflix.
3. Deal with the weird way that they squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube, and other annoying things.
There are going to be certain habits they’ve kept their entire lives that are going to be hard for them to break. Harmless tendencies, sure, but probably some that are fairly annoying. But if the way they squeeze out the toothpaste or the way they eat their scrambled eggs is your biggest problem, your relationship is doing pretty well. Plus, you have to be willing to accept their irksome habits if you want them to accept yours. (Shout out to my boyfriend for still dating me even though I haven’t stopped singing the UnBREAKable Kimmy Schmidt theme song for the past month.)
4. Split the time between your families equally.
This isn’t an annoying thing necessarily, especially if you really like their family, but it can get complicated. You may want to spend every single holiday or vacation with your family, but once there’s another person in the picture, there’s also another family in the picture. If you want them to be with your family at Christmas, you might have to be willing to spend Easter or Thanksgiving with them and their family. It really is a good problem to have, but it takes some getting used to.
5. Admit it when you know you’re wrong.
It sucks, and for some people (read: me), having to admit that you’re in the wrong is just the worst. But walking around like a blockhead and refusing to be open to the idea that you’re the problem is only going to make your life, and your relationship, more difficult. You have to swallow your pride, and that can be awkward and unnerving, but if you think you’ve finally found your person, you have to be ready to admit that you suck sometimes.
6. Hang out with their friends, even if you don’t really feel like it.
Sometimes, their friends are going to be awesome. But sometimes, there’s going to be that one really loud person that you’re not in the mood to deal with tonight, or they’re all going to be at a bar that you don’t really enjoy spending time in. Whatever the case, just suck it up and remember that the way they feel about their friends is the way you feel about yours. Your friends are your second family, your supporters, your cheerleaders, the people who still love to hang out with you even when you look gross. You don’t want your partner to be a stranger to them. That’s the same way your boyfriend or girlfriend feels when it comes to the relationship between you and their friends. So even if you’re tired or bored or feeling anti-social, make the effort anyway. It’s worth it and it will mean more to them than you know.
7. Argue when you need to argue, but don’t be spiteful or hurtful about it.
When you’re feeling attacked or vulnerable or defensive, your first instinct might be to start hurling insults at them or to start attacking parts of their personality, even if it has nothing to do with what you’re arguing about. It’s easy to slip into this habit, because you want to keep them at a far enough distance that will prevent them from saying anything hurtful about you. It can feel like the safest and most effective thing to do, but in actuality, it’s only going to drive you further apart. If you need to argue about something, argue about it like adults. Be willing to hear their side of the story and hear what you’re potentially doing wrong before insisting that you’re the victim and picking on them to protect yourself.
8. Put sunscreen on their back.
It’s gross. It’s sweaty. It’s greasy. But the whole point of finding a soulmate is finding someone who loves you enough to put lotion on your back so that you can stop asking your mom.
9. If you’re going to ask your partner to give something up, be just as ready to give something up for them too.
This one is more so scary and unnerving than it is annoying. But it’s also very necessary when it comes to building something that’s solid and powerful and long-lasting. In a relationship, neither person gets 100% of what they want, and it’s important to remember that you can still be happy even if you have to make sacrifices. If you’re going to ask your partner to do something for you, whether it’s life-changing or not, you have to be willing to meet them halfway so that they’re not just a supporting character in your story.
10. Do the shitty things sometimes so that they don’t have to.
Sometimes, true love is as simple as being the one to get back out of bed and turn off the light, even if they were the last one up and they’re the one that forgot to do it. Be willing to do all the dishes sometimes. Pay for dinner. Cook dinner. Run out and get them NyQuil if they’ve got the black lung, Pop. Take care of them, and be the one to take care of the more unpleasant things sometimes. That’s real romance.