1. Maintain a relationship that’s built on mutual trust.
It’s important that he trusts you. It’s important that he does not question you when you tell him where you were or what you were doing. It’s important that he believes you when you tell him how you are feeling. It’s important that when you tell him you love him, he does not doubt you. But it’s equally important for you to trust him. It’s important for you to be with a guy who you know will be honest with you always. And once you find him, it’s important for you to never question, to never let your insecurities get in the way of the mutual trust and respect that you’ve built with one another.
2. Find someone who is proud of you for your accomplishments, but loves you unconditionally, whether or not you’re successful.
It’s a wonderful feeling – being with someone who encourages you and is proud and supportive of everything that you do. You should feel like they will never be intimidated by the goals or ambitions that you have. But more importantly, you should be with someone who loves you unconditionally. Someone who loves you because of who you are, not what you’ve done. When you find someone who loves you because of who you are, you avoid the terrible misunderstanding of thinking that you need to accomplish something in order to be loved. Being with someone who loves you for who you are provides a safety net for you to land in whenever you fail. Because you know, without a doubt, that they will love you for who you are and what you’re trying to do, not what you’ve done.
3. Understand that the two of you are going to differ in opinion on a LOT of different things.
He needs to respect your opinion. He needs to acknowledge that you have the right to believe whatever you want to believe. But you also need to respect his opinion. You need to embrace the fact that sometimes he will say things or think things that will baffle you. This is part of being in a relationship. If you agreed on everything, you would be dating yourself. And that would get boring really quickly. As long as his opinion isn’t something that is completely against your moral or ethical values, it can actually make for a very interesting (although challenging) relationship. Being with someone who thinks and believes differently than you can teach you things and bring you to realizations that you may have never come to otherwise.
4. Be with a man who knows that sometimes, the little things are just as important as the big ones.
Birthday gifts and anniversary dinners and Valentine’s Day can be a lot of fun. They’re relationship cliches, and sometimes, when you’ve found the right guy, it can be fun to indulge in those cliches a little bit. But what usually ends up being most memorable are the seemingly ordinary moments, the ones that sort of sneak right into the relationship without you even noticing. Like when you wake up with a mean hangover and he’s there with some Advil, or when he goes to the grocery store with you just for fun, just to keep you company. They’re very small, ordinary moments in time. But those little moments are the ones when you fall in love.
5. Remember that it’s okay to be a little bit bored sometimes.
Falling in love is a whirlwind. You’re dizzy and over-the-moon and exhausted and exhilarated, all at the same time. But eventually, after the falling part is over and you’re just in love, it becomes more of a solid, deeply-rooted contentedness. That doesn’t mean it’s no longer exciting or exhilarating, it just means that your relationship has become a much more stable, deep, and special part of your everyday life. And sometimes, the days blend together a little bit. Sometimes, you become so comfortable with him, that the butterflies become less of a foreign and overwhelming feeling and more of a steady and controlled existence running through your veins. Sometimes, point blank, you become a little bored. And that’s okay. You’re not bored with him. You’re not bored with the relationship. You’re just used to it. You’ve grown accustomed to feeling loved and supported and taken care of – it is now just something that has become part of your everyday life. Expect to become a little bored, sometimes. But don’t let it scare you. Know that it will go away, eventually, as long as you remember how lucky you are and remember to never take for granted the happiness that you’ve found.
6. Find someone that isn’t trying to change you.
Yes, he can inspire you. He can make you want to be better. He can bring out things within you that you never knew you had, things you never knew you were capable of. But at the same time, it’s important to make sure he’s not trying to change you. He may believe that you’re capable of a lot, and he may therefore encourage you to keep trying and keep growing and keep pushing yourself. And that’s okay – that’s wonderful. Just as long as he’s not trying to change your very nature, the very essence of who you are. Be with someone who loves you and adores you and appreciates you just the way you are. And be that very same person for him. Love him, challenge him, encourage him, support him. But don’t ever try to change him.
7. Expect to feel safe when you reveal your vulnerabilities.
The fastest way to become close with someone, and to form a bond with them that feels indestructible, is to reveal to them all the different parts of yourself, especially the parts that you don’t like. It’s important to be with someone who makes you feel like you don’t have to hide anything, like you don’t have to put forward your most appealing self. There’s no freer feeling in love than the feeling of him knowing everything (everything) about you. Being with someone and knowing that you don’t have anything to hide gives you a feeling of release that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
8. Know that he doesn’t have to necessarily share your passions, as long as he supports them and understands them.
If he loves the same kinds of things that you love – fantastic. You’re lucky. But it’s much more likely that you’re going to be with a guy who doesn’t really feel the same way that you do about books or photography or House of Cards or organic cooking or CrossFit. And that’s okay, because most of the time, that keeps things more interesting anyway. He’s going to have a lot of hobbies or passions that you don’t really care for either. It’s not necessary for either one of you to take up one another’s interests in order for your relationship to last. What’s necessary is that you each acknowledge the things that are important to one another, and appreciate them instead of trying to force one another to do things differently. He doesn’t have to like hiking or typography, as long as he learns to make room for it in your relationship because he knows that it brings you joy or fulfillment.
9. Remember that indifference is worse than anger.
Don’t be afraid to argue. Don’t be afraid to have fights. Don’t be afraid to disagree with each other. As long as you’re communicating in an effective way, where both of you are sharing how you feel and listening to how the other feels, it’s okay to feel angry sometimes. It’s okay to get upset or annoyed or mad. It’s okay for him to feel that way with you. Your relationship isn’t in trouble when you’re mad at each other; your relationship is in trouble when you feel indifferent about one another. So fight (in a healthy way). Get mad (in a healthy way). Yell at each other (in a healthy way, a controlled way, and a way where you’re not screaming over one another). All that means is that you’re working out kinks in your relationship. You’re not in trouble until someone stops feeling or caring or having any kind of desire to fix the problem.
10. Be with someone who you can honestly talk to about the things that are on your mind.
A handsome guy is great. A successful guy is great. A hardworking guy is great. But at the end of the day, those things eventually become meaningless if you can’t honestly and genuinely connect on the most basic level. Eventually, that fun, carefree guy you’re dating could become your life partner. In the beginning, it’s fun to be carefree and lighthearted with him. It’s fun to enjoy his looks. It’s nice to be with a guy who can take you out to a fancy dinner every once in a while. If you’ve found a guy with any or all of those qualities, good for you. But they aren’t absolutely necessary – you can still find happiness with him even if he’s missing some of the traits you usually look for. Because ultimately, when you try to create a life with someone, it’s going to be damn near impossible if you don’t know how to talk to them. When you’re coming home from a long day, or when you’re experiencing one of the more difficult challenges of your life, you’re not going to care about coming home to someone that’s handsome or wealthy or powerful. You’re going to care about coming home to a guy who can talk to you, a guy who can help you work through what you need to work through, a guy who knows how to listen and how to make you feel heard and understood and cared about. That’s worth more than all the money in the world.