1. Learn to be comfortable with the fact that sometimes they will drive you absolutely insane.
Sometimes, it seems like if you’re that in love with someone, you’ll think they’re adorable no matter what they do. You won’t care about their annoying habits or their irritating tendencies. But then you fall in love and realize that actually, they drive you completely insane sometimes, in a not cute way. That’s okay. Don’t let that worry you. Real love happens when you get to know someone beneath the surface level, when you fall in love with them in spite of and because of the fact that they’re not perfect.
2. Try not to get caught up in other people’s relationships on social media.
People are going to post things when they’re really happy, that’s just the way our world works now. When you’re looking at other couples’ relationships from an online perspective, you will see the date nights, the engagements, the Happy Birthday posts, the vacation photos. You’re seeing all the happy aspects of their relationship, which isn’t a bad thing or a good thing – that’s just the way social media works. But you can’t get distracted by these relationships, you can’t spend all your time worrying about the fact that everyone else seems way happier than you. They’re not. You’re just seeing it from one filtered angle. Don’t worry about how happy they seem online, just concentrate on how you feel in real life.
3. Remember that romantic comedies have an ending, but real love doesn’t.
RomComs always end at the peak of happiness, when the couple gets together and they’re incredibly joyful and in love. Then the credits roll. What you don’t see is the aftermath, when they still love each other but they have to deal with disagreements and family issues and down payments and mortgages and depression and bills and health and everything else that normal adults encounter. A RomCom is an awesome way to relax for a solid hour and a half, but if you start trying to compare your relationship to Noah and Allie’s, you’re in for a lifetime of trouble.
4. Be willing to do some things that you don’t really want to do.
It can be as simple as being the one to get up and turn off the light, or as intense as picking up your life and moving to a new city if your partner gets a great job offer. There’s going to be a lot of little things and a lot of big things that you’ll have to be willing to compromise on, as will your partner, if you guys are going to have a fighting chance. Stand your ground and be firm on the things you believe in and the things you truly need, and be at least a little flexible on pretty much everything else.
5. Remember that this relationship is yours; it’s never been experienced by anyone else before.
This one belongs to you two. There are no rules. There are no specific requirements you have to meet. It’s about you two learning how you can best love each other and support each other without getting caught up in making sure everyone else approves of what you’re doing. Do things your way, because at the end of the day, you’re the only two people in this relationship.
6. Try not to think in terms of deadlines.
Don’t worry about moving in together by this time or getting engaged by this time or saying “I love you” after 6 months of dating because that’s how it happened for your friend. This is a new experience, it’s your experience, and it’s going to move along exactly the way that it’s supposed to.
7. Don’t try to mold them into your ideal version of them.
That’s only going to lead to trouble and fighting and heartbreak. There’s nothing wrong with holding your partner to a certain standard – you expect them to be honest, you expect them to make you a priority, you expect them to treat you well, etc. But that’s much different than trying to change someone to become more of what you want them to be. Challenge them, support them, encourage them to grow. But don’t try to make them into someone that they don’t want to be.
8. Don’t be afraid of fighting.
As long as it’s done safely and respectfully, fighting can be very healthy and beneficial for a relationship. It’s important to expect the best from one another, it’s important to be open with one another, and when something’s off, it’s important to argue and argue until you finally get to a place where you can both agree – not necessarily on the issue, but on how you’re going to tackle it together.
9. Talk, talk, talk.
Using the word “communication” in a post about relationships is so cliche that it’s almost painful. But unfortunately, it’s also necessary. People are in a constant state of changing and growing throughout their lives, which means that if you’re in a relationship with someone, the two of you are going to change and your relationship is going to evolve over time. It’ll be hard and tricky and at times frustrating, but the only way to get through it is to understand what’s going on in the ever-changing mind of the person who’s in this with you, and for them to understand what’s going on in yours.
10. Take what you will, and leave all the rest.
There are a million pieces of advice out there about love, and if you were to try to follow every single piece of advice from every single book, article, and so on, you’d be insane. Everyone is going to have something to say, and it’s your job to figure out what truly helps you and what you don’t need. Pick and choose the advice that helps you become a better person and a better partner, and forget all the rest, including the stuff in this post – listen to what helps you, forget everything else. It’ll be different for everyone, so just worry about the advice that you believe helps you and your partner.