Hello and welcome back to The Post-It Note! Happy Monday everyone! It really seems like we are flying through this year. I really feel like January was just yesterday and we are already almost in April! Time flies when you’re having a good time, am I right? Today’s topic is about healthy relationships, specifically romantic partnerships.
I’ve only had two long term partnerships in my life and the first one did not go well at all. The second, current and hopefully last one, is like a complete 180 of what I experienced in my first relationship and I’m going to be really honest, it threw me for a loop and I really wasn’t sure how to act at first and 3 years later, I’m still learning more about myself and about us as a unit.
Now, if you’ve been with me here on The Post-It Note since day one, you will know that my first relationship was traumatic, abusive and ended horribly with my ex committing suicide. You can read more about my experience here and on the About Me page.
I believe that people can be conditioned from experiences that, at a very basic level, can do one of two things:
a. Keep you in a mindset where you continue to accept the same situations because that is what you’re used to, or
b. Push you out of your “comfort zone” to figure out a new way to live because the old way isn’t working.
In terms of abusive relationships, I have seen, experienced, and read about many women who end up in the same abusive situations repeatedly until they get tired and leave or end up dead, this abuse is lasting and is generational. It affects their daughters and sons profoundly and the way they view relationships going forward in their lives.
My true first experience right out of high school lead me down a road of mental and verbal abuse and although he never hit me outright, my mental state with him lead me wanting to hurt myself to just be done with him. I was young and in love and although it was chaos, I couldn’t see a way out except to kill myself. I wasn’t strong enough to leave, until one day I was, and I did and then he took his life, leaving me believing that I should have done more to save him.
When you have suffered mentally, verbally, and physically like that or worse, you develop ideas as to what relationships are, how people who are in love respond to one another, and a fear and uncompromising self-defense during disagreements. Now, I can only make comments and assertions about my own experiences because everyone’s experiences are different, and people handle them differently.
Before Dillon and I met, I was in a place where I had done the work to heal myself from my past relationship and I was enjoying being single. Of course, I was dating but not actively trying to find my husband, I was in every sense of the word good. The last person that I dated was a guy friend that I’ve known since high school. Honestly, we could have and should have just stayed friends. So after that I was really content with just doing my own thing. Then I met Dillon and everything changed.
“There was so much respect and continues to be so much respect for one another and this was something that I was not used to.”
Our first conversation lasted hours, it was filled with laughter and flirtation and both of us knowing we weren’t looking for anything and we were quite happy being single. But there was a pull and we just fell into one another.
I personally was shocked at how easy everything was, right from the beginning. There was so much respect and continues to be so much respect for one another and this was something that I was not used to. I wasn’t used to my feelings being considered for any decision that was made in the relationship, yet here I was in a partnership where we discussed decisions together.
For once in my life, I believe that during the first few years of our relationship, he loved me more and frankly I didn’t believe that I deserved him. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and during disagreements and sometimes randomly, I would offer him an out of the relationship because even though I had done the work on myself, I still had a long road ahead of me when it came to building a healthy foundation for a relationship.
Dillon never rose his voice, never belittled me, and never made me feel like I was anything other than equal in the relationship. Simply being treated with respect was admittedly, too much for me. I didn’t know how to respond and sometimes I cried, feeling so unworthy of that kind of love.
“I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
When we disagreed, I would yell and even run from the situation, never leaving the relationship (I don’t believe in breaking up and getting back together, if we’re done, we’re done.) but I was not mentally and emotionally mature enough to communicate how I felt without getting angry.
Now we are entering our four year anniversary, and wow, as I write this, I actually had to count the years because it doesn’t feel like four years at all! But this August 21st, we will celebrate four years together and I am learning and challenging myself to communicate differently and respectfully. We both have to work on this and we are happy to do it, because of the respect for ourselves and our relationship, we are both very much all in.
Here are a few things I’ve learned through navigating a healthy and respectful partnership:
- Both partners need to be committed to growth in the relationship
- There is no shame in discussing things with your partner (no one is whipped here)
- There is constant learning and reflecting in relationships
- Communication is so important, and everyone communicates differently
- Love can be painful, stressful and annoying sometimes. That’s okay, together you have to decide on whether the relationship is worth working on and building on.
- Love can also be fun, weird and unexpected.
- Finances are hard and things are just more expensive in a relationship. Learn how to discuss finances early and openly.
- Healthy relationships are equal, but not always at the same time.
- It’s okay to spend time apart, I highly encourage it. Find your own groups of friends and not every outing needs to include your partner.
- Get over the small stuff. So what he slurps or you fart. We are imperfect beings. Get over yourself.
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