I entered my first relationship with very naïve ideas about love and relationships.
But perhaps some of the most lasting lessons I took away from my time in school were the things I learned from my first relationship with my high school girlfriend.
In this post I’ll be talking about a few basic yet important lessons people need to grasp to make their relationships more fulfilling.
You can’t change people
Before I entered my first relationship, I knew my ex-girlfriend and I were not exactly compatible.
But I imagined I would be able to change some aspects about her to make us more compatible (In hindsight, I am aware of how selfish this was of me).
However, my experience has taught me that you can’t change people, especially with an agenda of making them conform to your desires.
But I do believe with conscious effort, it is indeed possible to bring out the best in your partner or other people. As blogger, Anne-Laure Le Cunff puts it,
"Every time I have tried to change people at a deeper level—to make them someone different—I have failed. Instead, I now try to figure out what’s the best in people around me, and offer the little help I can to bring that out in them. Everything that requires little nudges in the right direction works, everything that requires a complete change in values and beliefs doesn’t."
Don’t try to be someone you're not
Many people who knew me would often say I am a ‘pavaam’, a Malayalam word that loosely translates to being nice and innocent.
I believed the myth that said nice guys finish last, and so when I started dating my then-girlfriend, I feared that my niceness would be taken for granted and I would be taken advantage of.
So, what I did instead was to become demanding with my girlfriend and become someone I was not.
I found out that by not being myself, it just made things complicated, and it even made me dislike who I was in that relationship.
In the long run, trying to be someone you are not can be too much effort. Moreover, what’s the point of being in a relationship with someone if you can’t be who you truly are?
Don’t enter a relationship for the wrong reasons
The Conversations with God Book 1 (my favourite book series) has a passage (given below) which eloquently describes a fundamental reason why many relationships fail to work out,
“Most people enter relationships for the “wrong” reasons—to end loneliness, fill a gap, bring themselves love, or someone to love—and those are some of the better reasons. Others do so to salve their ego, end their depressions, improve their sex life, recover from a previous relationship, or, believe it or not, to relieve boredom. None of these reasons will work, and unless something dramatic changes along the way, neither will the relationship.”
The right reason to get into a relationship is of course because you genuinely love the other person.
Don't revolve your life around your partner
A pattern I've seen with some of my female friends is that when they start dating someone, they make their whole lives revolve around their partner.
In the process, they neglect to pursue their interests and hobbies and spend time with their friends. But then they eventually come to regret this when the relationship ends.
Having space is a crucial part of relationships. Some people tend to need more of it than others. So when people try to make their lives revolve around their partners, it can be off-putting to those that need space.
Moreover, there is something attractive about someone who can keep themselves occupied and find fulfilment from many sources independent of their romantic relationships. Being clingy can kill relationships.
Don't fool yourself about Love
The portrayal of love in movies, books, and TV Shows often gives us misguided perceptions about love.
Love gets often associated with attachment, expectation, control, jealousy, possession — all of which arise out of fear and not from love.
Another common mistake people make is to confuse desire for love. As Vernon Howard sums it up succinctly: “Do not mistake desire for love. Desire leaves home in a frantic search for one gratification after another. Love is at home with itself."
It's not your partner’s job to make you happy
For a long time, I believed that if your partner couldn’t make you happy, then it was their fault, and so because of this, I put a lot of undue pressure on my ex-girlfriend.
It was only once I started meditating and getting more deeply into personal growth and spirituality, I began to realise happiness as cliché as it sounds is an inside job.
A big part of happiness lies not in your outside circumstances or other people, but in your attitude and perspective, which is something only you can control. And that’s why it’s futile to make your partner responsible for your happiness.
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