I met my beloved boyfriend at the beginning of this year. We have been a blessing for one another, and not a day passes in which I am not grateful for him. We were inseparable from the moment we met, and we've experienced unimaginable synchrony, but even our predominantly blissful relationship has not been without its challenges.
A week ago, during a particularly unpleasant misunderstanding, I wanted to run away from it all. I considered taking the easy way out, ending something beautiful just because it was hard for a little while. But I took a step back and observed my dramatic reaction to that momentary friction. I centered my frazzled mind and realized that I was just as responsible for the temporary discomfort in our relationship as my boyfriend was. If I chose to ignore that, I wouldn’t be solving anything, and I might as well end the relationship.
Instead, I decided to really dig into what went wrong. Since I knew that neither of us had ill intentions and that we each genuinely cared for the other, it was easy to just start talking honestly about our concerns. As a team, we came up with a list of issues that needed to be addressed. We dealt with them, and our relationship is stronger than ever.
New relationships are incredible, but messiness is almost inevitably where feelings are involved. With that in mind, I've come up with a few strategies that can help you navigate the rocky bits of a new relationship.
1. Be real with each other.
If we hide our true feelings from our partners, we are doing ourselves a disservice. If we conceal our inner world from them, we might as well be alone. Who can we trust to be wholeheartedly open with if not our partner? Secrecy creates distance and fuels resentment. Personally speaking, I used to get irritated with certain aspects of my boyfriend’s behavior but almost never brought them up in conversation.
Instead, I chose to engage in passive-aggressive combat, which left him completely confused. He had no clue what he was doing to incite these responses and would react with his own set of personal defenses. Before long, we would wind up in a state of mutual bitterness that could have been prevented had I been transparent with him from the get-go. This is just one example of how concealment can negatively affect a blooming relationship. Honesty is a sign of intimacy. And it feels so good!
2. Stay positive.
Shit happens. Not everything is going to be perfect, and expecting that is unrealistic. Whenever my boyfriend and I get into a disagreement, I tend to act like he is a stranger and essentially reject his affection. I have a difficult time maintaining a state of loving equilibrium amid discord, which makes him worry that I'm going to run at the first sign of trouble.
So, now I'm making it my priority to hold on to the stuff I love about my boyfriend even when we're arguing. This way, we can work on our problems as a team. Can we still say "I love you" when things are shaky? I challenge you to give it a shot. Your heart will thank you.
3. Have deep conversations in person whenever possible.
We spend a lot of our time communicating with one another via social media, text, and email and less and less talking IRL. There are upsides to these mediums, but relying on them for sensitive conversations is asking for trouble. Miscommunication is almost guaranteed when we try to text our deepest thoughts, ideas, and concerns to our partners. I recommend tabling sensitive matters for an in-person discussion.
No matter how text-savvy we are, there's a high margin for error. Spiraling out of control is highly possible, with one confusing text often becoming the gateway to a full-fledged fight. It’s common sense, really. Our phones don’t carry the same mannerisms, body language, and dynamism that we do. My worst fights have taken place when my boyfriend and I chose to text about matters that are way too complicated for our cellphones to handle.
4. Embrace imperfection.
We aren’t perfect, but we often expect our partners to be. I catch myself consciously searching for flaws in my partner. Undoubtedly, with this imbalanced approach to love, I wind up proving myself right. No one is perfect and if I keep leaving everyone behind in search of something "perfect," I am setting myself up for a lonely life.
Recently, I came to the realization that a lot of the disagreements in my relationship stem from the fact that I'm too hard on my boyfriend. Let's be mindful of how we view our partners. Let’s allow them to be comfortable expressing their whole selves without fear of rejection. Because isn't that what we want from them?
5. Celebrate each other.
A happy relationship is one in which both parties celebrate each other. All that means is supporting each other’s dreams, passions, and ideas—whether we agree with them or not. The celebration should never end, no matter how long you've been with someone. While I cheer my boyfriend on with his entrepreneurial endeavors, he fully supports me in my writing endeavors and aspirations. We keep each other on track, send each other encouraging messages, and look for opportunities to celebrate our love and each other.
And don't make the mistake of thinking you have to have an occasion before you can celebrate. We're all constantly working on ways to be better in our lives and in our relationships, and that's reason enough for celebration. Start finding reasons to celebrate each other, and your love life will absolutely transform.