I used to have some pretty black and white ideas about what a relationship should look like, how couples should treat each other, how everyone should conduct themselves, and what everybody could expect of one another. When I learned of couples who didn’t abide by my very rigid ideas, I secretly said to myself, “They’ll never make it” or “They’re not right for each other.” If that couple continued to be together, I felt certain they were miserable and just settling.
When I thought that way, I’d never dated anyone for more than a year. I had the luxury of holding onto those ideals because those ideals are easy enough to stick to for 365 days. Maybe for even a couple of years. But now, seven years deep into a relationship, I’ve broken just about every single one of my antiquated, militant rules. I’ve realized how blind and naïve I was when I thought I knew how relationships “should” work. I understand that, many of the couples I know who have broken my old rules and stayed together actually probably are quite happy. They didn’t stay together out of weakness but out of strength—they worked things out and found joy again in spite of some trespasses.
Life is very long, and so our time with a life partner is also very long—if we’re lucky. Holding ourselves up to impossible standards just isn’t sustainable. In fact, it’s probably a recipe for so much stress that it causes arguments. Even if you really love someone, there will be times in life when you aren’t the best version of yourself, so you can’t be the best partner. Life will test you, and you will waver. Expecting perfection just isn’t realistic. And on that note, here are relationship rules I used to see as black and white that I now see as grey.
Tell your partner everything
I used to think you should tell your partner everything—absolutely everything. Everything you’re proud of. Everything you’re ashamed of. All of your secrets. Every single thing that happened that day. Everything happening with your family. Everything you’re afraid of. I just wanted a relationship to be a big tell-all session.