No relationship is perfect and the sooner we realise that, the better. With the endless '#couplegoals' posts we see all over Instagram, it's hard not to compare your relationship and wonder why yours is different. The reality is, no matter how amazing a couple may look on social media, nobody truly knows the true ins and outs of that relationship but the two people who are in it. This is not to say that those couples don't have amazing relationships, I'm sure a lot of them do, but the fact is we all want different things and what makes one relationship work, might not make yours work.
Now I am certainly no relationship expert, so I'm not here to tell you what is 'normal' and what is not, everyone is so different. But I do want to tell you what I've learnt through my personal experience and what is important to me. I need a partner who is loving and affectionate. They need to be open and able to tell me anything, and also be open minded & able to listen. They absolutely must be honest and trustworthy. They need to have a good sense of humour, to be able to make me laugh but also laugh at themselves. They need to care about their family and friends, and have similar values and morals to me. I need someone who is driven, hard working and keen to travel and try new things. I also need them to have similar views for what our future may hold together. These qualities in a partner are priorities for me and it took me a number of failed relationships to realise just how important they are. There are things you can compromise, but you shouldn't have to change your core beliefs to suit a partner, I really don't believe that works out long term.
In previous relationships, I wasn't happy within myself and it affected everything. When my anxiety and depression hit an all time low, I had a boyfriend. In hindsight, we were not right for each other at all, but I felt like I needed him so much at the time because he gave me so many things I couldn't give myself. I didn't like myself, but he loved me so that helped. I had no sense of stability in my mind, but he was always there for me. He liked to take care of me and I needed that at the time so I let him. The damaging thing was, he was smothering me, he was very controlling and jealous but I became so dependent on him that I honestly thought I couldn't live without him. I allowed him to be controlling even though I knew it was wrong. I put so much pressure on him to make me happy, but at the same time whenever I felt unhappy I kept blaming myself because I knew I wasn't well mentally. It became a very a toxic relationship and it took me a long time to see that. I ended things with him and I had to really work on myself before I could be with another person.
When it really comes down to it, it’s not up to anyone but you to make you happy. You can lean on other people to help get you there, but if you aren’t willing to try to change things in your life to make it better, nothing will change. I used to put too much pressure on my relationships and hope that the other person would 'fix me', so I ended up having some really imbalanced, unhealthy relationships. I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been which, I believe has led me to have the happiest relationship I’ve ever had.
I met Justin a year ago at an event and we had something special instantly. He was a great listener, he was funny, charming, witty, caring and to top it off he has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. I never really understood the saying 'when you know, you know', but I definitely do now. I knew straight away that Justin was the person I wanted to be with. Things moved pretty quickly after we met, we were in love within the first month and it was amazing. After 6 months, we had traveled interstate a few times, and to Bali, we had introduced each other to our families, we bought a dog and we moved in together. I never imagined I would move so quickly in a relationship, but it just felt right. We hadn't had a single fight and I thought everything was perfect. But, that 'perfection' doesn't last forever. Life throws challenges at you, and it always will.
When we had our first disagreement, I was a little bit beside myself. I didn't want this 'perfect' relationship to have any issues, and because we hadn't had an argument yet I didn't know how to deal with it. I absolutely hate confrontation and conflict and will do my best to avoid it in any situation. But the way we deal with a disagreement is very different. I like to talk it out calmly, whereas Justin wants to be alone for a while and not talk about it. I found this reeeeally frustrating at first, but it's just something we need to work on.
I think it's important to acknowledge that you are never going to agree with your partner on everything, disagreements happen and that's okay. As long as you love, care and respect each other, you can move on from these things and become stronger. For us, the disagreements we have had have been about trivial things that stem from miscommunication, vulnerabilities and insecurities, often fueled by a couple of wines. With a clear head, and the light of day, we can sort out anything. So for us, there isn't some sort of deep seeded issue, we just have to focus on the way we communicate with each other afterwards and work it out. We are always respectful of each other and we both want the other person to be happy, and this is what keeps us going. It's essential that we communicate really well, and always tell each other when there is something on our mind. You can't expect your partner to be a mind reader, no matter how well you might know each other.
At the sign of cracks in a relationship, in the past, I would freak out and end up breaking up with my partner. But in hindsight, I knew they weren't right for me so I was looking for reasons to end these relationships. Now, with Justin, I'll do anything in my power to make it work. Someone said to me recently that a relationship is like fire, you have to keep adding fuel to the fire to keep it alive, but it also needs oxygen and space. Like fire, a relationship needs attention and work, but not too much or you'll smother it. If you've found someone special, don't take them for granted and keep working on it, it's worth it.