I never had a good example of a healthy relationship.
My relationship “toolbox” was not only empty — it had some rust and dents to it. Over the years, I have added a few wrenches and screwdrivers here and there by reading books, going to counseling, and enduring one or two broken hearts.
Even when I was absolutely clueless as to what constituted a healthy relationship, I was certain that I never wanted to settle for anything less than love and mutual respect. Not even for a split second have I stepped foot into today’s casual hook-up culture nor have I ever entered into a relationship that I did not truly value and envision going places. I was not always right about the men I have dated — as a matter of fact, I was wrong every single time until 2013 — the year I met Dan Kim.
He and I will celebrate our sixth anniversary this year. I will have spent almost 1/4 of my entire life, loving him. You see, Dan Kim makes it easy. He is tender-hearted, self-aware, and loyal — amongst a million other precious qualities. We have climbed mountains together, both figuratively and literally. I can say, without a single doubt in any thread of my being, that I want to grow old with this man. Our relationship is not perfect, and if it was — I would question its authenticity. Because real love is not found, it is earned over and over and over again.
Here are a few things I have learned after almost six extraordinary years with my “person”:
1. Be gentle with your tone, not just your words.
2. Always give the benefit of the doubt.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
4. Make time (for both alone time and quality time).
5. Never stop dating.
6. Sex is important — but you already knew that one.
7. Always speak highly of each other.
8. Have a life outside of the relationship (it makes for better pillow talk).
9. Keep your business between the two of you.
10. Eat before having difficult conversations (especially if you are hangry like me).
Relationships are not easy. But a healthy one — full of love, trust, and respect — is worth the sun, the moon, and all the stars. I still have a long way to go in terms of healing my childhood baggage and overcoming my own insecurities — both things that affect all of my relationships. Luckily, I am committed to someone who encourages my own self-love and improvement and forgives me for my shortcomings along the way.
Here are some of my favorite relationship “learning materials” over the past years:
- Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Watch The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
- Read The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book by Neil Strauss
- Listen to “Ready for Love” by India Arie
- Read “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Coleman
- Listen to “Sara Smile” by Hall and Oates
If you have any relationship tips, books, podcasts, etc — comment below or send me a message! Xx