Being with someone you love and care about is one of the best feelings you can experience. It’s normal to want to be loved and to want to be in a loving relationship that makes you feel valued and appreciated. But, much like having a baby, being married, or going through difficult life experiences, there is much that often goes unsaid about relationships, and this is applicable to even the best ones.
It’s not our fault that we have this perspective. We receive so many subliminal and not so subliminal messages that everyone else’s relationships are going well, while we might feel we are stuck in a dysfunctional one. It’s rare that a couple posts about their difficult or challenging moments. Instead, the focus is typically on the good moments.
And reality tv isn’t often very real at all. Things are dramatic in the first 20 minutes of a reality tv show only to be wrapped up in a pretty bow of resolution in the last 5 minutes. But unfortunately, this isn’t the way life works when it comes to real relationships.
Here are 11 things no one tells you, but often happens in most relationships:
1. You won’t agree on everything.
I’m a person who craves closure. And it’s natural that you probably do too. But, here is what you should know. Sometimes closure just doesn’t exist. You might want to resolve a disagreement or continually explain to your partner why you feel a certain way, but when it’s all said and done, you still may not agree on everything. In fact, there might be many things you don’t agree on, but it doesn’t mean your relationship is damned. In fact, it just means you each have different perspectives and life experiences, some of which you may share similar beliefs, while in other ways you may not.
2. Don’t believe the social media hype.
I coach couples and individuals in relationships and I’ve noticed an alarming trend. It’s normal that we want to project our best selves on social media. Everyone wants to be perceived as being in a positive relationship or having someone valuable in their life. It’s how we operate as humans.
It’s normal to want to keep up with others and show that we have interesting lives. But, here is the other side of the coin. Social media pics, even when genuine, are a moment in time for that particular couple or family. Here is what you don’t see and what many don’t show on their social media page. You don’t see the disagreement or fight the couple may have had before that picture was taken. You don’t see the struggle a couple may experience financially, health-wise or in other ways.
When you look at someone’s social media page and you don’t see something that mirrors your life or relationship, don’t get discouraged. Each of us has something we have to handle in our life that may or may not be evident.
3. Arguing is normal.
No relationship is perfect. In fact, I can guarantee you that every relationship is imperfect. And because of this, every couple will have disagreements or arguments. It’s normal.
Someone who is in your life on a regular basis will have different emotions and ways of dealing with things versus the way that you do. And, as a result, there will be days when you get along well and days where you won’t. Arguing and disagreeing is normal as long as you do it respectfully and in a way that it doesn’t cause long-term damage to your relationship. Being able to be respectful and deal with the issue without over-personalizing it is what will strengthen your relationship.
4. Your relationship will get boring.
No one likes to admit this one, but relationships go through many phases. There is the romantic phase which we all love which is typically when things are exciting, new, and fun. But, then there is the cooling off phase in which we get very comfortable with our partners. It’s when you fall into predictable patterns and habits. And with predictability and stability, it’s natural for things to cool off and become somewhat dull.
Don’t be alarmed. It signals that your relationship is in a good place. You have comfort with one another. And boring doesn’t last forever. Continue to infuse some spontaneous activities and engagements with one another to keep things interesting. Don’t freak out when things get boring. Relationships ebb and flow. When you love your partner, you will find ways to continue to enjoy who they are and the emotional value they bring to your life.
5. Building a strong relationship takes some effort and diligence. Relationships are work.
Anything you build that is solid with someone else will take time and effort. But, over time, it’s easy to take your significant other for granted. Being with one another on a daily basis, and adding in other dynamics of career and family can create some challenges even with the strongest couple.
Take the time to work on your relationship on a daily basis. I recall a client of mine who always said he worked on storing up as many good deeds as he could in his relationship. He compared it to having a jar which you are figuratively filling up with goodwill. His thought process was in doing so that when you built up a lot of goodwill, that in turn, it helped when things took a turn because there had been more goodwill then negative built between him and his partner. Build up your relationship daily with goodwill and good deeds toward your partner. It’s much tougher for a relationship with a strong foundation to falter versus one with a weak one.
6. Focus on your own relationship.
Each couple has their own dynamics. What works for one couple could be the downfall for another. Let me explain more. Often times couples can get in this competitive space by talking about what they do with and for one another to other couples who may try to duplicate the same things in a relationship. It’s normal to want to mimic positive behavior we see in others.
But, a couple that is truly happy with one another, realizes that they have to do what works for the two of them. They have to do what is in their best interests. If you like to spend time with each other and others in small doses, that is ok if that works for you. If the two of you are into having board game night every Tuesday, go for it! If the two of you like to be explorative sexually, that is your prerogative too. If you get your kicks from adrenaline type of activities, go and get it! My point here is that each relationship has its own flow. Find yours and go with it!
7. You may be attracted to someone else.
It’s a tricky one. But even if you love and adore your partner, it doesn’t mean all of your senses are turned off for someone else who could be compatible or attractive to you. Here is where you draw the line. Have self-awareness about the situation. Don’t put yourself in a scenario where you are vulnerable to the person. We’re human and there may be urges where we like someone, but having respect for your partner, yourself, and your relationship will help you fight against this temptation.
8. Vulnerability takes your relationship to a different level.
When you love someone and they love you, they are willing to love all parts of you. Every part of you may not be pretty, but part of vulnerability and acceptance is being able to look past the not so pretty aspects of someone and focus on all of the good things they have to offer you. And this is where vulnerability is crucial.
Vulnerability means your relationship is a safe haven. You should be able to share openly without judgment. You should be able to be yourself completely. Both of you should feel comfortable being uncomfortable with one another. When you are able to get to this point, your relationship will go to a completely different level.
9. It’s not just about you anymore.
Strong relationships recognize the value of operating as one unit. They don’t just see themselves in the equation. When you make a decision you think about how it impacts both of you. When you plan, you think about how it benefits or can affect both parties. Show me a couple who has this mindset and I’ll show you a couple that will be more successful, balanced, and happy.
10. Your sexual energy will change.
At the beginning of a relationship, when things are new and exciting, sex can be so intense. It’s normal. It’s easier to be intimate and often times you can’t wait to share that physical experience with your significant other (SO).
But, as your relationship grows, your sex life will change too. It’s not that you aren’t attracted to your partner or that you desire them less, it’s just with everything you have to balance, sex may take a back seat.
When you feel this coming on, take time to emotionally reconnect with your partner. Make time for intimacy even when you don’t want to do so. Sex does keep you emotionally and physically connected to one another. When you have a moment where things may be getting stagnant, mix it up, and think back to why you desired your partner in the beginning.
11. What attracted you initially to your SO may now turn you off.
Yes, all of that stuff you thought was cute that they initially did to and for you, might be the things that literally unnerve you. It’s normal. It’s kinda like the relationship you have with your siblings and family. You love them always.
But, it doesn’t mean you are immune from them getting on your absolute last nerves. The same principle applies to your relationship. While your partner may have some habits that are annoying, when you get too annoyed, try to refocus back on those things which make you appreciate them. Annoyance is normal, but often short-lived, especially if you don’t dwell on these feelings.
Being in a long-term relationship with the right person can be life-changing. It’s the best feeling to meet your match and be with someone with whom you can love and experience the same level of reciprocity. While it can be challenging to be in a long-term relationship, it is worth the effort for the right person.
When and if you start to feel frustrated about your SO, remember why you decided to take this journey with them. And most importantly, never undervalue having someone in your life who is willing to love you unconditionally and who helps you to be the best version of you.