Valentine’s day is quickly approaching so I figured I’d roll with it and tap into my past self for this post. Years and years ago I was a professional matchmaker for high-end dating service. Now, the typical reaction I get when I tell people this is shock and a bit of disgust… this is the point that I make it blatantly clear I was not, nor ever will be, an escort. Rather, think of it more as a professional legal pimp… sans the gold tooth, cane, and outlandish outfits. No hat either…
During my time at *undisclosed private matchmaking service (UPMS)* I learned a lot about the subject of love. At the time I didn’t apply the lessons I learned, though in hindsight I really should have. It certainly would have saved me a lot of heartbreak. Perhaps its experience that teaches us to look for the red flags… even back then I knew what red flags were, yet I still skipped off into the sunset with the knight wrapped in aluminum foil. Not again. My knight has titanium armor and it’s glorious.
I. Does the person you fancy encourage you to grow? Do they challenge you? Are you finding yourself naturally striving to be better? If not, you need to take a good hard look at the relationship and what you hope to achieve. The relationships you enter where there’s no drive to succeed, no challenges, no growth encouragement… those are the ones that stagnate over time. Sure, it may all be hunky-dory in the get-go, but ask yourself this; Do you really want to be someone with a personality akin to a doorknob? The world has enough of those out there. Challenge yourself, encourage one another to succeed and grow. Not only will your relationship vastly improve, but you’ll get the joy of discovering what it is to really live. The bonus is that you get to do it with the someone who makes your heart beat a little faster. When we’re all old and grey and riddled with dementia, don’t you want your memories to be fond ones?
II. Cultivate your relationship every.single.day. Ladies, how many times have you been in the position where one day everything is coming up roses, you’re on top of the world, love fills your heart, and the next day you literally have no earthly idea where you stand? Maybe it’s that he didn’t text you all day, or keeps forgetting that thing you told him about and have subtly hinted at ad nauseam on the daily. On the flip side, maybe you find yourself less and less excited when the notification goes off on your phone, or maybe you’re just hangry and need to eat a damn snickers. Regardless of which side of the coin… stop it! Take a deep breath, create a plan of action, and cultivate your relationship. Remember all the hard work you put in at the beginning? Newsflash… relationships take work! Take a moment to ask about their day or leave a sweet note for them… something, just understand that when you do this, you have to really do it. Don’t half-ass it. Really listen to their answers or make that note sincere and genuine. If it’s impossible for you to execute on even the smallest gestures (which should honestly just come as second nature) than I strongly suggest you take a massive step back and analyze the relationship. Call a spade a spade if you have to, but don’t lead someone on and certainly don’t stick around if they’ve made it obvious you’re merely an option or a thing of convenience. Cultivate.
III. Communication is absolute key. If you can’t talk to your partner, than why are you with them? If sex is your answer to that… why’d you escalate beyond f.w.b. situation? Communication is key. You should be able to tell your partner anything and the lines of communication should always be open and honest. This sets the bar and the tone for the entire relationship, not to mention the slew of benefits that you can reap from it. Now, for an anxiety riddled person such as myself… this is the golden ticket, holy grail, whatever you want to call it. If you’ve been in a prior relationship where you spent more time deciphering them by their opposing actions, sorting through the lies, guessing what they’re up to… I can promise you that you’ll appreciate and benefit from being with someone who actively communicates with you. This goes hand in hand with trust. Personally, I don’t believe that you can have one without the other. Let’s get super real… this means you also have to actively communicate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled all over my own words trying to describe or say something that I felt was silly or irrelevant… but the amazing thing is when you find that partner that knows how to actively communicate with you, your communication to them will be rewarded. You won’t be condescended to for opening up, you won’t be criticized, you won’t be coming out of the conversation feeling worse off than you did before. It’s the opposite. You’ll feel free, bonded, rewarded… in the sense that you can truly be yourself. No false pretenses, no facades, just you.
IV. Support one another. Okay, this one is huge… well, in reality all five of these are necessary for a healthy lasting relationship. Support one another, even if it’s something small like telling your partner to kick ass and take names as he heads to work, support counts. Being supportive of your partner does not however, mean blind support. Inevitably down the line in your relationship you’ll have a few complaints, or maybe some criticism, grievances you need to air… (Festivus, anyone?). You can still be supportive and communicate, but remember the key here is constructive criticism. Do not allow your words or actions to be full of contempt in these instances. Supporting one another comes first… first and foremost. For instance, the painting I did the other day… in a previous chapter of my life, had I done that with my ex-husband or even the ex previously mentioned in posts, I can tell you exactly what they would have said to me. “The nose is wrong, the eye is off-balance, that’s crap, why even bother to paint.. it’s not good and you’re terrible at it.” This is not support. Support says, “Wow, good job babe!” or if there was to be suggestions / constructive criticism, “Looking good, the nose line looks just a little off, maybe bring it out a bit more and it’ll look even better.” Support doesn’t have to blind and like I said, it dances hand in hand with communication. Build one another up (realistically). Case in point, I have the wild idea to study and sit for the LSAT soon. I told my boyfriend, “crazy idea, I think I’m going to study up and sit for the LSAT, weighing my options.” Do you know what I got as a reply? “Why is that crazy, you would rock that shit!” That is support. Communicate and be supportive of one another. If you have complaints, tell them. Do not criticize. Don’t stonewall or let your words turn defensive or into words of contempt. Support your partner and always take time to appreciate the support you receive. Have each other’s six.
V. Respect and appreciation are monumental. The key points listed above tie hand in hand with this. Respect one another and appreciate one another. This carries weight all across the board, from big romantic gestures to the little things. It may mean you crawl out from under the warm cozy covers to bring them a glass of water or fetch their phone charger that’s still plugged in out in the living room, or it could mean that you drop what you’re doing to help them out with a problem or issue they’re having. I’m not talking about catering to every single whim or fancy… if you do that then you’ll have no time to maintain your own independence, but show them you care, that you appreciate them, and that you respect them. Don’t let go of who you are in the process, maintain your own interests and allow them to do the same. In the same breath, be willing to try out some of their interests and hobbies as well. He puts in the effort after working a long day… offer up a back rub. Do something to make their life easier. Respect goes both ways, appreciation goes both ways.
My years as a matchmaker taught me a lot. Granted, all of this should be common sense but unfortunately, common sense isn’t common. Too many people hold a sense of entitlement. All of these go both ways. If you want longevity and a healthy relationship it’s important to self-reflect and focus on what you’re doing to make it happen. Stop focusing solely on what you want them to do and focus on what you’re putting in. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If it’s not meant to be, it’ll become blatantly obvious as the relationship becomes even more one-sided. Above all else, keep your chin up… else the crown slips. Focus on the positive and what you can control. Put in the effort and I promise you, it’ll come back tenfold.