15 Lessons About Love Taught By Experience
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There are some lessons we can only learn over time…(or, by reading about them).
The gift of time comes along with gifts of its own, including valuable lessons in life and love that we learn through experience.
Self love, intimate love, family love, friendship love — love is a cornerstone of living a fulfilling life, but pursuing unhealthy or toxic attachments that look like love can be harmful.
Knowing what healthy love looks and feels like is integral to our overall happiness. Here are some lessons that experience teaches us along the journey:
1: To appreciate the gift of time itself.
Time will teach us valuable lessons, but time itself as the vehicle is what we first must learn to appreciate. We take it for granted too often as each hour, day, week, month, and year passes us by. Suddenly we are celebrating another birthday, or another holiday, or another milestone that once seemed light-years away. Time can pass quickly, which is why staying present and aware is so important.
As a limited commodity, maturity will teach us to appreciate it when someone spends their time with us more than when they spend their money on us. They are giving us a piece of our lives that they cannot get back — which is the ultimate sign of real love.
2: You must love someone for who they are, not for who you want them to be.
This one is often learned through frustration and heartbreak as we try to “fix” or “help” someone. We want so much more for them than they want for themselves and think that if we just love them the right way, they’ll realize their potential and start living up to it.
Experience teaches us that for someone to change, they must make the decision to do the work and become the person they’re capable of being. Until that happens, you will be trapped in a negative pattern of disappointment as you find people who you see as projects rather than partners.
3: It is better to be single than in the wrong relationship.
In our younger years, it’s much easier to get caught up in the appeal of getting into a relationship just for the sake of being in one. It makes us feel better socially, or more accepted for who we are, or that we have someone else’s approval — all things that we learn to find within ourselves as we get older.
The more that we feel a deep sense of fulfillment and self love, the less we seek it out from external sources. And, when we no longer feel that need, we become empowered to remove people from our lives who don’t meet our standards.
4: If you hold onto your past, you will never experience your future.
History only repeats itself for people who refuse to learn from it. In order to move forward and accept happiness in our lives, we need to be willing to leave the past behind us. We should pack up the lessons it taught us in a carry-on and bring them along so we don’t make the same mistakes again, but cut the string on the dead weight.
The windshield is larger than the rearview for a reason — it’s good to glance back at where you have been, but if you focus on it you will surely crash.
5: Your partner should put in equal effort to make you happy.
Great relationships aren’t about give and take, they’re about give and give. You will know you’ve found the right partner when they continue to show you how much you mean to them, long after they’ve got you.
6: Some people unfortunately just kind of suck.
If you are anything like me, you will always want to see the good in people and search high and low in order to find something great about them. There will be people you come across who seem to make this task impossible. Accept them for who they are and allow them to go on their merry way without you. Life is too short to allow that negativity into your life.
7: Substance is sexy.
Yes, physical attraction is important in any intimate relationship — but experience quickly teaches us that it, alone, cannot maintain a deeper connection through life’s challenges or the normal trials and tribulations of a relationship.
Substance, depth, integrity, dignity, intelligence, compassion — among other qualities — are what is truly valuable in a partner.
8: Sometimes, things just don’t work out.
An ended relationship doesn’t always have to be someone’s fault. It doesn’t have to be a catastrophic event or seen as a failure. There are times in life where two people just don’t mesh well together intimately, and the compatibility simply isn’t there. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can gain clarity around why it didn’t work, and move forward.
9: You cannot rely on someone else to make you happy.
People who search for happiness in a relationship [when they haven’t yet established it in themselves] never seem to find it. Why? Because you need to get your own life in order first, and then share it with someone. If you are not happy being single, you will not be happy in a relationship.
10: You can survive 100% of your hardest days.
We all face tough times. Heartbreak, ends of relationships, challenges in life. Things that make us say “I don’t know if I can handle this.” We use this as an expression to define the significance of a situation — but if you are reading this right now then you have a 100% success rate at handling tough times in your past, and you will be able to do it again in your future.
11: Honesty is always king (or queen).
When we are younger, we all want to have fun and are a little more carefree. But as we mature, we understand the value of just being up front and honest about what we want. In the same vein, we appreciate it all the more when someone does this for us in return. There is a time in one’s life when there is no interest in games or dishonesty.
12: Relationships take work, but they shouldn’t BE work.
Not everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows and little bunnies hopping through fields. There are going to be challenges you face in life and in your relationship. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that everything is going to be easy and should flow completely naturally for the rest of your life and that you’ll never have an argument.
But, the good should outweigh the bad. You should feel as though your teammate is enhancing your life, not complicating it. If it feels like it will crumble if you don’t spend every waking moment trying to make it work…then let it crumble.
13: It is important to maintain your own interests.
It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of someone new during the beginning stages of a relationship. You might want to be around them constantly, which is great if the feeling is mutual! But over time as the relationship evolves, it is important for both people to continue pursuing their own passions and interests — especially because this is what drew our partners to us in the first place. Co-dependence is not the foundation you want to build for a healthy relationship comprised of two happy, fulfilled partners.
14: You must treat your relationship as a team.
One of the most important lessons I’ve taken from watching my parents for 36 years of my life (they’ve been together over 40) is that they approached everything as one cohesive team. Nobody is perfect and every relationship faces challenges, but they are much easier to overcome when we are standing next to our partner facing the outside world and all of its changing circumstances, than if we are facing inward at each other looking to place the blame.
It’s not “me and me,” it’s “we.”
15: You are worthy of love.
Perhaps the most important but most difficult of all to learn — you are an inherently valuable human being who is worthy of the love that you’re willing to give other people.
Truly embracing this self-worth and self-love can be a years-long process than looks different for all of us, but it really is a result of experience and inner work in many areas of life.
Once you truly understand your worth, you’ll stop negotiating it and giving your time to people who don’t deserve you.
The amount of self-love you have directly dictates the quality of love you accept from anyone else. Develop that first, and anything below that standard will begin to fall away.
This article was originally published on Medium.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.James Michael Sama
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