Relationships

7 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Relationship

A relationship is not just about roses, wine, and chocolates. Developing a healthy relationship takes some hard work and dedication on both sides. I had to learn this the hard way, so I’m here to tell you some of the things I wish I had known before committing to some of my past relationships.

So if you’re about to jump into the next pair of open arms, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

1. Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons

Yes, being in a relationship can be a beautiful thing. Being able to share your life with someone, to grow with someone, and be secure in the knowledge that there is someone else in the world who truly understands you and loves you despite all your flaws. Who wouldn’t want all that? But before you get too hasty, make sure you’re in it for the right reasons.

A relationship is not worth it if you are doing it because of any of the following reasons:

  • You feel like the clock is ticking: Time is running out! You’re getting older, and everyone else is getting married or having children, so you feel pressured to catch up to them.
  • You’re sick of being alone: Every time you go out with your friends, they always seem to be bringing their SO or talking about them while you’re stuck being the third-wheel. You just want to feel the same connection, and have someone to come home to.
  • You think being in a relationship will make you happier: Your life sucks, you’re all alone, you hate your job, and everyone you know seems so happy in their relationships. You want to feel as happy as they look, and maybe finding a partner is the answer.
  • Your 5-year plan says you should be in a relationship by now: While you were still in school, you had this plan that you’d be married and have kids by the time you’re 26. Now you’re 26 and still single—what happened? Time to get out there so you can stick to your schedule, quickly!

Basically, any reason that makes you feel pressured to enter into a relationship should be treated as a warning that you may not be going into it for the right reasons. I firmly believe that the only reason you should be entering into a relationship is because YOU want to and because he/she is the best person you’ve ever met. It may be idealistic, but I’m a romantic, so sue me (figuratively! :P).

2. Your life will change whether you want it to or not

If you’re expecting your life to stay the same after starting a relationship; if you’re hoping to stay the same, think again. Allowing another person into your life will inevitably change you and your way of life. If you’re not ready to let someone else’s habits, values, and opinions bleed into your space, then maybe you should wait a little before entering into a serious relationship because the key to a healthy relationship is compromise and understanding. And in order for these two things to exist, your worldview will change. Learn to accept that fact and understand that that is how you grow and it is how horizons are expanded. If you’re not ready for all that, then maybe you’re not ready to invite another into your life.

3. Your partner may not have the same life goals

As much as we all love the idea of meeting that one person who’s just like us and with whom we can explore the world as two halves of a whole, the reality is quite different. Whether you like it or not, your prospective partner is his/her own person with his/her own goals, ideals, and dreams. So, be prepared to find out that they may have different plans for their lives, and be ready to have to do some mutual compromise if both of you want to stay together. Essentially, if you’re not ready to meld your plans for your life with that of your partner’s, then you may want to wait until you’re willing to tweak your plans a little.

4. Be prepared to discuss money

In the first couple dates, some couples may decide to go halfsies, and some guys may insist on paying the bill. In any case, the boundaries between your wallet and your partner’s wallet are very set in stone. But when you’ve dated for a few years, and assuming you haven’t married yet, be prepared for your wallets to merge slightly. It’s not realistic to keep track of every meal you’ve eaten together, every movie, every event you’ve ever attended together. In fact, that may have a negative impact on the quality of your relationship. So if you feel uncomfortable with the concept of fuzzy financial boundaries, you may not be ready to move on to the next stage.

5. Be prepared to talk more than you ever have before

Any healthy relationship is built upon a solid foundation of healthy communication and mutual understanding. When you think you’ve met “the one”, the greatest pitfall will be to assume that just because he/she is “the one”, they will automatically know how you think, and can understand all your quirks. The latter will come naturally as you get to know each other more, but as for the former, let’s just say mind-reading is not something humans can do. I believe that any arguments are a result of bad, ineffective, or lazy communication, and is exacerbated by one’s inability to maintain an open mind. So if talking about feelings is something you’re not used to doing, I highly suggest you start practicing before entering a serious relationship. Because I can assure you, a relationship will crumble very quickly without effective communication to resolve the countless misunderstandings that will arise throughout the course of your relationship.

6. There will be no more secrets

Your privacy is still to be respected, of course, but if you insist on only showing the best sides of you and hiding everything else, your relationship may never progress. The person who sees you for who you truly are, without makeup, before your shower, in your foulest mood, and still loves you, is someone worth keeping around, in my opinion. So what’s the point if you keep half of yourself hidden away? Your partner will never get to know the real you, and you may lose many chances of finding “the one” because you won’t let them see you. Make sure you’re comfortable with the idea of sharing yourself with someone to maximize your chances of developing the relationship in a healthy manner.

7. Baggage will suffocate your relationship

On a similar line to the previous point, we all have skeletons in our closets. The important thing to remember is that it is your choice whether or not you decide to let all your baggage from previous relationships affect your current one. Remember that everyone is different, and if you have been hurt in a previous relationship, it’s easy to find the same warning signs in the person you’re currently seeing. There’s no easy answer to whether or not you should continue to devote time and energy into a relationship, especially when you’re afraid a past experience may repeat itself. But if you keep a wall up, and are constantly looking for warning signs or waiting for alarm bells to start ringing, you may kill a perfectly happy and healthy relationship. So make sure you’re ready to let your baggage go so you can get to know the person in front of you without comparing him/her to anyone you’ve known before.

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to accept all the above, then I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world in your new relationship! Romance is most definitely a thing, but romance alone cannot sustain a relationship. You’ll be just fine as long as you keep this in mind.

Have you learned anything else from your own experiences in romantic relationships?

Previously published on liinon.wordpress.com

Kaitlyn Lo

Kaitlyn is a blogger and professional writer. While specializing in health and relationship topics, she also writes articles on a variety of topics, including culture, food, technology, and politics. Her written work can be found on pilcrowmagazine.com and on her website.