About four years ago, being in a relationship was something I really wanted to check off my list of things to have in life.
One thing I didn't realize before getting into my first serious relationship was the importance of loving myself before I loved someone else. From this experience, I learned valuable lessons about why self-love is so important.
Here are 6 things you should know before jumping into a serious relationship:
1. He could be an amazing person, but that doesn't mean he is amazing for you.
This is amazing advice that I received from my mom after my first heartbreak. While he could be an all-around "great guy," that doesn't necessarily mean he's the best guy for you. My first long-term boyfriend was one of the most influential people to me for a long time, but we had drastically different ideas about some key components in a relationship. He molded me into the person that he wanted, causing my true self to falter. Until we broke up, I didn't understand the difference between a great guy and a guy that is great for me.
2. Forgive, but be careful with second chances.
I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but the biggest mistake I made in my relationship was giving never-ending second chances. I allowed my self-worth to take a back seat over my love for someone else, which meant getting hurt over and over again. It also caused me to put my own thoughts and feelings aside in order to accept things I shouldn't have. I had to learn that even though I loved this boy deeply, I could not continue to let my emotional health get squashed.
3. Relationships require effective communication.
You've heard it a million times — communication is key to any successful relationship. It's especially important if you tend to overthink everything like I do. If you ask any of my friends, they'll tell you I stress about every little thing. Any minor miscommunication is the end of the world to me. In my past relationship, neither of us enjoyed having vulnerable conversations and that would almost always lead to arguments or having things left unsaid. We both went without the answers that were necessary to feel secure, which created a cycle of pain and stress.
4. Don't expect your significant other to change for you.
I always wanted a boyfriend who wasn't scared to show everyone he was in a committed relationship with me. Instead, I held onto a boy who wouldn't make time for me and didn't trust me after I moved away for school. I would express the pain this caused me regularly, to which he'd completely understand and tell me he'd do better. After about a week, things usually went back to the same routine as if I had never mentioned that anything bothered me at all. Because our communication styles were completely different, it was a struggle for both of us to compromise.
5. People leave — and that's OK.
One of the greatest fears in my life has always been that the most important people will leave without an explanation. That's exactly what happened with my ex. One day we were happy and the next he just wasn't in love with me anymore. I'm sure there were signs that we were growing apart, but I never expected things to happen the way they did. He wasn't just my boyfriend, he was my best friend. Our breakup was abrupt and caught me completely off guard. The first few months apart were excruciating, but the deafening silence taught me a valuable lesson: everything happens for a reason. People have a purpose walking into your life, but that doesn't always mean they're permanent. Ultimately, it may take months to stop missing someone, but it gets better with time.
6. Instead of resenting a past relationship, reflect on your growth.
No one is perfect in a relationship. My ex made countless mistakes in our relationship, but so did I. Rather than trying to understand my ex's perspective, I focused on my own reasoning. Instead of placing the blame on the other person, try to acknowledge the mistakes you made throughout the relationship and reflect on what you learned from them. Owning up to my imperfections and working to improve them has helped turn a heartbreaking experience into a positive one of self-growth.
Relationships are tough, especially when you're too emotionally attached to end it. I had to learn that there was a fine line between being selfless and giving too much of myself. I ignored all of the red flags that made it clear my relationship wasn't meant to be. In the end, I realized this was because I thought my relationship status defined me. I placed all of my value on a relationship when I'm worth so much more than that.
After being in a relationship for a little over three years, I was terrified to be by myself again. I didn't even know who that person truly was anymore. Through the silence of being alone, I realized that I was OK with being on my own. I've slowly learned how to love myself along with all of my imperfections and have never been happier.
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