A common thought passing through any 20-something’s head is “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Those who’ve been through the ringer when it comes to relationships have learned a thing or two during each round…or hopefully, they have. This list compiles the top 10 things I wish I knew about relationships at 18.
1.You live, you learn
The most important thing I wish I knew about relationships at 18 is that, no matter what, you learn from them. Whether your partner is controlling, brow-beating or whatever the case may be, at the time, you’ll likely ask yourself, “WHY ME?” But, guess what? The reason why is you learn through experience. You learn that you don’t want this quality in your partner. And now that you know the signs, you can avoid it in your next venture.
2. When you enter a relationship, know what you want out of it
In your mid-to-late teens, you’re probably not thinking ahead. All you seem to want at the moment is to be wanted, to have sex, and to be able to say you’re “in a relationship.” But when it comes down to it, you should know what you and your partner want before someone gets hurt. If you both just want to have fun, that’s great. But if one wants more than the other, the relationship will end in pain and heartache.
3. You cannot force someone to want what you want
When you do know what you want, find a partner who wants the same, because you can’t force someone to commit to you if they don’t want to. And neither should someone expect you to have a fling if you’d prefer a serious relationship.
4. Trust your gut
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if someone is just saying they love you and want the same things or if it’s actually the case (read our article “How Do You Know Someone Loves You” here). Sometimes even they don’t know. This is where your intuition is your best friend. If your gut is telling you not to trust your partner, then there’s probably a reason.
5. Fighting is normal, but fighting constantly is not
You’ll get into squabbles in any relationship, whether it’s a romantic one or not. Disagreements and hurt feelings are normal. But when disagreements and hurt feelings are all there is, then it’s not a relationship worth having.
6. Don’t expect your partner to “complete you”
Yes, we all sigh at that line from Jerry Maguire, but when it comes down to it, you should come to the relationship as a whole person. Only then can you contribute to the relationship in a mature way. Expecting someone to fill some hole in you is like coming to a race on a gimpy leg. You’re not going to win, and no one is going to fix you. You must be whole yourself before entering a relationship.
7. Your partner should fulfill you
That being said, being with the person you love should be a fulfilling experience. It shouldn’t drain you or make you feel empty inside.
8. Don’t hook up with friends
This may be a no-brainer to us 20-somethings, but 18-year-old you probably thought hooking up with your besties was the best kept secret. I mean, what’s better than connecting with someone not only emotionally, but intimately as well? The thing is, your friendship will likely collapse if you get physically. Unless you want to move your relationship from friendship to something more serious, hook-ups are ill advised.
9. Don’t compare your relationship to others’
One of the most important things I learned in my 20’s is that comparing yourself to others in any way, shape, or form will land you in depressionsville. This is especially true of relationships. There’s no reason to look at your best friend’s love cuddle with her partner and ask, “Why doesn’t my man cuddle me more?” or look at your brother’s partnership and wish your girl looked at you the same way as his looks at him. Just be in your relationship and try and improve upon it if something isn’t the way you want it to be.
10. Happiness should be your priority
In the end, happiness is the reason you enter into any relationship. Your partner should make you happy, nine times out of ten (preferably ten out of ten…but that’s a little unrealistic). If he/she doesn’t, then it’s time to find someone who will.
These are just some things I wish I knew about relationships at 18. To learn more about your past relationships and mistakes, read the “Top 10 Reasons Why Our Exes Leave Us.”
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