Picture the scene: a young twenty-four-year-old female sobbing into a tub of ice-cream because her latest crush had disappeared off the face of the earth like the many before him.
It was her first romance since her previous (and only) long-term relationship. And just when she thought she was getting somewhere with twenty-first-century dating, she was back to square one and feeling more deflated than ever. Humph.
If so, I feel for you. This girl was me a few years ago. And this scenario didn’t just occur once – it happened multiple times.
Although it sometimes felt like the end of the world when things didn’t work out, I don’t regret anything I’ve gone through with relationships in the last glorious decade. It’s taught me a lot about what I do and don’t want, which is probably why I’m happily loved up with my American other half at the moment.
More specifically, here are 10 lessons about love that I feel like every millennial should know.
1. Love Is Hard
Lessons about love 101: love sucks. Don’t get me wrong, relationships can be great – but they can also be a serious pain in the you know what.
Contrary to what you see splashed all over social media, love has many downs as well as ups. It’s not smooth sailing and you have to be prepared to voyage across choppy waters (sometimes unexpectedly) to get to the calm on the other side.
You can be in the best mood ever one day, only for your world to come crashing down because your partner chose to go out on the lash instead of seeing you/forgot to text you on your birthday/left the dishes when he promised he’d clean them (delete as applicable). You can’t just worry about yourself anymore – you have to consider your partner in everything you do.
2. Love Is a Choice
Due to the fact that relationships aren’t always straight forward, I’ve recently been taught that loving someone is a choice you make every day.
Both partners have to want the relationship to work for it to survive, otherwise, you’re doomed.
In my experience, as long as you have open and honest communication and you’re both willing to hear each other out and compromise, then you’ll be just fine. If this isn’t the case, run.
3. Love Can Happen When You Least Expect It
Do you know the twenty-four-year-old girl who was sobbing into her ice cream tub after being dumped for the umpteenth time? She’d met a guy on holiday a year earlier who got back in touch and then they ended up going on a date when she was on holiday again in a nearby city.
The result? A friendly acquaintance turned into her next big relationship – and she’s still with him today.
My point is: it may sound corny, but what love teaches us is that a relationship can happen when you’re not even looking for one. And do you know what? This is often the best kind.
4. It Takes More Than Your Feelings to Make a Relationship Work
One of the top lessons about love I’ve ever learned is that your feelings aren’t the be-all and end-all in a relationship. I used to think that as long as I loved someone and they loved me back, I could make any relationship last.
Nu-uh. No, siree. It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid.
There’s a lot to be said for timing, circumstances and what page the other person is on. (For instance, if your BF is about to head off to university or you want to move across the country for a job.)
You can’t always control the situation and it leaves you feeling pretty vulnerable, that’s for sure.
But do you know what? If you manage to find someone who’s willing to work as just as hard as you to make your relationship last, hold onto them with both hands.
5. Follow Your Heart, But Use Your Head
Speaking of uncontrollable circumstances, perhaps one of the most important lessons about love I’ve learned in my twenties is to not let my feelings get in the way of being smart about a relationship.
For example, there are so many guys who have treated me badly in the past, but I’ve made excuses for them or not cut the relationship off when I should have because I liked them too much.
Then guess what happened? The relationship eventually ended, I was heartbroken and later I’d kick myself for not ending the damn thing sooner. Lesson learnt.
6. Every Relationship Has Its Own Hurdles
Comparisonitis is rife in the digital age; however, it’s important to remember that no relationship is perfect.
It goes without saying that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. That’s why you must always be kind to your friends and family members who need your relationship advice or a shoulder to cry on when their other half is being a class-A plonker.
Rocky relationships are real. Carefully curated, picture-perfect Instagram relationships with zero confrontation are not. Learn to know the difference.
7. Love’s Not What It Used to Be
Speaking of the online world, we’re in a different era now. Love isn’t what it used to be in your Grandma’s or even your Mum’s generation.
Sure, old-school romance might be harder to find, but it’s still out there. We’ve just got a whole new level of problems to deal with now thanks to social media. Sigh.
When it comes to free dating apps (like welovedates.com), they sometimes get a bad name, but it’s important to see them as just another way to meet people. They actually make it a lot easier to get yourself out there among other single people and mingle – and who knows what this might lead to?
8. Love Is Not a Romantic Comedy (Or Disney Film)
Perhaps one of the most frustrating lessons about love I’ve learned in my twenties, I blame a lot of romantic comedies and Disney films for giving young girls false ideas about relationships.
As much as we’d love it to be true, life is not like a movie. Things often don’t get tied up in a pretty pink bow, there are more complications than we’d like and it’s nowhere near as dramatic.
Also, I love Disney as much as the next person. Having said that, ladies – we don’t need a guy to come and rescue us when life gets tough. We can be our own darn superheroes. Never forget this.
9. Different Cultures Have Different Rules
Have you ever tried international dating? I have. It’s fun, but you have to remember that different rules apply in different countries.
Like for example, in England, you have “the talk” for a relationship to become official – right? In the US, you don’t. You just date someone and randomly start calling them your GF or BF once you’ve been seeing them a while.
Either way, heads up, you can’t just assume international relationships are going to be the same as national ones. In my experience, more communication, hard work and compromise is needed to make them a success (especially if there’s an ocean separating you or another language involved).
10. You’re Not a Failure if a Relationship Doesn’t Work
Finally, one of the most important lessons about love you can learn is that a failed relationship isn’t a reflection of you as a person.
Relationships don’t work out all the time for a number of reasons – such is life. You can’t blame yourself or look inward and ask what’s wrong with you or why you couldn’t make it work.
It takes two people for a relationship to progress and if his heart isn’t in it, see it as a blessing in disguise that he told you now instead of years down the line when you’ve invested even more time and energy.
Lessons About Love 101: Life’s Too Short
It’s no secret that I’ve learned many lessons about love (and life) in my twenties – and I’ve probably got many more to come.
That said, the one thing that sticks in my mind (now that I’m older and wiser) is that life’s too short to play games. I think both my patience and tolerance levels aren’t what they used to be when I was younger.
If a guy doesn’t love and appreciate me the way that I do with him, I’ll waste no time in saying goodbye – and good riddance.
What lessons about love have you learned in life so far?