When it comes to relationships, I either feel way ahead of the curve or permanently trying to catch up.
Rarely do I feel settled or sure—which might explain why I’m nearing my mid-30s and still single.
I think most of us would agree that relationships are complicated. They take work. And part of that work is figuring out how to love, how to accept, and how to do life with someone who isn’t you.
For me, the past three years have been a series of relationships and breakups, or in some cases, connections that felt more like is-this-really-a-relationship and does-this-actually-count-as-a-breakup.
What I’ve learned is that our work is never done. Each relationship, each interaction with another human is an opportunity to see how we can show up for ourselves and others.
Are we repeating the same unhealthy patterns? Are we choosing partners who bring out our worst behaviors? Are we feeling like each relationship is pulling us farther away from what we want?
Or, are we learning to advocate for ourselves and our values? Are we embracing partners who are committed to our growth, and their own? Are we choosing to learn from our past and create something that will last?
When it comes to this work, I also feel like I’m way ahead of the curve in some ways, and permanently trying to catch up in others.
One tool I use when I’m struggling to figure out how to do this whole relationship thing is words and, these days more specifically, the words of author Sylvester McNutt.
His descriptions of mindful partnerships are both realistic and aspirational. He writes about the kind of love I hope to find, but also the kind of love I hope to give. One that pushes me to better myself. One that helps me find the balance between allowing my partner to be free and asking for what I want.
One that pushes me to feel settled and sure—without settling for less than what I deserve.
May they be of benefit:
1. “I don’t want my lover to feel caged, trapped, or enslaved. We don’t own each other so teach me how to help you feel free, light, and loved.”
2. “Show me how to love you. Tell me what you need. Tell me when I do what you like. If you’re silent I won’t know, so be loud and proud. Teach me how to love you.”
3. “Effort is everything for her. Respect is everything for him. Everyone wants the same thing, which is love, but we all do it differently.”
4. “Never obsess about chasing love. Chase goals. Chase dreams. Chase the behaviors that are going to make you better. You don’t chase love; you allow that to find you by accident, and when it finds you on accident, you’ll know that it was supposed to find you purposely.”
5. “You won’t deal with someone just because you’re lonely. Your growth has taken you past the point of sharing space with just anyone. Your soul craves a special someone or you’d rather deal with nobody at all.”
6. “Teach them how to work through a tough time, but if they don’t have it in them, don’t suffer trying to keep someone who doesn’t want to be kept.”
7. “Falling in love is great, but showing someone you love them consistently is even better.”
8. “I am tired of incomplete loves. Be my everything or be my nothing. I will no longer settle for half of someone’s effort or half of their attention. I want it all, I want it deep—I want it to feel complete.”
9. “Sometimes, the person you want is not the person you need. Don’t settle for who feels wrong; be patient and the one who feels right will come.”
10. “Before you get in a relationship you must heal the broken pieces inside of you. We must never make our partners of the future suffer because of the mistakes from our partners of the past.”
11. “He asked me how I was going to get her to fall in love with me. I said, ‘Easy, I’m going to get her to fall in love with herself.'”
12. “Grow a healthy relationship: talk about finances, wants, needs, goals. Support and encourage. Work through hard days. Touch each other daily.”