Maya Angelou once put love and all our future relationships into perspective when she said, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” Love comes and goes and it can be easy to stop believing in relationships after you’ve been hurt time and time again. But it’s important to remember that your future relationships have nothing to do with your past heartbreaks and to reflect on the ways you want them to be different.
Here are the top ways you are thinking about your future relationships completely wrong and how you should rephrase your thoughts to be more helpful to your future love life.
1. Have A List Of Qualities You Are Looking For In A Partner
Some people will tell you that have set expectations for your future relationships is a bad thing, but that’s not entirely true. While it’s valid that you shouldn’t hold your future partners to impossible expectations and ideals, you shouldn’t feel bad about having certain qualities you look for in a partner. If you want kids, you’ll obviously want to look for a partner that also wants children. If you want a partner that has a good sense of humor and a kind heart, it’s okay to only date people who fulfill those qualities.
You don’t have to settle for anything less than exactly what you’re looking for. Standards are important and while it may mean it takes you longer to find your ideal partner, it’s okay to hold true to those standards so that you don’t find yourself unhappy and settling.
2. But Don’t Fall In Love With An Ideal
However, there is a downside to standards – sometimes your ideal overwhelms your reality, and your future relationships are doomed from the beginning because you aren’t really in love with them, but rather with an idea you’ve made out of them. People aren’t perfect beings, and even a partner who checks all your boxes will annoy or frustrate you sometimes. You have to learn to be okay with that and love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be. If they aren’t who you need, that’s okay too – you can always walk away.
Never date someone for who you think they could be or for who you want them to be. At the end of the day, you’ll both just be disappointed.
3. Don’t Bring Past Baggage Into New Relationships
The biggest way people think about their future relationships wrong is when they look at them through the lens of the past. If you expect every new person to be like your ex – whether for good or bad reasons – you can’t really see or appreciate your current and future relationships for what they are.
Don’t get into new relationships until you’ve let go of the baggage left over from other relationships. Otherwise, you will always be looking at your new partner through a convoluted lens, expecting them to be different than they actually are.
4. Saving Bits Of Yourself Isn’t Wrong
A big issue with love and future relationships is the idea that we have to give everything we are to someone else in order for the relationships to work. Here’s the thing: if you find someone who you can trust with your entire being, then that’s great! I’m so happy you’re so comfortable to be two halves of one whole. However, not everyone can do that. Some people need something that exists entirely as their own, something they don’t give to anyone else.
Whether that’s a hobby you do on your own, weekly dinners with your friends you don’t invite your partner to or just thoughts and feelings you don’t feel the need to share, it’s okay to keep those as just yours. As long as they aren’t harmful to your relationship, there’s nothing wrong with keeping parts of yourself separate and private.
5. Be Open To Learning New Communication Styles
Not all partners will communicate the same way, and in order for your future relationships to work, you have to be open to learning new styles and ways of communicating. One of the biggest problems with any relationship is a lack of communication, and in order for that to be fixed, all the parties of the relationship must be willing to listen and learn the other’s ways of communicating.
For example, it’s important to recognize how your partner communicates love (i.e. what is their love language). There are five definitive love languages–Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Quality Time–and if you understand how your partner expresses love, you won’t be as easily susceptible to misunderstandings about if and how they love you.
6. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Be In Love To Be Whole
At the end of the day, the biggest mistake people make in future relationships is believing that they have to be in love to be whole (I blame Disney and romcoms). One thing you need to believe before getting into a relationship is that you are enough without one. You are wonderful and whole and worthy of love even if you are not in a relationship, and you don’t need affirmation from someone else to prove your worth.
If you get into a relationship based purely on the idea that you need to be in love to be whole, then you’ll be falling for the idea of love, not actually falling in love with your partner. This will be a really disappointing revelation down the road, so make sure that when you start your future relationships, you are doing it because you found someone worthy of love, not because you don’t think you are not worthy without love.
7. Never Be With Someone You Have To Hide Yourself For
Lying of any kind is a detriment to any future relationships. If you have to lie to your friends or family about your partner or your relationship, then it’s a huge red flag that the relationship isn’t one worth being in. But also, if you have to lie to your partner about any part of who you are to keep them happy, then the relationship is also not worth being in.
You should be with someone with who you can be completely and fully yourself, and you shouldn’t have to hide your interests or your thoughts and feelings in order to make sure your partner likes you. If they don’t want you in your entirety, you don’t need them.
8. You Never Owe Anyone Your Time
At the end of the day, even if your future relationships are positive experiences with good people, you don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t owe people your thoughts or feelings, you don’t owe them your time, and you certainly don’t owe them your heart. It’s okay to walk away when you realize the relationship doesn’t work anymore. While it can be hard to see that sometimes – especially if you’re with someone who is kind and good to you – it is a lot better to cut relationships off when you realize they aren’t the one than keep it going for the sake of saving face.
9. If They Don’t Want All Of You, Then They’re Not The One
Once again, I reiterate – when you’re considering your future relationships, recognize that if they don’t want all of you as you are, then they’re not the one. “Grease” was entirely incorrect when it taught us that we need to change who we are to get the man. You don’t have to change anything about yourself if you don’t want to. Just like how you can’t expect your partner to live up to an impossible ideal, they can’t expect you to, either.
The other day I was listening to Maisie Peters’ song “John Hughes Movie,” and it really struck me how right she is when she says “If you don’t want me, then you’re not the one.” You shouldn’t have to convince someone to love you. That’s not your job. You are worthy of love just as you are, so never let someone convince you of anything different.
10. Every Day Won’t Be Magical, But That Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Worth It
If you take away nothing else from this article, then at least remember this message: when you’re thinking about your future relationships, it’s important to recognize that not every day will be magical. Some days will absolutely suck and even the best, kindest, most perfect partners will annoy the hell out of you sometimes.
But that doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t worth it. No relationship will be perfect all the time, and the most important thing is recognizing which ones are worth working on. Choose a relationship that doesn’t feel like work, but that you are willing to work for.