The Best Relationship Advice I've Ever Received
by Geo Sique
There is no right or wrong. There is no should or shouldn’t.
These words have helped me the most as I have meandered through the world of almost relationships and leftover love.
The first time I heard it, it was in a counselor’s office. I had recently lost my main group of friends while my significant other stayed with them. We still saw each other between drama and a tug-of-war of me trying to get him to leave them, too.
We had a history. We had been together, broken up, but never really ended things. We cared for each other, but between the rivalry of the past group and his need to put all his time into his engineering career in order to pass his classes, things were hard.
All my friends told me that I should leave him, forget about him and move on. I thought they were right. I thought the counselor would tell me the same thing. I walked into her office prepared to walk away being told never to speak to him again.
Instead, she told me that there wasn’t a right or wrong. She said that it was up to us to figure out what was right for us. I walked away feeling lighter, no longer feeling like I was doing something wrong.
It was the best relationship advice I had ever heard. I’ve only heard it a couple other time from friends or family, but every time I hear it, the same feeling of lightness envelops my brain. Perhaps it’s the release from judgment, the acknowledgement that I do know what’s best for me. In the world of shifting relationships, there is no better advice.
Away with Traditional
I think one of my biggest stressors was due to a societal notion that relationships should be a certain way. Even though I didn’t care — or tried not to care — about what other people thought, it was the expectation of others that caused me the most stress during that time.
It seems like basic advice; everyone has their own way of doing things and that is no different with relationships. However, when the closest people in your life make you feel like you are doing something wrong, it can be hard to think for yourself.
Luckily, millennials are best known for reinventing traditions and doing things their own way. We are quickly doing away with a lot of traditional relationship rituals. I like that my generation is making life their own and not accepting the way things were done before. Perhaps this is the epitome of all young people, to reinvent and rejuvenate the way things are done.
Older generations often regard this as a childish rebellion. While they’re not right about the former part, they’re not wrong about the latter. We’re rebelling against key traditions of the patriarchy that have long marked women as property.
For example, a father walking their daughter across the aisle is tradition because daughters used to be traded as property. Though that no longer happens in the Western world and now the tradition is more of a symbol of a father-daughter bond, the patriarchal vestiges mark modern day traditions just the same.
Create Your Own Rules
If your goals for having a partner include any combination of living together, having kids, or getting married, then you will need to establish a set of rules within your own household. Everyone you talk to will have their own opinion about your rules, but you need to remember that your relationship is between the two of you only.
In order to maintain a strong foundation with your partner, you need to make sure to communicate and respect each other for who they are, not who you want them to be or what others might want them to be.
Relationship guru John Gottman states that the success of a relationship can be predicted by what he calls “bids for connection.” Gottman said that just “eavesdropping on a couple’s conversations could almost always tell him whether a divorce was in their future.” This all depended on how each partner responded to each other.
Another example of younger generations creating their own rules is reinventing the manner in which last names are handled. Now, with the legalisation of gay marriage and the rise of feminism, it isn’t always a matter of the bride taking the groom’s name. Because of this, couples are choosing to take the bride’s — or one of the bride’s — last names or are coming up with an entirely new name.
Of course, some people in older generations and those who value tradition disapprove of these new ways. Though it may feel scary at first, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to be in a relationship, and you and your partner just need to depend on each other to figure things out.
Sadly, there are specific times when this advice doesn’t apply. In cases of physical or emotional abuse from either partner, you need to put health and safety first. For the most part though, relationships require a sanctity independent of others’ opinions.
Sometimes, the path to a successful relationship might seem blurred. As humans, we tend to make a lot of mistakes, and as a society, we can be too quick to condemn them. In order for a relationship to succeed, both partners need to listen to each other above all. After all, as long as no one is getting hurt, there is no right or wrong.