I get asked a lot about my relationship with Nick. Aside from the standard, “When are you getting engaged?” one of the most common questions I get is if we’ve ever gone through any struggles. My answer to that? Yes, yes, and YES. Omg, I don’t know how anyone could have a different reply after spending eight years with the same person. PS I swear we will eventually get engaged– planning a wedding just isn’t a priority for us right now and honestly we already feel like we’re married. 😛
Nick and I have spent the better part of the last decade together and known each other all our adult lives. For those of you not familiar with our story here’s the condensed version: we met as freshmen in college (we lived on the same dorm hall!) and began dating at the beginning of our sophomore year. Since then we’ve pretty much been inseparable and even made the big move to New York finding an apartment together right after we graduated. This past August marked five years of living together! Some days I wonder where the time has actually gone.
Staying happy in a long term relationship isn’t easy and ours definitely hasn’t been a fairytale. I wish I could say that some of the milestone decisions that we’ve made as a couple (such as moving in together at age 21) were thoughtfully weighed, but in actuality were quickly decided on as a result of financial necessity. Neither of us could afford our own place after college, nor did we have any other close friends who were also moving to the big apple, so shacking up together was the most logical option. Of course it was what we both wanted and clearly it worked out, but gosh looking back things could’ve gone wayyyyyy left.
So what’s our secret? I wish I had a clear answer but I honestly don’t think there is one. I don’t want to say that I believe in the cheesy idea of soulmates per se, but I do think there are people you’ll meet (friends, romantic partners, etc.) that were absolutely meant to be in your life. People who you just “click” with in every aspect. That’s the best way I could describe my relationship with Nick. We just get each other and almost right away after going “Facebook official” (oh those college days) we both knew that we wanted to be together for the long haul. From the beginning we were an “us” if that makes any sense?
So I’ve mulled over this post for a while and I finally think I’ve pinpointed a few things that have contributed most to the success of our eight year relationship. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that “good communication is key.” Like, duh. How many times can that phrase be repeated? Not helpful.
No, today I’m going to keep it real because if we’re being honest it’s not just about love. There are so many other factors that contribute to a happy relationship besides a romantic and emotional connection. If you’re not on the same page or accepting of the serious stuff like your partner’s professional goals and personal morals, or their family, religious and financial values, you’re not setting yourself up for “forever.” You don’t have to agree on everything (who wants to be in a relationship with their clone) but it’s so important to talk openly about the not so fun topics.
Secrets To A Successful Long Term Relationship In Your 20s
You should love them more now than you did when you first met. Nick and I have both individually changed and evolved so much since age 19. We both feel like we’re completely different people now vs when we first met. Do we miss any of each other’s old qualities? Absolutely not. I would never trade any aspect of the Nick I see today, to get back something of the person he was a few years ago. The ways in which he’s changed and matured have only made me love him more.
You should always feel like you are becoming a better version of yourself being with them. There’s something wrong if you don’t feel like a better “you” in your relationship. Your partner should add positivity to your life by motivating, uplifting, supporting your goals and telling you that you’re beautiful. On the flip side, they should absolutely always give you constructive criticism and call you out when you’re wrong. I’m always working towards improving myself and I appreciate that Nick wants to help me do that (and I him) even if we aren’t always telling each other what we want to hear. We know that we both have each other’s best interests in mind and welcome not only praise, but honest critiques and feedback.
You should beam with pride introducing them to anyone you meet. This point is kind of random, but it’s something that’s stuck out to me after some interactions I’ve had with other women and couples over the last few years. I’ve observed moments where I’ve noticed people being embarrassed of their partner, opting not to bring them to a social gathering for fear of how they’d act (or them just wanting to appear single to other potential suitors…) or being apprehensive about introducing them to their coworkers. This has always dumbfounded me. I can’t imagine ever being embarrassed or ashamed for Nick to meet one of my friends, business parters or family members. I feel so lucky having him in my life and will literally sing his praises going on and on about how awesome I think he is to anyone who asks me about my boyfriend. I like to think that together we only make the other person look better, not the opposite.
You respect and accept the other’s values & morals. I don’t think it’s necessary to share the same opinions on everything with your partner, but if you do disagree on something whether it’s political or moral, you have to be willing to respect and accept their viewpoint without holding a grudge or being condescending. In a relationship you should never fear voicing your feelings on something for fear of your partner disagreeing or being offended. On the flip side, if your partner has a view that bothers you and you never speak up about it– it’s unfair to hold their opinion against them without letting them know that you dissent. People can’t read minds. I think it’s better to talk openly about controversial topics early on in a relationship and just lay out your opinions on the table because you never know what could be a deal breaker.
Your long term goals align. From the beginning, Nick and I were very much on the same page about our future. We knew we wanted to move to a large city with the goal of eventually getting engaged, starting a family and perhaps one day settling in the suburbs. It was important that we had all these conversations before we moved in together. If say, one of us was adamant about not wanting to have children or on the fence about eventually getting engaged, I don’t think we would’ve stayed together after college.
You always consider the other person when making decisions. Nick and I have always been very selfless in that we naturally think about how something would affect the other person and our relationship before making any decision. For example, neither of us would ever quit our job, confirm that we’d spend a holiday with one side of our family, make a large purchase, plan a trip, etc. without weighing how it would affect the other or discussing it with them first. We’ve always had the mindset that we’re an “us” and it’s not a “you” and “I.” Of course we both have our own individual identities and friends, but at the end of the day we always make decisions keeping in mind our relationship first.
Complete financial transparency. I would say that the majority of arguments and disagreements that we had our first few years as a couple stemmed from money. The financial strain of being poor college students progressing to post-grads with small starting salaries and massive student debt put a lot of pressure on both of us. When it came to expenses there was always a tug and pull of who should pay. Thankfully we both have advanced in our careers and deciding who will cover a dinner tab isn’t a matter worth arguing about, but I’d be naive to think that financial worry is in the past. Experiencing money troubles together forced us both to talk openly about our personal finances, develop responsible spending habits and contribute to our own savings and retirement accounts. Today neither of us makes a big purchase without talking about it with the other person. Not asking for permission per se, but just clueing them in to get their opinion. Nick and I share similar financial values so being on the same page on how we spend makes the not so fun decisions we have to make as a couple much easier.
You don’t keep secrets. I don’t think you can have a healthy relationship if you feel like you need to keep things hidden from your partner. I mean, of course I don’t tell Nick everything. I’m not going to waste his time recapping something insignificant that happened in my day, but when it comes to the big stuff involving family, finances, feelings– there’s nothing I don’t voice out loud. I also can’t think of one thing I would ever be embarrassed to tell or do in front of Nick. We’re complete open books with one another, though he honestly probably wishes there were some things that I kept to myself 😛
I think we can all agree that there’s no formula to having the perfect relationship. It hasn’t always been roses for us but with mutual love, respect and dedication, we’ve somehow always been able to get through the tough times and come out stronger. I hope this post is helpful and was able to give a little insight into our eight years– would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!