The number one piece of relationship advice I have for anyone would be: fall in love with your best friend. Fall in love with someone who you don’t have to change yourself for, the one who adores your weirdest self, the one who you love for exactly who they are (not who they potentially could be), and someone that you never feel like you have to impress. That’s the one to fall in love with.
When all of the butterflies fly away and reality sets in, you want your relationship to be based on a foundation of friendship. I still have butterflies with Andrew (my husband), although sometimes life isn’t butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes, life just sucks. Although Andrew and I have only been together for a year, we’ve both been hit with some major things that we’ve had to deal with together. If you’re with the right person, when hardships come in it will make your relationship stronger, not destroy it. If in your dating of someone you start to see that they can’t deal with tough situations, you should probably re-evaluate your relationship. Even when things are hard in my life, (besides God), Andrew is the first person that I run to. He is my solid rock that I know will always comfort me, calm me down, give me the greatest advice, and help me to figure out and implement solutions. If your relationship is based on sex, success, other people’s opinions, or a few minor things in common… when those things aren’t great, what do you have left? The United States divorce rate is at an alarming 50%. Half of the marriages in our country fail. One of the biggest reasons for that is simply because when the going gets tough, half of Americans run away. Choose to be with someone who will go the distance when life is hard.
In every previous relationship, I’ve always changed myself to be someone that would best fit “them.” Not that I would fake anything, but I would show them the sides of myself that I thought would be most attractive to that particular person. Until Andrew, I had never shown a man my actual “full self.” If they were more intellectual, I would read more books, and we’d have only intellectual conversations. One was a musician and pretty much all we’d ever do was make music. A lot were not Christian, so I’d leave that out of our conversations, and I’d sneak away to read my bible and go to church. I didn’t realize it until I was with someone that I could be my full self around, but man I really changed myself for a lot of people. Andrew has seen every side to my personality, every part of my life, and we talk about pretty much everything. It’s such a freeing thing to not have to worry about “will they still like me if…”. Find someone that accepts you for who YOU are, not who you are pretending to be.
If you think marriage will somehow change the other person’s flaws that you hate, you’re wrong. Marriage only amplifies the person you already were before it. Don’t ever date or marry someone who you want to change. Love the person for their flaws and all. In a healthy relationship, you will naturally become better and better in time. I spent way too much time on relationships trying to force the other person to “not to do this” or “do this more.” It’s not healthy for you, and it’s not healthy for the other person. Focus on bettering yourself. If they truly are your best friend, they will want to make themselves better for you out of caring for you, not feeling obligated to. Then again maybe their differences make them perfect for someone else, so you should let them go if those differences don’t work for you.
I’m pretty positive that I’d qualify for a competition of the top weirdest women in the world (Andrew will attest), so finding someone who could embrace all of me was pretty impressive. There’s nothing that I could do that would make him love me any less. Even at my weirdest self, he just sits and laughs. His love is unconditional and never judgmental. I love that I can be myself 100% of the time. Best friends are real, raw, and authentic with one another.
There are 7 billion people in the world today. Don’t settle for someone that you can’t genuinely call your best friend. If you believe in marriage and plan on being married forever, that’s the majority of your life spent with ONE person. Don’t make the decision lightly, choose wisely.
(Photo of Andrew & I taken by Jordan Voth)