Knowledge is power—in life AND love—that’s why Tyler Jacobson has four relationship lessons he plans to share with his sons. Which one is your favorite?
Earlier this week I was feeling a bit introspective. My relationship journey has been rocky through the years, with periods of stability and happiness between raging storms. Looking at my sons, it made me wonder what their love lives would look like. Would they have to go through the trials I did?
There are certain lessons, harsh and sometimes painful ones, that I intend to pass on to those boys. I hope through teaching them what I had to learn on my own, I might ease their transition into romance and protect them from some pain. I feel that helping to manage their expectations is my responsibility as their parent.
This is advice that I’d give to ANYONE in the dating game. We get so caught up in fictional romance: movies, tv, music, books, and picture perfect social media accounts. I think a lot of us are stuck in an unrealistic place when we imagine what our relationships “should be.”
The Divorce Epidemic: The Myth
People tend to be cynical about marriage. The belief that half of all US marriages end in divorce has been prevalent for decades, and yet, it isn’t true. Due to the way divorces are measures, the number can seem inflated. But the actual numbers are a lot more positive than we have been led to believe.
Knowing that fewer people have been getting divorced in the last few decades can provide some immediate relief to those worried about taking the plunge into serious relationships, or remarrying after their own marriage fell apart.
But there are still some issues to address, and they are very relevant to the dating world today. Having seen the state of singledom in the year 2016, it is a frightening and confusing place. Tinder, “Netflix and Chill,” the hidden meanings behind hooking up or hanging out, catfishing… dating has become ludicrous and so confusing.
With all that stress, it is best to try and break free from the misconceptions we have held about romance that are also holding us back. Which is where these lessons come in. I sincerely hope that between these four harsh truths, and the fact that love is not as dead as some of us cynics may be so inclined to believe, a healthy and happy relationship can be attained by anyone.
Harsh Lesson #1 – Media Lies About Love
Falling in love in movies is so easy. Two humans with perfect physiques meet, are immediately attracted, and silly, gooshy madness ensues. But once they repair that third act breakup, their relationship is nothing but smooth sailing. They live happily ever after, and nothing ever tests the strength of their bond. Until the sequel, of course.
In real life, it is a lot more complicated. Relationships are hard, they take work on the part of both; compromises, sacrifices, fighting, and making up are regular events. Yet, we still expect love to work the way it does in romance novels and TV shows. We have given into the lie, and it has given us very skewed perceptions on what makes a relationship work.
No matter how much we wish dating could be as perfect as in a romantic comedy, this is reality. It isn’t like it is in the movies.
Harsh Lesson #2 – Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome
Have you ever heard of The Seven Year Itch? It is a phenomenon a lot of people in mature, long-lasting relationships will have encountered before. Time has passed, the excitement has faded into something more comfortable, maybe some problems are beginning to surface. Tensions rise, and you start to wonder if you are still “in love” with your partner. You think “I deserve better!” and “Someone else out there will have what this person doesn’t..”
This happens to everyone: 7 years in, 20 years in, and even just a year or two into your committed relationship. It is a sign that it is time to begin working together on bringing your relationship back to something healthy and attentive. It doesn’t always mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Go on dates, speak more openly, try and have fun, take part in conversations, get to know one another again.
This is when people often start to look at other options. They develop crushes on coworkers, or start flirting online. Suddenly they start to wonder if maybe they are falling for someone else. This is Grass Is Greener Syndrome, and it is a relationship killer. One that is very common, yet perfectly avoidable.
You won’t feel the butterflies all the time, and you may go years without a single tingle in your belly. Don’t let it trap you into thinking someone else will be better, only to lose what you already have. EVERY relationship goes through these phases.
Harsh Lesson #3 – Be Picky Now, Avoid Problems Later
I have heard people say that when you get older, you need to be less picky about who you date. Lowering expectations seems to be the common piece of advice given to those dating outside of their 20s. What a crock!
Settling for someone who doesn’t meet your needs is a quick way to ruining any chance at that happy, healthy relationship you are craving. It is important that you know what elements of a person’s personality are important to you, what are deal breakers, and what are things you might like, but aren’t 100% necessary to connect with someone.
This part is important though: If you know you have certain needs from a relationship (ie. quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch…) and you find yourself dating someone who cannot meet them, you may be better off parting ways. I’ve found that past relationships really suffered from that lack of fulfillment. But my wife now is a natural giver of my love language and it’s a huge bonus.
Harsh Lesson #4 – Realize Your Are Both Flawed, and That’s OK
This goes back to lesson #1 and the expectations we have for our partners. The truth is that no one is perfect, including ourselves. We will make mistakes. We will face rejection, even by those we choose to spend our lives with. We are all flawed, and have to accept that.
Learning to fight fair and forgive are among the most important lessons that can be learned for anyone. Otherwise we will never be truly happy with ourselves, or the ones we fall in love with.
Lessons Learned at Any Age
It is never too late to learn these lessons. In the great scheme of things, finding someone to love is easy. The keeping the relationship running and alive is the hard part. With the right frame of mind it is possible to find that happiness and satisfaction with the partner you have dreamed of.
About the Author
Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and freelancer, with experience in writing and outreach for parent and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has offered humor and research backed advice to readers on parenting tactics, problems in education, issues with social media, mental disorders, addiction, and troublesome issues raising teen boys. Connect with Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin