Love, Relationships, + The Importance Of Dating
Updated: May 8, 2019
Happy Valentine’s Day week beauts!! We’re back at it and discussing all things love, relationships, and dating. I’m by no means an expert, but I have always been quite observant in not only my own relationships, but friends and family relationships as well. What can I say, love and the reciprocation of love has always intrigued me. So, no I don’t have a degree, nor do I have 20 years of marriage under my belt, but Matt and I did have a lot of uhhh… hurdles thrown at us very early on… like finding out I was pregnant 10 months into dating. It honestly seemed like our dating time was cut so short. We would have typically been planning who we were going to see at our favorite music festivals that summer, booking flights to spend vacation somewhere tropical, and dancing the night away after a few margaritas, but instead, we were narrowing down what car seat to order, attending OB appointments, putting any marriage talk on the back burner, and discussing finances that quickly became an issue because I had quit a stable job to pursue my small business two months prior. This was our new life.
Before jumping into the depths of our relationship, I want to say that anything I share with you all is based from actual experience. It’s what we have found works for us, and although I’m speaking on broad based material that most couples struggle with, every relationship differs, so figure out what works best for the two of you and do it. Lastly, anything that I share between mine and Matt’s relationship is simply to help someone else with theirs. It’s not meant to bring light to either of our faults. I’m going to start by saying that any good love takes you falling in love with yourself first, and yes, I will always preach this. I’m going to follow that up with learning what you need in a relationship, and what you expect from your partner is a close second. This should be a clear, concise list that you could jot down if asked. I’m not referring to physical attributes, it’s obviously important that you’re attracted to your partner. What I’m talking about are the qualities you need once you’re in that relationship. I added my list below and gave a small explanation of why I knew these things were important for me.
Hard-Working/Work Ethic- It didn’t matter if this was at their actual job or around the house. I knew it was best that I met someone whose work ethic rivaled mine, for his sake mostly.
Attentive/Make Your Love Known/Put Forth Effort- Actions have always spoke louder than words to me.
Easy-Tempered- I knew I needed someone with a little more grace and patience than myself for this thing to work.
Open-Minded- I’m too open minded to be in a relationship with a closed minded person.
Knew When To Lead- One of the many qualities I adore about Matt, he’s a natural leader but it’s so quiet and reserved. I needed this in someone because it was a quality I had always loved about my dad. I was never attracted to guys who talked for the hell of talking.
Beliefs/Faith- They had to love Jesus. End. Of. Story.
Trust- I had never dealt with jealousy, so I knew I would never be able to date someone who had jealous tendencies.
I knew these things about myself, what I needed and expected, but I never really shared them with anyone because I didn’t date guys that didn’t offer the qualities I needed or possessed the qualities I didn’t need. Most of these characteristics came to Matt naturally. His work ethic was A+, our beliefs were spot on, he was my favorite person to talk politics and beliefs with, and being the saint he was, he never got mad. Oh, and I have never experienced him be jealous for a second of our relationship. So yes, the man is near perfect, but if you didn’t do the process of elimination yourself, Matt really struggled with putting in effort to plan dates. Seems like a minuscule issue to address, but the longer we were together, the less “real” dates we went on and the more “what are we doing tonight?” texts I received. I would make a comment here and there for him to say “I just don’t think to plan anything but I’m always down to do whatever you want.” Which was true, he was.
I did my best to accept that he just didn’t think to plan anything. I wanted that to be good enough because I didn’t want to be let down or disappointed and the last thing I wanted to do was intiate a fight. So I decided to lead by example, I figured if I planned date nights, surprised him with his favorite meals, or got up early to bring breakfast to bed, that he would eventually notice the effort and take note that that it was what I also expected from him in our relationship. But this didn’t happen, and because I was so prideful and didn’t want to communicate what I needed, I became let down, felt insignificant, and even angry. My thoughts would be “why am I not good enough for you to take time to put the effort into me, that I put into you?” But I just I couldn’t bring myself to say it... mostly because I didn’t want to have to say it. I wanted him to figure it out himself. I knew my worth, so why didn’t he? After months I realized that my response to his lack of effort wasn’t getting me anywhere. I also knew that I wanted Matt and our relationship more than I had ever wanted anything. I knew I had to talk to him.
The single most important part of any relationship is COMMUNICATION. You guys… communication is EVERYTHING. I failed Matt initially in our relationship by not telling him I needed him to take the initiative to plan a date occasionally… not only that I needed it, but that I wouldn’t accept less. Do you know the popular idea that men don’t understand women? Well this is true. We are so foreign to them. Their minds don’t operate like ours... So, I set aside my pride and verbally communicated how I was feeling. I wasn’t crazy for being let down by the lack of effort, but I was being unreasonable for thinking that Matt was going to learn what I needed from him when I wasn’t speaking up about how I felt. So there it was. I sat down and told him I deserve more effort. I deserved the effort of having a night planned for me, I deserved to be thought about before 6pm when it was time for dinner, I deserved more than saying “I just don’t think about it,” but not because I’m a girl, or because I’m selfish or needy, but because that’s the type of effort I put into him.
So note four things here:
1. I figured out what triggered my disappointment.
2. I established why I felt I deserved the effort I was demanding.
3. I verbally shared with Matt how the lack of effort made me feel.
4. I gave reasonable answers for why I deserved more.
Ex: I put this type of effort into our relationship and I expect the same in return… I feel irrelevant by you not taking the time to pursue me.
Leading me right into the next topic up for discussion, EFFORT and DATING. I asked this question on my stories last Sunday, “Do you and your s/o go on planned dates? I don’t mean grabbing dinner because there’s nothing to eat at home, but actually taking time to plan a date where you put your phone down and date like you did in the beginning… talk, learn, and listen?” 53% of people replied “YES” the other 47% said “NO.” So congratulations to the couples who have figured this out already, DATING IS IMPORTANT! ONE-ON-ONE TIME IS IMPORTANT! BEING PURSUED IS IMPORTANT! Here’s a scenario, imagine you’re on your first date with someone new, the conversation is lacking, the other person keeps texting or watching the tv nearest the table, small talk is made, and then it’s over and you head home. What are the chances you’d give that person another shot? Unlikely, right? So why is it that this is the type of date we often experience once we are in a relationship with someone? Why is that the harder we fall for someone and the more comfortable we get, the less effort we put in?
Mine and Matt’s first date was my favorite date ever. We went to PM, a sushi spot on Belmont Blvd here in Nashville. We ordered drinks for one another, and of course chose based on the name of the cocktail, giving no thought to what was in it. We shared sushi, told stories, traded drinks to see whose was better, and did all the flirty things you do on a first date. But nearly three years have passed and we’re comfortable… just like many of you. I know it happens in every relationship, but I didn’t want to settle for that. I didn’t want comfort to keep me from the passion I felt for Matt in the beginning… I’m not sure how many of you are avid FRIENDS fans but there’s an episode that comes to mind before Monica marries Chandler titled “The One With Joey’s Award” (season 7 episode 16) In it Monica confesses to Phoebe and later to Chandler that she’s scared to get married because she’ll never experience the excitement of dating someone new again, the first date, the first kiss, etc. (let me add that this love story ends happily ever after for those of you who have no interest in the 90’s sitcom.) But we can all relate to the excitement Monica is referring to, the firsts, the unknown, the staying up late to learn everything about that person… but why does this end when you become serious with someone. You don’t have to stop pursuing and dating one another because you’re 10 years in. At least that’s not what I want. I don’t want Matt to just love me, I want him to like me. I want him to be smitten and excited about me… I want him to want me, to choose me…even in 30 years. Don’t let the comfort of your relationship ruin your excitement for each other. Don’t set aside and let time pass by until you just begin to exist in each other’s lives. Break the routine and make the effort to plan a date. Get dressed up just as you would if you were 18 and trying to impress the boy of your dreams. Put the phone down, ask questions, flirt, and continue to fall in love repeatedly.
Lastly, on Sunday I asked “Do you or your s/o plan more dates?” 70% (all females) replied that they did. I followed that up by asking “Did your s/o put more effort into dating you in the beginning?” 76% of people said “YES” (again, all females) This brings me to say that I know we are all different but I feel that is in our nature as females to desire being pursued. Hell, I believe it’s in our nature as humans. We as humans love to be loved. So here are my thoughts. Men treat us how we allow them to treat us. If we accept that our s/o doesn’t take the time to plan dates, or maybe it’s the lack of effort around the house, whatever it may be, if we don’t speak up about it, it’s never going to change. So speaking from mine and matt’s relationship, once I was finally able to sit down and talk to him about how I was feeling, things changed, but it took me speaking up for him to understand me and for him to open up about how he had been feeling. When I would get discouraged from his lack of effort, he become discouraged because he didn’t know what he did wrong or in his case, what he wasn’t doing. *hence why communication is so key* So we bought a “date calendar” that we keep in our kitchen. I have a planner that I use religiously, and Matt keeps all of his meetings and events organized in his phone, but we decided that if we had a calendar that hung in a shared space so we would see it daily, that it would remind us who planned the last date, what we did, or how long it had been since we had been on one. We are taking turns trading off, I plan a date, then Matt plans a date. It may be once a month or it may be a few times a month depending what else we have going on. As parents, it’s hard to find time outside the house, so one date may be going out to dinner, but the next date may be ordering in, turning our phones and the tv off, and spending that time together without interruptions.
Matt and I chose each other from the beginning. We knew within two months of dating that this was different. I dreamed of finding this love and still didn’t think I’d ever be this happy… I don’t want to just make it. I don’t want to look back in 30 years and think about what we could have done different. I don’t want a marriage that ends in divorce because we stopped putting in effort. I want to excel… So I’m going to continue to choose him, and us, and this relationship. I’m going to verbally speak-up about what I need and expect from him and I’m going to listen and adjust when he does the same. I’m going to date him forever even if that means turning the tv off and eating take-out on our living-room floor.
I’m going to sign off by sharing a few last-minute thoughts.
Read the book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” It does such a good job of breaking down the differences between men and women in an unbiased manner and explains that we are so radically different from one another that we are in essence two different species. It gives background into each sexes mind and talks about how we have to work to relate to one another.
Both you and your partner take “The 5 Love Languages” quiz to see what you need from each other in your relationship. It gives you instant results on which of the 5 ways you love and how you receive love.
Continue to date! Dress-up, put the phone down, and date that person as if you were still working to impress them.
Urge each other to communicate. This is where Matt and I were both failing one another. Stop holding onto disappointment. Stop waiting for them to figure it out on their own, because they won’t. Just sit down and verbally communicate what you need.
Don’t stop putting effort and hold one another accountable to do the same.
Choose that person and your relationship every day.
This was hands down the hardest blog post for me to write. I felt I was being super cautious with my words and was searching for the right things to say to avoid stepping on toes while trying to get my point across. I’m hoping I did and that this was needed for someone out there. Wishing all of you a sweet sleep and even better dreams.
much love pretty people,