Recently, my fiancée surprised me with flowers. It was a simple gesture, but it carried a lot of weight for me. As I cut my roses and placed them in a vase, I thought about all the times when I was single that I picked up flowers for myself.
It is so important to learn how to love yourself before you’re in a relationship, and I definitely had plenty of time to learn that.
A long time ago, I wrote a blog post about “waiting for the one.” This post garnered a fair amount of internet attention for me – I received a lot of emails about it, including an invitation to audition for a reality dating show (which I declined). When I was younger, I had a lot of optimism about my future relationship, and I encouraged other people to dream big when it came to the relationship that God had for them. Now actually being in a relationship, I feel that I have a slightly different perspective than I had before.
It’s not that you shouldn’t dream big – I will never stop believing that God will do big things in my life. But truth be told, some of my dreams got a little too big. Perhaps this is a side-effect of my bipolar disorder – one of the symptoms is a heightened sense of self-worth and having grand ideas. Or perhaps this was simply just girlish dreaming. Either way, God’s choice for me was a lot different than what I had envisioned for myself.
I am far from disappointed with my fiancée – in fact, he’s more than everything that I dreamed about. He’s caring, he’s kind, he’s thoughtful, he makes me a priority, he’s supportive, and he loves me even though I’ve opened up to him about everything in my life – including the embarrassing stuff.
With more years of experience and an actual relationship in my life, I feel I have a better idea of what’s valuable in a relationship. Here are four things that I have found are important in my relationship:
1. You need someone that you can be completely honest with.
As I mentioned before, I share everything with my fiancée. Sometimes that can be difficult, but I’ve found that sharing the difficult things and finding acceptance in my places of brokenness brings powerful healing to my life. If you can’t be completely honest with someone because they’re going to judge you for what you’ve been through, what’s the point of having the relationship?
2. You need someone who loves you at your worst.
My fiancée has seen what I am like when I’m experiencing a manic bipolar episode, which is about as bad as it gets for me. He still loves me and wants to be with me, and his perspective of who I am hasn’t been affected by seeing me at my worst. Get yourself a partner whose perspective of you doesn’t change after they see your worst side. True love means seeing someone for who God has created them to be – at all times.
3. You need someone who believes in the dreams God has put in your heart.
My fiancée not only believes that I can succeed at my career and in my side-gig of writing blog posts, but he also offers me support. I read posts out loud to him, and he gives me feedback. He talks through difficult topics with me so I can process some of the things that are hard to write about. He fully believes that I can succeed at whatever I put my mind to. Having that kind of support in my life has been a huge blessing.
4. You need someone with whom you are more than romantic partners – someone who is also your best friend.
No one can make me laugh more than my fiancée can. I love spending my days with him and there’s no one else with whom I would rather pass my time. Romance is wonderful, but the feeling of romance comes and goes. Friendship is a solid foundation that will carry you through the roller coaster of emotions that a marriage will bring into your life.
What traits have you found to be important in a relationship? Share your thoughts in the comments below!