10 years of dating and these are the lessons I learned

That number might or might not be true…lol... Now that I have your attention, let’s dig into this piece

You are not ready for a relationship” my aunt once told me casually when I was 14 years old. Reflecting now, she was right. With every new age, you learn something new about love and how a relationship works.

Over the years, I’ve had some interesting relationships. Each experience, each feeling, and each end has taught me lessons that helped me grow. I won’t say I have regrets about the love I had because I don’t. While I have had some time to reflect on the lessons I learned while dealing with certain relationships, I’ve put together a list of things I wish I knew earlier before dating and things I know better now.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a credentialed relationship expert. However, some of these lessons are quite valuable. Let’s dig into it.

1. Rid yourself of whatever fantasies and expectations you harbour about the bliss of a relationship. It is never exactly how Disney, Nollywood, or romantic novels painted it. Understand you are two separate individuals with different backgrounds coming together. Hence, it is a lot of learning before the magic takes place.

2. Love with your heart but listen and act with your brain. It’s funny how people say they never saw the red flags when it was there from the onset. When a man or woman says “I am not ready for love”, don’t ever think you can change that. People often tell on themselves during the talking stage. Pay attention and learn to move if those signs aren’t something you can cope with.

3. Lauren London said Nipsey once told her ‘You can’t possess people, you can only experience them’. He was right. You don’t own your partner, you experience them. People come and go. Know this and know peace. When you realize you are simply experiencing them, you give less room for jealousy and insecurities. Therefore, learn to enjoy each moment with your partner. If it lasts a lifetime, good for you. If it doesn’t, pick up the lessons and blessings.

4. There is no such thing as one person for you. Trust me, you haven’t met half of the people that would love you. So, while you think that guy or girl that is hurting you whom you love with your entire heart is the only person you would ever love, that’s not realistic. There are over a billion people in this world, and you’d meet someone else who will appreciate every bit of you.

5. Learn to love people in their love language. If her language is quality time and you are spending so much time giving her words of affirmation, you’ll be frustrated fam. Learn your partner’s love language and treat them accordingly in that line.

6. Stop believing everything your zodiac signs says. I once decided on a past relationship because our zodiac sign wasn’t compatible. I was wrong. You learn to make compromises. You learn to accept people for who they are and not what they can be. Again, if you can’t handle his or her personality, don’t waste precious time and allow them to be in peace.

7. This thing called ‘see finish’ will always happen. Your ability to reinvent your relationship after that is what makes it stand the test of time.

8. Relationship is in phases. The talking stage, the honeymoon stage, the comfortable stage, the storm, the forever stage. In the talking stage, ask questions. My dear, stay curious and observe. In the honeymoon stage, savor it and live in the moment. The comfortable stage would leave you feeling you are missing out on something, you are not. The butterflies are just tired I guess, rather think of ways to keep the spark alive. The storm would test your patience and love. Remember love is all about forgiveness. If you can wither the storm, then you can wither any lemon life throws at you.

9. Have a life outside your partner. There will be that urge to center everything around him/her. Sometimes you find yourself cutting off your friends. Don’t do that. Learn to be ok by yourself without him/her in the picture because one day they might leave, and you will be left with nothing.

10. Don’t use another person’s relationship as your template. Again, we are different and less I remind you, not all that glitters is gold. Some people are just good at hiding their struggles.

11. If he/she ever raises a hand on you, LEAVE! You’d be tempted to make excuses for them. Trust me, it didn’t happen by accident. That’s a ticking bomb waiting to explode.

12. Date your type. Be with the person whose values align with yours. If you are not attracted to your partner but you only like them for their good nature, fam, you’d cheat, and it’s unfair to your partner. Look for your type, wait for your type, date your type and stop breaking people’s hearts. You don’t want to spend a lifetime explaining your soul to someone who can’t comprehend you.

13. A broken relationship doesn’t have to present a villain. Humans are fickle. Feelings change. When it does and you can’t salvage the situation, communicate this to your partner instead of doing something stupid that would hurt them. Relationships always run its course; it was fun while it lasted.

14. If you can’t picture your partner as your wife or husband, don’t bother calling it a relationship because you guys are just having fun. This brings me to this part of saying, always define your relationship; are we friends? Friends with benefit? Boyfriend or girlfriend? Or prayer partners? Define it from the start. It saves you from setting expectations that would end in disappointment.

15. Don’t rush a relationship. Take your time to know this person. Honestly, be friends first.

16. Sex? If you’re reading this, I don’t think you should be having sex. Say no to fornication you nasty human…lol…jokes aside, intimacy isn’t all about sex. If you can’t sit with your partner in silence and still have a good time, something is the wrong fam. Do more non-sexual activities.

17. You can be a toxic person too. Stop with the attitude of ‘this is who I am’. Drop it! Doesn’t look good on you. Work on yourself. If you have hurt someone, learn to apologize. I have hurt someone in the past and I know he is reading this. I am sorry. I wish I knew better, and I wish I made the right decisions with you.

18. Communication is important but comprehension is key.

19. If you find yourself changing every bit of yourself to fit into your partner’s imagination of what you should be, something is wrong.

20. Every small thing shouldn’t lead to a breakup. Humans are complex beings. You might be angry that he didn’t react in a certain way whereas his actions are due to an emotional breakdown he’s having at that moment. Learn to understand people before coming to a conclusion.

21. If you are not over your ex, please, and please, don’t start another relationship with someone else because you will bleed on an innocent soul.

Not me realizing I would go on and on about lessons I have learned, so I am going to stop here and save my nuggets for another post. I hope you enjoyed reading this.

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Victor Mwenda

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