Relationships can be complicated, this is for certain! But, they get even more complicated when we keep trying to go with the flow of societal norms rather than doing what feels good to both ourselves and our partner(s). Yes, this is easier said than done and it also requires us to acknowledge limiting beliefs that we may hold about ourselves and our relationships. Fortunately, more and more people push the boundaries and norms in order to create a relationship that is tailored to the couple in it rather than greater society. We hear of more couples opening their relationships to polyamory (not to be confused with polygamy) and actively choosing not to have children and so much more.
Personally the more I know, the more inspired I become to live my truth and extend that truth into my relationship. Living and loving outside the lines really forces us to unpack what we once knew to be true in an effort to unearth what actually holds true for ourselves. For our relationships. But maybe you’re someone who doesn’t know the ways in which your relationship might look different, you simply know something is missing. For those of you feeling that way, here’s a list that hopefully serves as a catalyst – 5 things to normalize in your romantic relationship.
I encourage you to take meat and leave the bones – meaning take what works and leave what doesn't agree with you. However, whatever you do, don’t write it off without giving it some thought.
1.Prioritizing Partnership Over Marriage
I am paraphrasing but I once read something that said: we must learn to love people for as long as we have them or for as long as it feels good for both of us. Though this may sound finite and morbid, I’ve also come to understand that we must stop forcing relationships. Marriage, like death, can be very final and the vows don’t allow much space for a change of mind. Modern marriage is led by affairs of the heart, in my opinion. Thus it doesn't speak to those who choose to be around people for as long as it feels good rather than sticking it out through thick and thin, which has come to be interpreted as sticking around through some bullshit in relationships.
I want us to realize that relationships can be recognized in so many formats and the importance of doing what works for you. Depending on circumstances, marriage may feel necessary but there are also many people who opt out of marriage and those relationships also deserve to be acknowledged and respected in their own right.
2.Keeping Friends on a Need to Know Basis
You’ve likely heard this since you were younger, but I’m going to say it again: do not tell your friends all the dirty details of your relationship. Dirty good or dirty bad! It’s far less about not trusting your friends, and more so to do with trusting your partner and maintaining both privacy and intimacy. Additionally, we’ve all had to learn the hard way how to recover from diarrhea of the mouth in our relationship. You run and tell your friend everything in a fit of drama, only to work things out with your partner – now your friends are side-eying him while you’ve got heart eyes.
If you do choose to talk to your friends about your relationships, try not to seek them out for validation regarding the way your relationship operates. For instance, if you’re in an open relationship it’s likely that many of your friends won’t be in agreement with that. However, if you’re aware that this is an enjoyable aspect of your relationship, don’t allow them to make you feel shameful for deciding to try something out of the heteronormative…norm (?).
3.Being Together While Living Separately
Though it’s generally important to take space and have a life outside of your partner – people still get ostracized and judged for making space in living arrangements. For many reasons, many couples have either stopped cohabitating altogether or in some relationships even sleep in separate rooms. Those reasons might have to do with differences in household cleanliness, sleeping habits/hours, or even attachment styles. Personally, the sharing of a bed makes separate rooms super appealing because I have a difficult time sleeping with someone else in my space. And, I’m certain sleep isn’t the type of thing you’re meant to be sacrificing in relationships.
Don’t be afraid to speak up about what it is you feel you need or try new things that could actually enhance your relationship. Admittedly, this living arrangement requires you to be intentional about initiating sex – particularly maintaining separate places of residence, but that’s a bonus if you ask me. Keeps things fresh!
4.Loving From an Authentic Place Instead of Ego
Not all relationships are meant to go the distance. Some relationships are here with a quick turnaround time and lifelong lessons. With that said, it’s important that we normalize letting go once the season has come to an end. I truly believe we all know when it’s time to let go of a relationship but we’re so ego-driven that we try to hold on. It’s ego, rather than love because love alone would allow us to realize that authentic love for both ourselves and our person means letting go and making space for something that is far more compatible than what is currently present.
5.Talking About Sex Outside of the Bedroom
Make it a habit to talk to your partner about sex! Not in the dirty talk way, but in a way that allows you to communicate what you like and don't like during sex, as well as what you did and didn’t like with past partners. What would you like to try in the future? What would you absolutely not like to try? What are some things that are necessary in order for you to feel turned on? Too many people go on to marry or commit to a relationship thinking that sexual compatibility isn’t important, when in reality it can cause quite the jolt in relationships when one partner comes out of the blue and shares they’ve been cheating because all of their needs haven’t been met – needs that had never been expressed, usually due to fear and shame.
Creating a safe space to discuss these things is a must and having deeper discussions around the type of sex you want to have needs to be normalized in relationships.
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