At the beginning of this year, I started out on an amazing adventure – beyond anything my heart could imagine or envision at the time. At the end of January, I began dating the amazing man that I now call my boyfriend. Ryan and I have known each other for 4 years now and, after only 5 months of dating, we’re only in the very beginning stages of our relationship. It’s absolutely beyond incredible how much can change in that short period of time and how much you learn and achieve together.
The first few months of dating were so full on and extraordinary. Like two birds just discovery their wings, we were exploring a completely unfamiliar area of life. Everything was fresh and exciting and to be completely honest, we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. Okay, well wait a minute, maybe I should give ourselves a little bit of credit. We had some sort of an idea – It’s like when you go to pick something up that end ups being much lighter that you anticipated. Although you thought that you had an idea about how much the object weighed, your hand still went shooting through the air, because you could only really guess how much the object was going to weigh in the first place. Well yeah, I guess that’s what beginning to date Ryan was like. We could only really make a rough presumption about what dating each other would be like. Learning to do life with someone and love them to your very fullest, is a task easier said than done. Its a worthy challenge that brings so much joy to my life.
So without further ado – I’m going to share with you a couple of different things that I’ve learnt from the first few months of dating:
- Relationships are Dangerous! Starting a new relationship felt something along the lines of falling off the edge of a cliff…face first. I remember the feeling very clearly from the first few months. Everything was uncertain, everything was brand new, exciting but also absolutely terrifying! Nobody really knows if this will actually work out, or if it is just some crazy experiment. You have to put yourself out there, be daring, be wise but also, when it comes to taking the first step in a relationship (and every other step afterwards), you have to be brave. You have to be extra courageous in order to make the decisions that are really important – and those are the ones that end up being the best. The way to endure the initial danger of dating, is to surround yourself and embed your relationship in community. When you enter into a relationship, the people around you (friends, family, and mentors) will be the ones to have significant influence. It’s important to place yourself into a community where you can be encouraged, supported, and kept accountable. This is a great comfort when you’re first starting off because, a lot of the time, new couples can be stuck in the naive bliss that may be referenced as “La La” (which at it’s simplest definition means that love can sometimes be blinding) – By planting yourself in a community, this can be a great help. God always intended us to do life within community – including dating in community.
- Communication. Communication. Communication. It’s definitely one of the keys to any relationship, whether it’s your parents, friend, boyfriend or whatever! People are not designed to read your mind, so it’s absolutely vital that you protect the connection with your partner and do everything you can to communicate correctly and honestly. It absolutely blows my mind when people talk about their partners and how they don’t understand their needs and desires. Firstly, have you involved honest communication into your relationship? I always try and prioritize honest communication with Ryan, and am constantly trying to think of better ways to communicate with him effectively. Miscommunication is said to be the greatest distance between two people. However, this can be expected in any relationship. It simply means that, in order to protect the partnership during miscommunication, you both need to do everything possible to redirect and preserve the connection.
- Boundaries. Whenever anybody gives me dating advice, boundaries are always one of the main topics. At the very beginning of our relationship, Ryan and I set very clear boundaries with each other. Setting boundaries with each other is important because it creates a culture where you can both feel safe with each other, and setting your boundaries at the very beginning of your relationship allows for them to be absolute before your growing feelings and emotions muddle them around. Set your boundaries at the very beginning of your relationship and stick to them! Once your standards start getting tested, things will get difficult and it’ll be harder to reinforce the original standard. With this said, allow room to grow. Every relationship is different and over time you end up learning what works for you and what doesn’t. Be honest with yourself! Protect each others hearts, and stick to those guidelines. This means vulnerability levels, physically and emotionally. Set the standard to which you wish to be touched, talked to and ultimately treated. If your partner respects or loves you enough, they will honour your boundaries; and hopefully they have similar guidelines in mind as well.
- Obstacles or Adventures? Your attitude determines your direction – I said this in my previous post (15 Things to Start Doing). It’s 100% true for nearly absolutely everything in life. It’s completely up to you how you view situations, and I can clearly say that I’m totally a ‘cup is half full’ kind of gal. I find it thrilling when life chucks you these massive obstacles right in front of you; how can we both overcome this together? Another challenge means another way that I can learn to love Ryan better and in a greater way than ever before. Every single challenge that’s been coming our way (and believe me, there’s been a ton of them this year – on ya 2014!), it’s another opportunity to involve God in our relationship at a greater level, and to implement His amazing character into the way we overcome it together.
(Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance – James 1:2)
- Having God as your foundation. Jesus is love, so having Him as involved as possible, in your relationship, is one of the most rewarding things that you could ever do. Jesus was my very first love, so from the very beginning I knew that I wanted Him to play the major part in my relationship with Ryan. Although it’s so very easy to get swept away with your partners undoubtedly amazing character and gorgeous looks, and forget about absolutely everything else that matters, Ryan and I both quickly discovered that actively involving God in our relationship has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding aspects of growing together. God is the God of all wisdom, love, grace, hope and patience and is my greatest inspiration in life, when it comes to learning how to love. If I only had one prayer, it’d be to love as greatly as my God does.
I can clearly say that being in a relationship with Ryan has been the most amazing, easiest, hardest, loveliest, mind blowing, and frustratingly incredible endeavors of my life so far and I can’t wait to continue to love and learn with him by my side.
True Love is the practice of two powerful people putting one another before themselves, empowering one another, working together to meet one another’s needs, and adjusting as needed in order to move together toward shared goals of the relationship. Love does not just happen. It is indeed intentional. – Danny Lee Silk