Relationships are really hard. Sometimes they are so hard that you wonder whether or not you are better off in or out.
But don't rush to move on. The truth is that sacrifice, struggle and compromise is all part of it.
It's the stuff you have to give up in order to get the good stuff.
It doesn't always make it easier, but sometime reminding yourself of some basic relationship truths can give you the perspective you need to keep moving forward.
1. Relationships Are Hard Work
In the beginning a relationship is about fun and excitement and there is nothing difficult about it. Sparks fly, the sex is great and you always enjoy each other's company.
But once that glow wears off and you start to try and build a life together things can get extremely challenging.
Her flaws are on show, your flaws are on show. Being around each other all the time can feel like a chore and you wonder where the romance went.
Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean you should quit. It's good to remind yourself that the grass isn't always greener. It will be just as hard with someone else if you wanted to bail on this relationship and start again with someone new.
It being hard doesn't mean the relationship is bad or that your partner is wrong. A relationship being hard is normal.
2. You Will Have To Do A Lot Of Self Improvement
If you go into a relationship expecting to just carry on as you are now but with a lady on your arm, then you are in for a rude awakening.
Being in a relationship is going to bring all of your weaknesses to the surface. An intimate relationship with someone means shining a torch into all those dark places that you want hidden.
Childhood baggage, past relationship baggage and all your fears and insecurities will emerge.
You will have to confront these issues and engage in some serious self improvement. It's challenging but it is good for you.
3. You Both Will Change
The person you fall in love with is not the person she is always going to be. Change is an inevitable part of life and is influenced heavily by career, becoming a parent and just getting older.
It's incredibly difficult to watch someone changing right in front of your eyes. Often you can feel aggrieved and frustrated, particularly if it's change you weren't anticipating or don't feel ready for.
But you are changing too. If you want to progress through the seasons of life with someone you have to accept this basic relationship truth. 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the line you are both going to be very different people.
You have to cultivate a climate of growth in your relationship where this natural process is nurtured and supported.
4. You Will Both Need Space
You can't spend all your time with your significant other. Each of you needs your own activities, your own friends and your own down time.
A lot of people freak out when they first start wanting space or when their girlfriend asks for space. It feels like something is wrong.
But it's natural, healthy and encouraged to have some time where you are not always in each other's pocket.
5. You Will Fight
Fighting isn't a sign that your relationship is in trouble. Fighting too is perfectly normal.
It is a way for the two of you to identify the friction points in your relationship and to resolve them.
If you never fight, that is something to be worried about.
As long as you fight with civility and aren't hurtful or demeaning then think of fighting as healthy disagreements.
6. Sometimes You Feel Like You Just Tolerate Each Other
A key relationship truth is that not everday is awesome. You won't always like being around her and you won't always feel attracted to her.
Some days you will feel like you are merely tolerating her and others you feel even feel anger and resentment towards her.
While you know logically that it's not always going to be sunshine and rainbows, it can be very hard emotionally when those rough patches arrive.
But rough patches are inevitable so you have to find a way to ride them out.
7. You Will See Each Other At Your Worst
At the beginning of a relationship you put your best self forward.
Once you are deep in a relationship you cannot help but show all of yourself.
Your worst parts will surprise even yourself. Because when you were single only you had to deal with your bad side. When someone else is forced to deal with it and confronts you it is a lot more uncomfortable.
If you are going to be together then seeing each other at your worst is going to happen. The question is, can you handle and love the worst aspects in your partner?
8. Sometimes You Can't Compromise
Compromise is a key part in any relationship, but it's not always to possible to reach a modified agreement that satisifies both partners.
Unfortunately sometimes you have to just give in.
You have to give in without keeping score or expecting the next big decision to go your way. It's just the way it goes sometimes.
9. You Won't Be Able To Change Her
She will change throughout the length of the relationship, as all people naturally do. But she will do it on her own accord.
A fundamental relationship truth that needs to be grasped is that neither partner can force change on the other. And therefore you shouldn't expect, demand or hope for it.
Understanding that you can't change someone means you just have to love them as they are. That's an extremely hard task but it is what love requires.
10. The Sex Won't Always Be Great
Just as the broader relationship can become difficult and need work, so too can your sex life.
In the beginning it was easy and sex was high on the agenda. But overtime things change and if you don't nurture it, your sex life can start to wither away.
To maintain a healthy sex life requires a lot of communication, self reflection and vulnerability.
You each need to figure out what you want and communicate that. You will need to make time for intimacy when it doesn't just happen and make it a priority even when life's other stressors always seem to get in the way.
11. You Will Feel Physical Attraction For Other Women
Men are genetically hardwired to seek novel sexual experiences.
You are a biological creature and you feel those strong urges for other women. 1
Feeling a physical attraction doesn't make your partnership weak or make you a bad person.
As long as you honor the committment you have made by refraining from acting upon those desires then there is no problem.
12. You Will Think About Ending It
Even the strongest relationships are inherently fragile in the sense that one of you could decide to walk away at any moment.
Yet the ability to walk away is actually a strength. It means that every day you choose to stay because you see value in the relationship.
Thinking about ending it at times is normal. It doesn't mean you have to follow through.
What it does is give you a chance to reflect on the relationship, raise concerns and also identify the things you are grateful for and don't want to lose.
13. You Will Find Committment Scary
Committing to someone is one of the hardest decisions you will have to make.
You will wonder if you are making the right decision, and if there is someone better suited to you out there somewhere.
At the same time not committing can be hard. You don't want to be endlessly starting new relationships as your youth disappears and you still haven't found a long term partner.
So while you are fearful, eventually you have to take the plunge. It's normal to be scared but you just have to make a decision and go for it.
14. You Will Never Know For Sure She Is The Right One
It's impossible to know whether your relationship is right or not because there is no objective standard on which to measure it.
All you can do is follow your gut, make a decision and see where it leads. The best you can do is be sure enough and all you can do after that is hope and pray.
It's risky and it's scary but that's life. It's no different to when you take a new job or move to a new city. The unknown causes us to be fearful and we don't know where it is going to lead.
But that is the ride called life. You can't abstain from it so you might as well get on and enjoy it.
Sometimes when you are going through a relationship problem it feels very lonely. Everyone elses Facebook feed makes it seem like their relationships are perfect.
But you are not alone. There are some common difficulties we all share and some difficult relationship truths we all have to wrap our head around.
Part of growing into a mature adult relationship is accepting these truths and understanding that everything in life and relationships is a tradeoff.
It can't be perfect all the time and you just have to accept that.
- Little, Anthony C., Lisa M. DeBruine, and Benedict C. Jones. "Sex Differences In Attraction To Familiar And Unfamiliar Opposite-Sex Faces: Men Prefer Novelty And Women Prefer Familiarity". Archives Of Sexual Behavior 43.5 (2013): 973-981.