Life

Tips for a somewhat healthy relationship

As a bit of a follow on to my previous blog, I wanted to write about some of the things I have learnt about relationships and how to keep the peace. I’m no expert or professional when it comes to relationships, and in ten years I’m almost certain I’ll look back and laugh at my own naivety, but for now, these are the things that seem to help my current relationship survive.

Pick your battles

When I was in my first relationship, the second my ex did anything ‘wrong’ I’d always assume the worst and be so quick to anger, no matter how small and insignificant it was. I think for a lot of people, that seems normal. We are conditioned to believe that a good relationship requires a partner who never steps a toe out of line, and always puts you first. In the real world, people are selfish, and nine times out of ten will think of themselves first, so its better you erase that perfect romantic comedy boyfriend from your mind. One thing I learnt very quickly is that people, especially men, don’t take well to criticism. You start to become a mother of sorts to them, which isn’t fun for anyone, and like any disgruntled child, he will start to act out. Boundaries are important, but if you’ve made them clear from the get-go, he will know when he’s done the wrong thing, there’s no need to persistently nag him. I like to stop myself before I speak sometimes and think, “Is this worth fighting over?” If the answer is no, or even just probably not, then I leave it. A perfect example of this is the age old argument about changing plans last minute. The other day my family organised a dinner and the plan was that I would pick my boyfriend up when I finished work, drive him to my apartment where I would get ready, and we would go to the restaurant. He called me just before I finished work to tell me he had booked himself a physio appointment in an hour, mid way through the time I had planned to be at home getting ready. The old me would have told him he was inconsiderate which of course would have sparked an argument. Instead I told him that was fine, I’d take him to the appointment, and we would then carry on with the plan after that. Seems so simple, but its so effective. It really didn’t cause a problem, so why make one?

 

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Space

There’s not one person on this planet who doesn’t need a bit of ‘me time’. Some people need more than others, and in my experience, men seem to need the most. Time to just be alone, thinking about things, or not thinking at all. Watching a movie, reading, going to the gym, whatever it is that relaxes you, refreshes you and gives you time to enjoy your own company. It’s widely known that women tend to need more one on one time than their partner, and this can actually be so detrimental to your relationship. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and I get it. Why wouldn’t you want to spend all your spare time with the person you care about most and who makes you feel good about yourself? Unfortunately, that’s neither how things work, nor what’s going to be best for you.

When you give your partner that time to spend alone, it makes the time you spend together so much better. You have more to talk about, you have a chance to miss each other’s company, and you’re more likely to crave intimacy, all the things that are so important for a healthy relationship. Now that I’ve learnt this, time apart actually makes me feel so much closer to my partner when I do see him, and I also have time to work on myself and do things that I love, like writing  blogs!

 

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Learning how your partner works

Very early on in our relationship my boyfriend and I did a ‘love language quiz’. This is something you can do with anyone that’s important in your life, to better understand how to show them you care. For example, the most important one for me was words of affirmation. When my partner tells me I look pretty or when he tells me he’s proud of me, I feel most loved and cared for. For him, it’s a close tie between affection and quality time. He hates when we are spending time together and I’m on my phone, or just not absorbing what he’s saying. For him, its important he has my full attention at all times as well as lots of cuddles and touching. It’s so easy to express the things that make you feel good to your partner and assume it makes them feel the same, but this is rarely the case. Now I know this about him, I try to be more affectionate and to listen and interact with him when we have time alone.

I think all it takes is just mindfulness. Making sure you think before you act and speak as much as possible and trying to put your partner first where you can. At the end of the day, you can only control your own behaviour, so just try and be the best partner and version of yourself you can be.

 

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Dating the Un-Dateable

I wanted my first proper blog to be about something personal, but not too intense. I’ve got so many ideas running through my head about what this blog should and shouldn’t be, but I think it best to start with something I know, something that’s me. This is a topic that for some reason has been playing on my mind a lot lately, and I feel it’s something that affects a lot of women and has really affected me, for both good and for bad.

When I was eighteen I met a boy. When I met this boy, I didn’t think about the way he would or could affect me and my future. What eighteen-year-old girl thinks like that? All I knew was that it made me feel good to have someone that thought I was pretty, someone who wanted to spend their time with me, and someone who I would come to know intimately.

There was my first mistake. At such a crucial turning point in my life, anyone who entered it at that time would have had an undeniable effect on how I acted and saw myself. At eighteen the world is your oyster, yet you cannot even begin to imagine the things that world will throw at you. Feeling like you belong somewhere is what you crave, and you always will, you just learn to think more rationally about it with age. I should have used those years to be alone and learn about myself, but in my puppy love fog, I didn’t see that this feeling wasn’t something I could always rely on. This is when I discovered one of my biggest faults, or weaknesses, depending on how you look at it. My personality type craves partner approval, and his approval was all I wanted.

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When the admiring text messages slowed, when his desire to spend time with me decreased, when he began to ditch me for his mates and seek approval from other women to feed his own ego, I fell apart. That was how he trapped me. He probably doesn’t know he did, he probably didn’t think about what he was doing to me, because you see, a narcissistic teenage boy from a broken home with a strong desire to fit in will only think of himself. He will feel that same desire to be accepted that you do, but he will act that out differently. Your approval isn’t enough, he needs the whole world at his feet to feel happy, and you in your weak, helpless need for his attention, will be a perfect boost to his ego, but only when he needs it. So, you’ll sit at home waiting for him to call, you’ll call him again and again as your desperation increases, you’ll send message after message asking why he isn’t replying, why he doesn’t have time for you anymore, and all the while his ego is growing knowing that someone out there needs his approval to survive. Once he has learnt that, you will never feel safe with him. He will fill you up with love and attention when he is feeling low, but the second he’s high again, he will pull away leaving you wondering what’s wrong with you.

It’s a story I hear time and time again, and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever bounce back from. After four years of this emotional abuse, being so young and impressionable, my faith in men was shaken. It took me a lot of time, rejection and self-reflection to reach the point I’m at now.

Through all this, I learnt something about myself. I don’t know if it’s the way I was brought up, if it was the emotional journey I experienced as a child, it could even just be the way I was born, but I will always want someone like that boy when I was eighteen. There’s an obvious pattern in the men I choose for myself. They are all differing levels of narcissistic personalities who are ultimately self-centred people. I feel I’ve improved my choices each time, but I don’t think I will ever pick someone who doesn’t display some form of these characteristics.

But how can you live with someone like that? Knowledge is power, and I have educated myself on these types of people. I have made sure I understand how their minds work, so that when something happens that would typically be deemed unacceptable in most relationships, I am left unharmed and able to move forward.

These men are all insecure, probably more so than yourself. Therein lies the key to living harmoniously alongside them. Their need to be accepted by all and to be successful overrides everything. They need you probably more than you need them, and if you know that when they put you down, it’s because they are feeling bad about themselves, you can use this to your advantage.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “This girl must have no self-respect”, congratulations! You are the female version of the male type I’m speaking of. You probably find relationships easy, you’re the one who calls the shots and the one to break things off. You’ll pick a guy who does everything for you and adores every inch of you. You won’t get this blog, because it wasn’t written for you. I know there’s a group of you who will read this and think, “Thank god I’m not the only one” and to you I say, good luck! It’s never easy to realise you love someone who will never love you back in the same way, but it’s also very rewarding once you piece their individual puzzle together.

I have been with my current boyfriend for eight months now. It took him nine months to ask me out, nine months of my patience and learning to understand how he works. Not just any woman can date a man like this, you do need to be very strong, which is something I work on every day. Not all these men are good. Some people are straight narcissists who are incapable of feeling any kind of empathy or love. But some, my boyfriend included, are people who have been where we are, they know what it’s like to not feel accepted and have promised themselves they will never feel like that again. So, they build up walls and they pull others down to make themselves feel superior. They are not bad people, they are just misunderstood, and as long as you can understand that, you will be OK.

My ex was a narcissist, the type I deem incapable of love, but if you feel you are drawn to that personality, as I am, just know there are some people out there who have these traits but can also learn to love.

In all this, it is most important that you learn to love yourself and know that the acceptance of your partner is irrelevant to who you are as a person. Know that you can go on alone, and once you are able to that, the world will once again be yours.

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Pilot

First things first. I don’t claim to be anything special. To be honest, I’m never the girl that stands out in the crowd, or commands the room. I never have been that girl, but I’m inclined to say I’d like to be. I feel I’ve lived a lifetime of being second best, overlooked, or not quite good enough, and I feel like I might not be the only one.

In this world of Instagram models, influencers and over-achievers, I think its so easy to feel like you’re missing something, or that you will never be good enough. This injustice, and my longing to be someone of note, has led me to starting this blog.

I have no money, I’m about to go back to Uni for the next three years, and I have no set goals for what I want to do with my life, but I think that for some, this lack of any kind of direction or end point, might be refreshing, and I hope that somehow, the things I’ve learnt and will learn, might help or inspire others to carry on, despite feeling like you’re just background noise.

Having been a Skin Clinician for the past three years, I hope to bring some kind of wisdom when it comes to health and beauty. I am a mediocre fitness enthusiast who seems to go through phases with exercise and healthy eating, and I also refer to myself as ‘plant based’, as vegan seems to have to many negative connotations attached, and I sometimes like to eat a bit of cheese and some eggs (criminal, I know). I’ve also been through some interesting struggles which I would like to share in due time, as both a way to vent and a way to help other women know they really aren’t alone in this cruel world.

So, here begins my journey to find where I fit and where I excel, to become someone who is seen, and to maybe help a few people smile along the way.

 

Rach xx

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