Three Gifts For A 20-Something – Set Your Own Relationship Rules

What three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for themselves. No more woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Today’s three wishes are from a 40-something on the life lessons she learned from her relationships, spanning her twenties to forties. Relationships don’t always go right but they give us powerful insights into ourselves and our lives that go beyond the heart.

Talk about your expectations.  

A relationship is about understanding and being okay with each other’s issues. No one is issue free. Don’t silently expect your partner to magically fulfill some picture of the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend that you have in your head. I had a boyfriend call me out once for pressuring him to behave the way I thought a boyfriend should act. Of course I didn’t tell him what I wanted so it just came put in phone calls, and passive aggressive eruptions of anger after he did something or didn’t do something I through he should.

Finally, he said, “Apparently you have these rules and these ideas of what I’m supposed to be doing or not supposed to be doing. I don’t know what they are. You’re not telling me what they are. You’re only telling me when I’m not meeting them so you’re setting me up to fail. What do you want?” It was pivot point for how I thought about relationships after that.

Make sure your expectations are your own.

I always said that in a relationship I wanted some level of autonomy. I’ve always needed my my freedom but I was so consumed with the definition of what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and comparing everything to that. But I never  ever felt comfortable in those relationships.

I completely lost myself for a period of time. I was trying to make my partner happy and make myself feel like I was valuable to him, I would spend time thinking about how I could keep him and how I could be worthy to him. I was just trying to be worthy to everybody else. Trying to please my bosses and be successful at work too. With all this people pleasing, I wasn’t even the same person.

Don’t hand over your power.

I handed my power over because I thought I had to get married in my thirties. My experience is a carrot stick. There was this sense that if I did X, Y and Z then we would get married then we’d have kids and have that “next life-stage” we all think will make us happy. There was this little manipulation so that he got his way. I went along with it because I thought I was supposed to be married. I thought that when you are so in love, you just lose yourself. I lost my sass. Well I always had a little sass, but I got it back full force in my forties. I think in the early twenties you don’t give a shit whether you get married. In your forties, you’re like “screw it. I’m not married yet. I am still happy. So whatever.” You hand over your power because there’s this carrot stick tension that goes on in the middle.

The funny thing is that with the manipulation and losing yourself you end up not being the person your partner met to begin with and even though they thought that was what they wanted, they don’t.

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