My last relationship made me a better person, but it also showed me that I deserve better. I spent just over a year in a relationship that completely changed who I was. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons and I’d like to pass them a long to you!

1. Be Gracious

My last relationship made me realize that you can never be too appreciative of your significant other. You can never say “thank you” too many times, and you can never overuse the phrase “I love you.” I spent a lot of time in my last relationship thinking of how much more he could be doing for me, and not enough time being grateful for the little things. Granted, those little things were few and far between, but I still didn’t appreciate them like I should have. I see myself saying thank you to my current boyfriend more and more now. I find myself just wanting to enjoy his company, rather than wanting him to do more.

2. Trust Your Family’s Opinions

This one is a hard one, but it can save you a lot of trouble.  Ask your family their honest opinion on the person you’re dating. I didn’t find out until well after my last relationship was over how much my parents really didn’t like him. I wish I would have known that sooner, because their first impression of him was pretty spot on. My parents aren’t ones to get involved in my relationship, but having their opinion really helped. After spending an evening with my current boyfriend my dad told me “now I’m not telling you he’s the one, but I’m telling you he’s the kind of guy you deserve to be dating.” Now that’s the kind of first impression every girl hopes for.

3. Make Sure You’re Ready

Not to get too risqué, but another lesson I learned was not to rush into anything. With my last relationship, things moved really quickly – which was a huge mistake. I was never that kind of girl, but now that was the impression I was giving. The relationship wasn’t based solely on a romantic connection, and instead was focused on a physical connection.  This added a lot of unnecessary pressure on me to act a certain way all the time. I’ve always used the saying “you can wear the pants, but I control the zipper” when talking about relationships, but really it should be a mutual decision that you’re both 100% comfortable with before moving forward. If it’s something you’re not comfortable even discussing with your boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe you have some things to reconsider.

4. Build Each Other Up

My favorite comedian, John Mulaney, in one of his comedy specials says “I had no idea relationships were supposed to make you feel better about yourself,” and honestly neither did I. In my last relationship, I always felt like I should be doing more. I should be exercising more, studying more, working more, being more. I never felt like I was going to be enough. It wasn’t until after the dust had settled that I finally felt good about myself again. A relationship should never make you feel inadequate in any way. A healthy relationship is all about motivating the other person to be a better version of themselves, while not belittling where they are in that moment. You deserve to be with someone who supports your goals and encourages you to go after them, but still tells you how great you’re doing where you’re at right now.

5. Your Morals Matter

You should never have to compromise your morals to be with someone. Ever. If you’re not into drinking- don’t date someone who goes out drinking every weekend. If you’re not okay with someone doing drugs- don’t date someone who does drugs. Never let someone convince you that your morals aren’t important, and you certainly shouldn’t compromise them just to make them like you more. It’s not worth it, believe me. You should never have to change who you are or what you believe just to make someone love you. That’s not love. You deserve someone who not only respects, but also shares your morals. Now obviously you might not agree on every single little thing, but generally speaking you should have the same moral compass as your significant other.

6. Think About the Future

Talk about what you want in the future. Don’t be afraid to, because if you can’t see a future with someone- WHY are you dating them? One thing that sticks out to me is that in my last relationship, we did not want the same things out of life. It’s not a bad thing to have different goals, but I think that in a relationship you should be working towards the same things if you want things to work out. Clearly we’re still young, and don’t have any idea what the future will hold, but if you see yourselves at completely different places 10 years from now, it might be time to find someone with the same goals.

7. Sisters Before Misters

Last and certainly not least- keep your friends close. Don’t let the person you’re dating distract you from the people who really matter. Spend time with them, keep in touch with them, don’t let your relationship take control of your social life. If things end up going south in the relationship, you’re going to need those people for support. Talk to your friends about what they think of your boyfriend. In my last relationship, I didn’t get along with his friends, and my friends didn’t get along with him- and that’s a MAJOR red flag. You become the people you surround yourself with.  If you don’t like his friends, be careful, because you might start seeing their traits in him.

I still find myself learning new lessons from my past relationship every day. The most important thing to take away from this is to trust your gut. If you don’t like something about the relationship, trust that feeling. You know yourself better than anyone else.

Sheridan M