Romantic relationships are often a huge part of our lives, so if you’re someone committed to your own personal development, then you want to make sure your relationship is actually helping you become a better person. Keep reading to learn the five ways to tell if your relationship is furthering your growth.
In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I wanted to share about a topic I haven’t talked much about yet on this blog…love and relationships. Maybe it’s because love is in the air, or maybe it’s because I’m getting married in a 4 weeks (!!!!) but I realized I haven’t shared much yet in the way of romantic relationships.
That’s probably because I think the first thing you need to thrive in a romantic relationship is a solid + committed relationship with yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to be perfect or to have transcended all of your issues to be in a relationship with someone else (none of us have), but I think a romantic relationship grows and flourishes when we’re just as committed to loving ourselves and nurturing our own growth as we are to our romantic partner.
But of course, love and relationships are a huge part of our lives. And as I enter into the next phase of my own romantic relationship, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on what is important to me in a partner and what I qualities help me the most in my own growth.
So, if you’re someone who is interested in their own personal growth (which I know you are if you’ve made your way to this post), then who you choose as a romantic partner (either for the time being or for life) is extremely pivotal. Below I’ll share some of the most important qualities of a partnership that will allow both you and the relationship to grow and thrive.
You and your partner are self-aware.
This is number 1 on the list because without self-awareness, it’s unlikely that you or your partner are doing much growing. I’m going to go more in depth on how to cultivate self-awareness in a coming post because I think we should all strive to be more self-aware (it’s a process, of course)!
Self-awareness is really the bedrock of all personal growth, so it’s so important to find a partner that knows himself or herself well, too. Self-awareness is of course something that can be cultivated over time, but if your growth is important to you, make sure your partner at least has a basic knowledge or his or her own mind, and a desire to keep learning about it.
Your partner supports you having a life, passions, and interests separate from them and is not threatened by any of those things.
This is so key! If your partner is threatened when you see your own friends, when you want to vacation without them, or when you want to nurture your own passions and interests, then that person is not truly committed to your growth and therefore is not worth keeping around. A partner who wants to see you thrive will actually encourage you to nurture your individuality and will find joy in watching you do your own things at times. Of course there has to be a balance between nurturing yourself and nurturing the relationship, but your partner should be committed to finding that balance with you and should communicate with you when they feel like that balance is off.
Your partner lovingly points out areas of growth for you and encourages you to become a better version of yourself.
NOTE: This is very different from your partner trying to change you or your basic traits, because that will never work. Both of you have to be open to learning more about your own flaws (which of course can at times make us feel defensive and vulnerable) and be okay with communicating to each other about ways you both can improve. The most important thing here is to actually listen to your partner then they point out an area of growth and try to actively improve in that area. It’s important that you both understand that major change won’t happen overnight but that you make a real effort to improve and you acknowledge those efforts in each other.
You’ve learned how to handle conflict.
This is a huge one as well, and something that Steve and I are always working on. Firstly, we know each other’s styles of handling conflict – for example, Steve hates fighting in public which I don’t mind, but because I know he hates it, we don’t do it because I know it won’t get us anywhere. We’ve learned that we both need to stop ourselves from blowing up and take some space, but after a couple of hours we’re usually ready to talk and discuss why we experienced conflict in the first place and how we can do better next time.
This is, of course, a messy process and we are continually learning and working on this seven years into our relationship (and I’m sure we always will be) but it’s so important to learn how to fight well and manage conflict with the least amount of hurt and drama possible for the long-term growth of the relationship.
You grow together.
I know that my relationship with Steve will last because we know ourselves and each other well, we support each other in our own growth, but we also have grown in the same direction over the years. This is something that’s not always possible to control, so we got lucky that we have grown with each other rather than away from each other. But before committing for life (even though this isn’t something you can always predict) it’s important to evaluate whether you have grown stronger over the years, through setbacks and life changes, or weaker.
If you’ve grown stronger together, you’ll likely continue to grow stronger and in the same direction. This is something I’ve seen time and time again in my relationship with Steve and helped me know for sure that he was the right life partner for me. I know we’ll have many more storms to weather, but I’m confident that we’re committed to helping each other through them and our relationship is strong enough to survive and thrive through whatever challenges life will throw our way.
Finding the right partner is so important to anyone committed to their own growth, happiness, and wellbeing, and I hope this post helped remind you that truly strong relationships are not about fairy tales; they’re about committing to help each other and your relationship grow and evolve over the years. I feel so lucky to be part of an amazing partnership that is beyond even my wildest dreams, and it’s been hard work, of course, but like anything that requires effort…more than worth it.