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Learning to Love What’s Real

Learning to Love What’s Real
Relationships are hard, but they are also beautiful, raw, real and unique. When relationships go well, there is no better feeling in the world, but when they get complicated, there is nothing that causes more anxiety or stress.
I have learned some very valuable relationship lessons throughout my 20s. While I have not mastered all of them, they are a part of my daily lifein a way that will solidify my happiness inrelationships for years to come.Here are the top 12 important lessons I have learned about relationships in my 20s:

I have been in situations where I have been scared to give someone else freedom, which, of course, is fueled by anxiety and fear. As soon as I put fear and anxiety ahead of love and understanding, I am no longer acting with the trustrequired of being in a healthy relationship.
I've acted according to what is best and easiest for me. And, of course, as soon as I do, the person I've done it to inevitably rebels. And, when herebels and pushes away from me, I cling harder with fear of losing that person. The more this happens, the harder hepushes.Resentment builds, and the thing I was most anxious about (losing that person entirely) inevitably happens.I didn't pay attention to the most important part of being in a relationship: acceptance and understanding.Freedom is necessary for growth, andimportant for discovering dreams, passions, happiness, etc.The more you are able to give someone freedom, the more he or shewill feel understood, cherished and loved.He or shewill want to spend time with you because your love comes with no strings attached.

2. BE YOUR BEST SELFI would obsess over whomy significant other'sideal person was. I would want to become that person, and I would change myself to please other people.I would try tofollow my love's dreams and passions, and forget that the whole reason that person was attracted to me in the first place was because of who I am.
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Whether you are in a relationship or not, your 20steach you to be your best high-value self. Having expectations for yourself is just as important as having expectations for others.


Self-love ties into your self-confidence; it allows you to excel and pushes your drive and growth. Having confidence leads to making choices based out of love and kindness, rather than fear, guilt and anxiety, which are the three emotions that will take you straight to a breakup.Whatever it may be that builds your self-love, my advice to you is to learn how to love yourself unconditionally in your 20s.This means accepting that you will never be perfect, andlooking in the mirror and being comfortable with what you see. This means coming to terms with your past demons, letting go of the baggage that suffocates you, freeing your soul and igniting your spirit.And, don't worry if you haven't mastered this because it is a lifelong lesson to be learned. I am still learning it every day, one step at a time.

4. LEARN TO TRUST WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHEDLearning to trust is hard enough without considering the strings. When I began to trust other people, especially after coming out of some very immature and dramatic relationships in my teenage years and early 20s, I'd often include rules that came with the trust.
I've created procedures for what it will take for me to trust someone. For example, "I will trust you if you are always checking in with me," or "I will trust you if you are always telling me I am the person for you."Luckily, my 20shave taught me that this kind of trust is not real trust; it only creates more fear.Believe me, if you look hard enough for a problem, you will always find one.

5. LEARN HOW TO BE VULNERABLEWhen I was younger, I did something I refer to now as “emotional flat-lining.” Emotional flat-lining is when you are so scared to be hurt that you close yourself off entirely. This sort of behavior is entirely protective, and for me, I felt I needed to secure myself so no one could hurt me again.The unfortunate result was that, while I never felt overly sad or upset, I also never felt overly happy or excited. I was missing the entire point of living: to feel emotion.Being vulnerable takes immense strength. It takes putting yourself out there, and doing what is in your heart and your soul.
It means admitting you love someone before hehas told you heloves you. It means showing when you are sad. It means learning to be okay with your anxieties and fears and learning to turn them into strengths that lead you to emotional freedom.

6. UNDERSTAND THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMENI am a feminist; I believe in true equality between the sexes and equal pay for equal jobs. Ibelieve men are just as good as women, and I believe there are men whoaren'thorrible, untrustworthy and out to get me.And, while I am both pro-woman and pro-man, I do not believe we arethe same. Our differences are due inlarge part to our biology and also tosocietal conditioning. Whatever the reason may be, once I learned to accept this difference, it made me more comfortable in a relationship.I can only really speak for myself, but I know I think differently than men. I overanalyze at times; when I am sad or lonely I want to cling to the person I love. I love sharing the way I feel, and while I know this is not always true of every woman, I know these actions are different fromthe actions of the men I know.From my understanding, men retract when they are thinking things through. They need space and time and don't always want advice. They take longer to process emotional subjects. They like to spend time with their guy friends (a lot of time), and don't always want to be the person to whom you gossip every little detail of life.
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