Being in a long term relationship has made me aware of my flaws.
And you know what? I love that. I’m grateful for that.
I entered my first long term relationship at 25. Four and a half years later, although my life has changed dramatically, I’m still in that same relationship, with a man I love very much and can’t imagine life without.
But nothing prepared me for a relationship. And even if I could go back and have someone pre-warn me about the ins and outs of relationships, I don’t think it would have made a difference. Because I don’t think it’s something you can prepare for. It’s something you just have to experience, and grow through on your own. Because every person is different, and therefore every relationship is different.
A relationship will teach you many things. It will teach you the art of compromise. That physical attraction can only go so far. And that love on its own is not a good enough reason to build a life together.
Perhaps most importantly, a relationship will make you aware of your flaws.
We all have them. You might call them weaknesses, imperfections, or bad points. It’s not that they’re inherently bad, but they’re mostly undesirable human traits.
Human is the key word there, because we are all human beings, having a human experience here. And none of us are perfect. That doesn’t exist.
So we recognise and accept (and sometimes work on) the flaws within ourselves, and we do the same for others. Especially the people we love.
But I’m not here to talk about my partner’s flaws. I’m writing this to talk about my own flaws. Because this is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from being in a long term relationship.
You see, spending so much time with one person—who isn’t biologically related to you—will do that. That person you love will be a mirror; reflecting back every part of you. Even the parts you never knew were there, and the ones you’ve ignored over the years. The parts you love and celebrate, and all the other parts, too.
I’ve learned that although I’m a strong writer, I’m not the best communicator. I struggle to put my thoughts and feelings into words, and voice them. And I always have. Especially when I’m feeling hurt.
I’ve learned that I am stubborn. I used to find it incredibly difficult to admit I was wrong, and to say the words “I’m sorry.” And I would never be the one to put down my sword first, and reach out my arm. Even if that meant going to bed still in the middle of a fight.
I’ve learned that I can be impatient. I get fed up of waiting a long time. And I can blow my fuse pretty quickly over something really small.
I’ve learned that I can be quick to criticise, and judge, and point out people’s imperfections. But you’d be mistaken if you thought I wasn’t judging myself, too.
I’ve learned that I have high expectations for other people; sometimes unrealistically high ones. Because I naturally hold everyone to the same standards I hold myself to, forgetting that everyone is on their own path here.
These are just a few of the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from being in a long term relationship.
My relationship shone the light on those parts of myself I kept hidden in darkness. Sometimes we know they’re there, other times we don’t. They’re the parts most of us don’t speak about. We don’t explore them, or even admit that they’re there.
Because we feel embarrassed. We feel shame. We feel guilt. And we’re not ready to admit that we’re not perfect, to a society that convinces us we should be.
If I didn’t bring awareness to my flaws, then they didn’t exist, and I wouldn’t have to confront or address them. But my long term relationship forced me to. And I’m so thankful for that.
Because awareness is the first step to changing anything. A drug habit. Binge eating. Or even an abusive relationship. It all begins with awareness.
So when a relationships begins to stir up and reflect images, feelings, and actions of your own that make you uncomfortable—don’t close your eyes. Don’t run from it.
Face it. Face yourself. All of yourself. Because this is an opportunity to learn, to change, and to grow.
None of us are perfect, nor will we ever be. But this is an invite from the universe to do better. To be better.
Because she sees the space in your heart, and the stretch in your soul. And she knows you can be.