- Communication is the cornerstone to a successful relationship. This may sound glaringly obvious, but surprisingly, it's harder for some of us than others. I've realized I can be quite an emotional person, and when the possibility of getting hurt/letting myself be vulnerable/being rejected exists, I clam up. I'm talking about the ridiculous "I'm fine" and "Nothing is wrong" crap that some of us pull. Not only is it a sign of immaturity, but it sets relationships up for failure. True love conquers all (yes, I'm THAT much of a romantic - I really believe it!!) and if someone loves you, let yourself feel safe enough to open up. Show your fears, show your scars. When someone loves you enough, they'll listen to what you have to say - without judgement, without running for the exits. They'll love you FOR those things, not despite them.
- Give all you have, without thinking of receiving. One of my favorite quotes comes from the 14th century poet Hafiz: "Even after all this time, the sun never says to the Earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love life that, it lights the whole sky." I love this quote for so many reasons. I love how beautiful the thought is that when we give with all we have - expecting nothing in return, amazing things can happen. Love with your whole heart. The right person should bring that out in you. When you're in love, don't half ass it. Use your whole ass!
- Hold yourself accountable. I'm not perfect. I can be a pain in the ass. I can give the person I love the silent treatment when I'm upset or hurt. It has taken me nearly 30 years to not simply realize I'm not perfect, but to actually hold myself accountable. Giving your partner the silent treatment/saying "I'm fine" when I'm really not is not ok. It's not acceptable to act out of character simply out of fear of rejection or fear of conflict. In reflecting on the demise of some special relationships, and the role I played (takes two to tango, people!), I've realized I must hold myself accountable. How can we possibly expect our partners to be exceptional communicators and treat us with nothing but love and respect if we don't hold ourselves to the same standards? Well that's simply not acceptable for me any longer. I am now accountable for every action, every word.
- Listen to your gut. We know. It's as simple as that. Your voice is there for a reason. Always listen to it.
- Never leave words left unsaid. One of the hardest things I've ever done was let myself become completely vulnerable after a significant breakup. I called my ex - after a few too many sleepless nights - and did something I've never done before. The old me would have let pride and fear get in the way, but something that morning told me to listen to my heart. I let myself be vulnerable. It nearly felt as though my heart would explode if I didn't say what I needed to. I emptied my heart, expressing every emotion and feeling, without worrying about how it would be received or what his reaction would be. Sure, I was vulnerable. Sure, it hurt beyond words when he said that he loved me, but the timing wasn't right. But you know what? I regret not a single word. I stayed true to me - and was my most authentic and genuine self. Since then I've seen the quote "Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost." I am so grateful I followed my heart and was honest with my feelings. I told the person I loved just what they meant to me. And that is quite simply a feeling of contentment I've never experienced before.