You can grow within relationships. You can grow outside of relationships.
For me, a lot of growth occurred outside of relationships. Post breakup, there was always a struggle of, “Am I speaking with my mind or heart?” Your heart wants one thing, but your mind wants another. Finding that balance is never easy.
At the core, I’m a very empathetic person. I’m always imagining myself in other’s shoes.
As they say, your strengths are also your weaknesses, but on the other side of the spectrum.
You’re empathetic towards others, but forget to be empathetic with your own feelings.
Being in a relationship, it takes two to tango, it’s a two way street, however you’d like to interpret it, but it’s true.
Now that I’m able to objectively look at previous relationships, you start to notice patterns. There are definitely parallels.
I have to be fully accountable for what I said (or in my case, lack of what I said) to my significant other. I truly believe things happen for a reason, even though it may not be obvious at the moment.
But as an adult, I also want to grow and improve for the next relationship, you know? I don’t want to continue patterns that aren’t beneficial for both parties.
For example, the importance of love languages. According to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages that individuals give and receive love:
Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Acts of Service
(I highly suggest taking the quiz to learn how love languages may play a part in your life)
After realizing my primary love language (quality time) and secondary love language (words of affirmation), things just made sense.
Instances that happened in my relationships, times where I was upset, reflected those love languages.
Your love language will sometimes evolve from a lack of this “love” previously. For example, growing up I didn’t really receive words of affirmation from my parents, so I ended up seeking it within my relationship.
In my last relationship, which lasted 4 years, I could count on my hands how many times I said I love you. Although I did love this person, saying those words did not have the same meaning to me than for him.
I recognize there’s a balance. You may need to receive love in a certain way, but you also need to express your S.O’s language as well. It may not be natural, but it’s all a work in progress.