My partner Alex and I have always had a unique relationship. We met while working at Sundown Mountain and started dating when I was 19 and he was 24. He wasn’t like past boyfriends. Our relationship was laid back and only as complicated as my Ego made it. Let me tell you, insecurities when you are young and trying to sort out life are real. But with Alex it was different; there was no yelling or fighting. If there was ever a disagreement, it was something we each thought about before we discussed what truly upset us. I grew up handling my emotions in the ‘heat of the moment’. It was refreshing to be with someone that had a communication style that was calm and loving. From him I learned that nothing ever gets accomplished when you are acutely angry, your brain isn’t in the space to logically think. Removing yourself from the situation (going to another room, taking a bath, reading a book) and taking your mind off the acute frustration can help develop effective communication between partners.
Love is about giving
I’m a giver, in all aspects of my life. I am most happy when I’m giving to other people. Alex is also a giver and very selfless. As we started dating, I watched the way he would go out of his way for his customers, students and family. Everyone Alex met, he showed up for 100%. He never asked for anything in return, he just willingly gave and still does to this day. The beauty of this is that I have been able to witness the beautiful gifts that are received back. They come in the oddest of ways, but I truly believe if you give and sincerely love others, you will get rewarded in the least expected ways.
We don’t tell each other “love you”
When we started dating we lived 1.5 hours away from each other. He was working on his graduate degree and I was graduating as a nurse. Being a younger female I wanted the security of love and reassurance of love. I wanted labels to know that I was his and he was mine! But, Alex didn’t give the labels, he didn’t feel the need to call each other girlfriend or boyfriend was necessary. He also didn’t use the word “love”. “Love”, the word used ad nauseam in relationships. It is really just another word like “pizza”, unless there is meaning given to it. Instead of telling each other we loved one another, we decided to show each other what love meant. Love was the night I called Alex telling him I needed a hug, and he drove 2 hours to hug me for 30 minutes before driving back home. Love is putting toothpaste on the other persons toothbrush, making them breakfast in the morning, and grabbing them a sweet treat just because they were thinking of the other person. Love is not expecting anything in return, just showing up for another human because you love them. Today we say, “love you” on rare occasions, but even after 12 years of partnership, we still do things like put toothpaste on the other person’s toothbrush to show our love.
When he told me he would be happy with anyone
One night we were tucking in from a long days adventure in Peru, and I asked Alex if he’d be happy with another person (why I asked this, I’m not quite sure). His answer was, “Yes, I’d be happy with anyone. I’m an independently happy person and don’t need others to make me feel happy” … Ugh, okay next time lie to me please, especially when we are on a mystical vacation. But in all honesty, as I wiped tears from my eyes and wrote his exact quote in my journal (of course so I would NEVER forget that he said that), it made sense and has continued to make more sense each time I playfully remind him. If we are looking to others for happiness, we will live a life of discontent because we are relying on external forces for our own happiness. If we can find inner peace, when the storms of the external life roll through, it doesn’t affect us as much, because we are grounded in our own contentment. Even though his words hurt in that moment, it was quite profound and I love him more, allowing me to realize that I (and everyone else on this planet), have the capability to be independently happy without relying on anyone else.
Evolving with your partner and being comfortable with yourself
I feel this is the most important aspect about love and longevity of relationships. The Alex and Stephanie that fell in love 12 years ago are 100% different than the Alex and Stephanie today. People evolve at different paces in their life. I think a lot of failed relationships come from the evolution of partners. One partner is evolving and the other doesn’t understand or is not willing to accept this, and the relationship becomes unhappy and unfulfilling for one or both parties. My experiences and understanding of this world grow tremendously year after year, and Alex is right there to support me through my journey. He might not understand everything but that’s okay, he doesn’t have to. What is important is that he respects me and allows me to evolve. This can only happen when each person in the relationship is comfortable with themselves and secure enough to not hold the other partner back from their full potential and growth on this life journey.
I never thought I would feel magical butterflies after 12 years of being together, but Alex does this for me. He is my person. And though we both can be independently happy alone, it’s always better when we are together. Happy Valentine’s Day!