Jared and I met in April of 2013. I've previously documented our relationship journey here and here. We had a love story similar to "You've Got Mail," (my favorite chick-flick, by the way) and instantly knew we would become the best of buds. Through many hardships in our individual journeys, Jared and I have been able to pour our hearts out and keep each other grounded.
I can honestly say: he is my best friend. Jared is a soft-spoken, shy but sweet soul until he opens up to you as he gets to know you. Then, he is a strongly opinionated, pure-intentioned and super silly, loud force to be reckoned with! He sees the world through the eyes of a child, and I very much see the world as an old soul. We balance each other out and help each other acknowledge complexity of life.
No, our relationship is not perfect. Far from perfect, being frank. We've been through the ringer like most young couples. We've dealt with infidelity struggles, outside criticism and drama, as well as the normal bickering that all relationships know too well. About eight months into our relationship the first time around, we split! We both weren't ready for the weight of the commitment (as much as we might have thought we were) and had our own paths of personal discovery.
After four months apart, Jared and I met for coffee. Up until this point, we didn't consider our breakup to be a Ross & Rachel "break," and had no intention of getting back together as a couple. Surely, all of our romantic feelings for each other returned and we began dating again shortly after. After plenty tumultuous serious relationships, this was the first time I had ever gotten back with an ex. Now we've been together for a year and a half steadily, almost 2.5 years adding it all up.
Coming together after such a time of personal exploration and independence, our relationship had to evolve with our new value systems and gained personality traits. Initially, I was a very close-minded person when Jared and I met. I openly pushed away the opportunity to have a variety of experiences. He was naive, and lacked a lot of the experiences that most 20 year olds typically have. Both of us had new moments to live. Once we relished these, we came together so much stronger as a couple.
Respect was a big piece. Choosing to re-commit as these new identities we had become, yet somehow falling back to where we had emotionally been prior to our breakup took some work. We had to learn to respect where the other one was at vs. where they had been.
Honesty is another. Because of our conflicts as a couple the first time, we both agreed that in order for the relationship to survive, we needed to be brutally honest--almost to a fault. Discussing all of our insecurities, doubts and emotional struggles was necessary.
Compromise might be the biggest factor of all. Due to the differing nature in our outlooks and general temperament, Jared and I often have to meet in the middle and compromise on our vision of our future as a couple, as any mature relationship should.
Individuality has also been a large influence. Recognizing our differences and appreciating them allows us to grow as individuals while also providing love and support to each other. Allowing each other to change through each new independent experience is what we believe will ultimately cultivate and solidify this final bond.
Jared makes me laugh like no other and has the remarkable gift of being able to calm my entire body with just a single embrace (I'm a naturally anxious person). He is my cheerleader, my greatest source of inspiration, my rock and the best life partner someone could asked for.
What are your tips and tricks for a flourishing relationship?
[ Photos: Svetlana Photography ]