These are the 8 things I've learned about myself from 8 years of dating my long-term boyfriend, Matt. Including my love language and how much I value our individuality.
Matt and I just celebrated our 8th anniversary so I thought today I would share some of the things I've learned about myself throughout our time together.
I see a lot of posts like this that talk about what people have learned from a relationship – like providing relationship advice and focusing more on them as a couple – so I'm switching things up and talking about how I have grown as an individual. Of course, we have grown together over these last 8 years, but I think it's really important to remember that if you're not working on your own individual happiness, it's hard to be happy with someone else.
So that's why I'm going to share the 8 things I've learned about myself throughout our relationship. I hope you find it helpful and interesting!
But first, a little history…
I won't dive too much into “our story”, but Matt and I met in college when I was a senior and he was a junior. It's crazy to think that when we first met (the summer of 2009), I had just gotten back from studying abroad in Spain, I was in another long-term relationship, I was entering my final year of college and I had a pretty solid friend group already.
While I had been gone, his group of guy friends had become really good friends with my group of girlfriends, so when the girls and I moved into our house for senior year, the boys were over a lot. We slowly got to know each other, and while we were definitely close friends, there was always something a little more there. Small flirtations and definitely an attraction, both physically, but also intellectually and interest-wise.
Fast forward to my spring semester of senior year, I had broken up with my high school boyfriend, and Matt and I were pretty much dating. We made it “official” the day after I graduated and three weeks later we were off on our first adventure together. A 5-week trip to Costa Rica where we did a little volunteering and lots of exploring. It's definitely what sparked our deep connection and I still look back at that trip as one of the best trips of my life.
What I've Learned About Myself Through Our Relationship
We've had a lot of time to work out some of the kinks, and some we're still working out, but I think over the past 8 years I've definitely learned more about myself through our relationship. Not just by working on things and spending quality time together, but also by taking time away and diving deep into who I am.
1. I'm a Thinker
I used to think of myself as kind of confrontational and outspoken, but over the past 8 years, I've actually realized that I'm more the opposite. It's not that I shy away from the hard stuff or don't speak my mind, I'm just the type of person that analyzes everything. I think about how I want to say something, when I want to say something, the tone I want to use, how the other person is going to react, etc., before the topic is ever brought up. I think this is both good and bad. It's good in the fact that I'm a bit more strategic with the harder conversations, but it's bad because I hold onto things longer.
And this rings true in my life outside of our relationship too. I'm always thinking through things, thinking about the outcomes, and maybe being a little too cautious rather than jumping head first into something new. I'm sure this goes along with a few of my later points and is part of my personality, but it's been an interesting thing to navigate in a relationship.
2. My Love Language is Quality Time
Have you heard of the Love Languages Books? If not, I think it's something everyone should check out. The concept is essentially about how each person shows and receives love differently and how that can lead to conflict in a relationship. If two people don't show and receive love the same way, they might not be “feeling” like their partner is giving them what they need.
But when you understand what each of your love languages is, then you can better understand how the actions your partner is doing is their way of showing you love. And vice versa. You are able to better understand how your partner wants to receive love so you can work on that language. There's a free online quiz if you want to check it out! But I definitely also recommend picking up the book 🙂
So for me? My love language is quality time. As in, how I like to show and receive love is by spending quality, uninterrupted time together. This has been really helpful for me as I know that when I feel disconnected from him or feel like we're not really vibing, it's probably because we haven't been getting in that quality time (or QT as we call it).
3. I Love Being With an Extrovert
This is something I've always kind of known about myself because I'm definitely more of an introvert. I like being home, staying cozy and definitely need my alone time. But just like other introverts, I also need to get out and be extroverted sometimes. Which is why having a partner who is extroverted is so valuable to me and my personality.
Matt is an extrovert through and through. He can talk to anyone. He lights up the room. And he thrives on being social. Which is the perfect balance to my personality. I like to say that he's the one that brings us out and I'm the one who helps keep us grounded at home.
While it definitely has its challenging moments, I think this balance is something that really helps us. We both know and understand when we need opposite things (like I want to stay in and he wants to go out). And I think ultimately, it causes a lot less conflict in the long run.
4. I Value My Independence
In the fall of 2016, Matt and I decided we needed to take a little break. It was something we had chatted before, but we just got to this point in our relationship that I don't think either of us really knew who we were without the other person. I'd known him since I was 21 and at 28, I was a totally different person. He had been there for me the whole time and I never really knew what it was like to just be me.
So we separated for about 6 months (with our goal always being to get back together – we just needed space), and it was one of the best things we could have done. Both for our relationship but also for each other individually.
I became so much more appreciative of my own independence and I felt so much more confident knowing I could make it on my own. When we came back together six months later, I think both of us were so much more solid individually, which helped us be better together.
5. I'm Not Big on Solo Travel
In November of 2016, I went on my first ever solo trip while we were on our break. Funny enough, he actually went on a trip as well to Portugal and Amsterdam for about a week. I traveled halfway across the world to Thailand.
I wrote about my experience, but the more and more I look back on it, the more I realize that I really don't think solo travel is for me. There are a few reasons why:
- I get nervous. I'm not a nervous flyer or anything like that, but when I'm in a new place, where I don't know the language or the culture, I get a little cautious. And I feel like I don't really allow myself to experience it as much since I'm always kind of “watching my back”. When I'm with someone else, I don't have to worry as much.
- I like sharing experiences with someone else. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and Matt is an excellent travel partner. While I was away, I did a ton of soul searching and I realized that I really would rather experience something like that with someone rather than being alone. Granted, I think alone time is super important, but a cultural experience like visiting a new country is something I want to do with someone I love.
- I'm not great at meeting new people. It's the introvert in me and honestly, it's how I've always been. I'm not the type of person to randomly strike up a conversation, to join a random group of people or just go introduce myself to someone I've never met. That makes me feel super uncomfortable and was one of the things I found most challenging while traveling solo.
Moral of my story here? I love exploring and wandering the globe, but I'd much rather have someone with me to experience it with.
6. Cooking for Someone Makes Me Happy
I think this is the Italian grandmother (and mother) in me, but I really do like taking care of people. Especially when it comes to feeding someone. I find so much more joy cooking a meal that someone else will enjoy rather than just for me.
While Matt and I were separated and I was living alone for the first time, I found it really difficult to feel inspired in the kitchen. It felt like such a chore to cook for little old me. So I really didn't that much. Luckily my cousin was still living in NYC at the time and she came over multiple times a week. Plus, having to cook for you guys helped too because I always had leftovers.
But I've realized over time, and I'm sure this will only increase as I get older, that one of my favorite things to do is to cook for other people.
7. I Feel More Confident When I Contribute Financially
Obviously, both Matt and I work full-time, but it's only been for the last two years or so that we have been splitting things equally on the finance side. I was so lucky that when I first decided to quit my marketing job and pursue SQ full-time, Matt had the financial means to support us. He took over all the bills and let me get my feet on the ground with my business.
But as time went on and even though my business was growing, we just kind of let that agreement continue. Once we reevaluated and we realized that I could, in fact, split things 50/50, I have to say that I feel SO much more confident! Not just in my business, but as a person too! I feel strong, I feel empowered, I feel like I kick butt!
Having some “skin the game” so to speak, really does make you take what you're doing more seriously and makes you feel so much more confident and independent. There's a sense of freedom when the finances are shared and I really think it's made me a better entrepreneur as well.
8. I Love Being a Boss Babe
Which leads me to my final point. And that is, I freaking love being a boss babe!
I never used to think that I would start or run my own business, but I feel so damn lucky that I get to do what I love and share my passion with all of you each and every day. Not that this directly relates to being in a relationship, but I'm not sure I ever would have taken this leap if it wasn't for Matt (and my parents). He encouraged me, he supported me (still does!), and believed that I could do it and make it.
So yes, I know that I have put my own blood, sweat and tears into SQ, but I wouldn't be here without the support I got along the way.
And throughout the last 8 years, I've really come into my own and learned that I can do this! Which honestly is one of the best feelings in the world!
I hope you enjoyed this! I know it's a bit different than anything else I've really shared, but I hope that by letting you in on the more personal aspects of my life and opening up a bit more, I'll be able to help you even more deeply.
Of course, I'd love to hear from you as well! If you have questions or anything, just leave them in the comments below and I'll be sure to get back to you!
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