Relationships and Why to Let Your Guard Down

Needing to let your guard down can be terrifying. After getting hurt you spend so much time fixing what was broken. You spend so much time trying to readjust to single life. You spend so much time keeping yourself safe from hurt and just trying to heal.

It’s much easier to keep your heart safe behind the walls that you’ve built so tall and wide. Why risk getting hurt, right? Well, not totally right.  Yes, learning to let your guard down is the last thing you want to do, especially after you’ve finally picked up all the pieces of your broken heart. Why would anyone want to purposely go through that kind of pain again?

Even though getting hurt sucks, big time, deciding to let your guard down is the only way to figure out if they’re the right person for you. Does he make you happy? Is she respectful of your boundaries? Does he provide you with the space you need? Is she understanding of what you’ve gone through? Is he patient enough to wait until you’re ready to move forward? These are important factors when considering letting someone in.

Ultimately, you have to decide if this person is worth potentially getting hurt again, and if dating this person is worth the time and the effort.

Here’s why you should consider letting your guard down…

Fear of the unknown

You’ll never know until you try. Fear can keep us from pursuing a lot of things, especially those that entail risk. This can potentially cause you to miss out on really great opportunities—life altering opportunities—so weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision to let your guard down.

Be yourself

In order to really get to know a person, it’s crucial that you are exactly who you are. With your guard up, you aren’t allowing the true you to interact with this person; there’s a constant façade. With this, you will build a foundation that is not completely honesty. Remember: honesty is the best policy, so be yourself.

Feelings

Along with being yourself, unless you let your guard down you won’t learn how to truly feel about this person. If you don’t let this person in, and if you aren’t able to get to know one another on a deeper level, you won’t be able to figure out if you’re a good match.

Hindering progression

If you’re unable to tear those walls down, you may be hindering your relationship from fully moving forward. Without being all in and giving a relationship an honest try, it may never progress.

Resentment

You may start to resent the relationship, or your partner, if things aren’t moving forward. Again, try to let your guard down.

Wasted time

If you take too long to give it your all, you may end up committing to something that isn’t right for you. The last thing you want is another broken heart and wasted time. Be mindful of this as you decide whether this relationship is truly worth letting your guard down…

Fairness

At the end of the day, you need to be fair to the other person involved. Yes, you want to protect yourself, but it’s also not cool to hurt someone else who was genuinely trying to make things work. Be considerate of the person on the other side, and either really get to know them, or kindly part ways.

Being ready

Being ready to date again is a vital component when putting yourself out there. If you’re not ready to be with someone new, make it known. It’s okay to take the time you need to heal. Mending a broken heart is not an easy task, and there’s no need to rush into a new relationship.

Love will find its way to you when the timing is right…

let your guard down | love | dating | relationships | broken heart

Not sure if it’s real love? Here’s how to know if it’s real love…

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Paula

7 Things to Consider Before Moving in with Your Partner

Doesn’t the thought of moving in with babe make you feel giddy?! Just knowing that you’ll get to wake up to your partner’s gorgeous face every single morning gives you happy feels so gooey that it’s kind of like a scoop of melting vanilla-bean ice cream on a just-out-of-the-oven molten chocolate cake. But is moving in simply about the happy feels? Or is there more to it?

There is a lot to consider when cohabitating, as it is a bigger step than most imagine. At the end of the day, it is two independent people joining forces to share a space. This gives me the feeling that things might get sticky if they’re not handled appropriately.

Yes, you love your partner. And yes, you two basically stay over all the time. But, you still have the ability to return to your own space when you need some alone time. Even though the idea of moving in is bright and beautiful, like a diamond-covered unicorn flying in sky, it doesn’t always lead to a happy ending.

Research has found that compared to Gen X, more Millennials are choosing to move in prior to tying the knot. So before you and your partner jump into cohabitating, like many other millennials, be sure to have a discussion about what living together will look like and how co-adulting will be handled.

Not sure what to talk about? Here are some ideas…

Finances

Money is just that, money. Loving someone is much more important than dolla dolla bills, but we all work very hard to make a living. Considering this, things need to be fair. Talk about who’s paying for what: Will you divvy up all bills? Will you split rent and each pay different utilities? Will one person cover groceries, and the other pick up the tab when dining out? Regardless of your plan, be sure to set some ground rules so that no one feels taken advantage of.

Discussing the “what ifs

Unfortunately, happily ever after isn’t guaranteed. What happens if you two decide to part ways? Will only one of you be on an existing lease? Will you both be on a brand new lease? If things don’t work out, who gets to keep the apartment? How will you split up furniture and belongings? Who keeps the dog? Does the other get visitation rights? A lot of couples invest quite a bit in creating a beautiful home for themselves but don’t consider who-gets-what if things go sour. Not to encourage negative thinking, but this should be discussed prior to potentially signing your life away…

Future goals

Moving in a huge step forward, so it’s important to know whether this is the last step, OR just a stepping stone to the next step. It’s important that you’re both on the same page about where you are in your relationship, as well as what you want in the future. Do you want to get married but your partner doesn’t? Does he want kids but you don’t? It’s important to consider these matters before taking such a big step.

Cleanliness

How do you like to keep your home? Sharing a space with someone can be very difficult if you’re on opposite ends of the spectrum. Many people have tidy living conditions, while others don’t. Are you a clean freak, but your partner’s a messy slob that never does the dishes and puts her dirty shoes on the bed? This can ultimately make or a break a relationship. Making sure that some ground rules are established for tasks such as cleaning, cooking, chores, etc. before the big move is crucial to surviving cohabitation.

Dividing responsibilities

Along with cleaning come many other housekeeping things that need to get done. The list literally feels endless, but who is going to do the laundry? And clean the bathroom? Who’s changing sheets? Who is walking the dog in the morning? Who picks up the mail? Again, talk about the things that need to get done in your home and equally divide tasks. Regardless of how you choose to share responsibility, you should each hold your own and contribute to the household.

Lifestyle

The way in which you and your partner live day-to-day can also determine whether cohabitating will work for you. Do you like to go to bed early, while your partner stays up until 3AM binge-watching GOT? Do you enjoy hosting, but your partner doesn’t like people in his space? Does your partner have friends over all the time, but you prefer less frequent guest visits?

Especially for those who live in small spaces (i.e. studio apartments), this can become a huge barrier to enjoying your living situation. With this, a great deal of negative feelings can arise, which can potentially lead to arguments. Be sure that you have some rules in place. Maybe your partner can use headphones while watching late-night TV, and you and your friends can go to the local bar for drinks. Whatever it is, come up with a solution before you share a space.

Communication

Most importantly, talk to each other.  You partner is not a mind reader, so tell him if something is bothering you. This is a two-way-street, so be sure to encourage your partner to also share any concerns with you. If you two aren’t able to talk things out and come up with a compromise, cohabitating may not be the best move for either of you.

Moving in is such a significant step in a relationship—be sure that you’re both ready to walk up to the ledge and leap…

moving in | cohabitation | love | relationships | dating | communication

Think moving in will cause a lot of fights? Check out these suggestions on how to choose your battles…

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Paula

7 Ways to Be a Supportive Partner During Tough Times

We all have ups and downs in life, and being a supportive partner requires a delicate balance. It can be particularly difficult to watch the person you love most go experience hardship. Being a supportive partner through this rough-patch is important to you, but you’re not quite sure how to approach it…

You love your partner to the moon and back, and would literally do anything to end their suffering. Some of us are fixers, while others may choose to sulk in their sorrow prior to engaging in damage control. Regardless of how you handle hardship, you should approach the topic in the same way that your partner chooses to move forward.

Every single person copes differently, and depending on the situation, as well as your partner, you may need to maneuver with caution. Model after your partner. If they’re gung-ho about getting out there and fighting the battle, join them in that confrontation. If they need to take time to think and feel their emotions, feel with them.

Again, there is no right or wrong way to cope or be a supportive partner. What’s most important is remembering that this isn’t about you, it’s about your partner.

Check out these tips on how to support your partner during a difficult time…

Pay attention

Sometimes people aren’t openly willing to share what’s happening. Be sure to pay attention to any changes in behavior. Is she not as talkative? Is he not his cheerful self? Does she look like she’s been crying? Does he seem angry and irritable? These may be signs that something’s up…

Ask questions

If you notice a difference in your partner, ask what’s going on. This will show your partner that you care, and will also provide them the opportunity to talk about it. Be sure not to probe too much, however. Do not push your partner to share if they are not yet comfortable doing so.

Listen

If your partner is ready to share their experience, listen. Don’t judge, and don’t interrupt. Just listen. Verbally talking about thoughts and feelings is a way to process what’s happening—this can be very helpful, especially if your partner is taking time to let things sink in.

Offer help

When we love and care for someone, it’s likely that our first instincts are to help and protect. This may not always be what your partner needs, so be sure to ask how you can be supportive. It’s possible that listening is all the help your partner needs, and that’s okay. If more help is asked for, be sure that it falls within your boundaries too.

Provide encouragement

Remind your partner of how intelligent, kind, and strong he is. Remind her that she is talented and capable of achieving anything. Provide him that delicate push and support he needs, and remind him he has the skills to overcome this, as well as any, roadblock.

Stand united

Help your partner see that you will be there through thick and thin, and that you’ll stay by her side no matter what happens. Let him know how much he means to you.

Hug it out

Physical touch can be very helpful, especially during times of hardship. Research has shown that something as simple as a hug can release happy chemicals in our brain, such as Oxytocin. Not only that, but it will continually strengthen the bond you share. If you feel uncomfortable doing any of the things listed above and only want to give hugs, it’s just as helpful…

Being there for your partner, no matter in what sense, is incredible. Remember to breathe, and everything will work itself out. Stay hopeful, and remember to search for the silver lining…

supportive partner | love | relationships | hardship | communication | support

Still not sure how to convey wanting to be a supportive partner? Check out these tips on how to best communicate with your partner…

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Paula

Finding the Right Kind of Love Can Be Life-Changing

Finding love isn’t terribly difficult, but finding the right kind of love can be life-changing. We’ve all been in one of those relationships where things look so great on paper, and yeah, you get along, but there’s still something missing. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but deep down in your soul, you know it’s not enough…

This type of love ends up being the worst because you’re constantly trying to avoid that nagging feeling that something’s missing, which causes one to make excuses for negative feelings or bad treatment. At this point you might wonder if this is what true love is actually like? It’s definitely not.

When you finally find the right kind of love, you’ll know it. I used to laugh when my happily-coupled friends would give me the “when you know, you know” speech. I seriously thought it was a joke—until I knew. Being in love isn’t always enough, but being in the right kind of love is key.

So, what makes love right? This is something that varies from person-to-person, but I do believe that there are some general themes we, as a species, need to feel safe and happy.

What makes love the right kind of love?

When love is easy

Loving your partner is easy. You literally love every single thing about him, and you would never want him to change. Perfectly flowing and vibing with another person is unbelievably rare, and it is a definite sign of being in the right kind of love.

Feeling fulfilled

You wake up every morning not wanting anything more in life. Having this person by your side is all that you need. Nothing is missing. Nothing is lacking. Your heart is full.

Feeling safe

Sharing your life with someone you respect, value, and trust, allows you to feel safe. You know that you are there for one another, to care for and support each other. You feel a sense of stability that allows you the comfort to go out into the world and live your own life, but know you have a happy, positive life waiting for you at home too.

Reliability

Knowing that you can count on your other half is vital to the success of any relationship. If your partner is there when things go downhill, he’s a keeper.

Support 

No matter what happens, good or bad, your partner is by your side. This needs to be a two-way street, of course, but knowing that this person will be by your side through thick and thin, is incredible.

Openness

When you and your partner are able to speak freely about anything, all while knowing that the other will listen with open ears and an open-heart, is the epitome of healthy communication. She will hear you, and you two will engage in a discussion rather than a fight. This is gold.

You can be yourself

The beat part of being in a relationship is having those inside jokes. You can be super goofy and weird together, and it’s totally okay. You guys always have fun, even when you’re doing nothing. You want to do everything with her because things are more fun when she’s around. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Teamwork

Not only is your partner your best friend, but you guys also make a great team. You two are a force to reckon with. No matter what life throws your way, you work together to move past it. Not only that, but you overcome barriers in a way that is supportive of one another, and has the others’ best interest at heart. Nothing can break the two of you…

Loyalty and honesty

You know that your partner will never do anything to break the trust and bond that you share. It’s deep-rooted in your soul, and there is no doubt in your mind that your partner will always be truthful and loyal. Having that peace of mind is priceless.

Loving selflessly

Last but not least, the love that you have for this person is different than any other love you’ve experienced. It’s selfless, it’s wholehearted, and it has no bounds, and it’s mutual. When you find someone who can love you just as much as you love them, if not more, it’s the ultimate blessing.

A love like this is meant to be cherished and nurtured. It is beautiful. It is patient. It is kind. It is life-changing. Treat it as best as you can. Love it like Kanye loves Kanye. And once you find it, don’t let it go…

love | life changing | relationships | support | trust

Still not sure you’ve got the right kind of love? Check out how travelling with your partner before tying the knot can help!

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Paula

Relationships: How to Know if it’s Real Love

Relationships are particularly tricky, especially when trying to figure out whether it’s real love or not. When we are in a new relationship, it’s as if the world is now made of chocolate chip coated cotton candy clouds. Everything is pleasant, and peaceful, and your heart is so filled with joy that it’s left your body and made its way up to heaven without you.

This initial stage of love, also known as the honeymoon phase, is so much fun. But once your cotton candy bubble pops, your love can look significantly different. The question is, however, is it the love that’s different? Or is it you that’s feeling different?

Being in love can lead to a skewed perception of reality. Feeling all the love can cause one to ignore possible red flags, potentially turn a blind eye to dishonesty, and even accept behaviors that aren’t okay. Once you’re able to make your way back down to planet earth from those cotton candy clouds, you may, or may not, like what you’re seeing.

There can be a wide-array of barriers when it comes to actually understanding whether the relationship you’re in is right for you. Is it healthy? Is it making you happy? Are you at ease? Every single person has a unique set of needs when it comes to finding the right partner, as well as the right kind of love. There are many things to consider, so what do you need to look for to discover if it’s real love?

How to know if love is real… 

Self-love

When you find the right kind of love, it becomes a lot easier to discover just how much you love yourself. I truly believe that self-love is part of the foundation of any successful relationship. Alongside trust, communication, and respect, the way in which you love yourself is also how you will accept love. When you love yourself, you have the insight and ability to know whether or not you’re not being treated appropriately, and you can better understand if this love makes you feel good about life and yourself. When it’s real love, you’ll feel it in your bones…

Boundaries

Being able to set boundaries with your partner, and make him or her aware of your needs is crucial to the success of your relationship. Anyone can set boundaries, however, it’s whether or not your partner respects those boundaries. If your needs aren’t being met, it possible that you won’t continue to be cuddled up in your cotton candy clouds.

Things are easy

Yes, all couples have problems and conflict can sometimes arise. But if at the end of the day things flow pretty nicely, and being together is easy and fun, you’re definitely on the path to a healthy relationship.

Relationships are not meant to be hard, they’re meant to be fulfilling and joyful…

Lifestyle and compatibility 

Do you two like the same things, and want to live life the same way? Are you able to complete your partners sentences? Do you know exactly what your partner is thinking when he sees the dog with the rainbow mohawk walking down the street? That’s great. You’re compatible, you want the same things in life, and you understand one another. Being able to engage in fun activities together allows your love to blossom and build a strong bond.

Compromise

When you and your partner are able to make decisions based on both of your needs without becoming resentful, you’re solid. Engaging in a discussion about potential life altering changes, and figuring out how to make those changes, all while respecting one another, has a lot to do with love. If someone doesn’t love you, they wouldn’t be willing to switch things up and make improvements.

Guilt be gone 

Guilt is something you don’t want in a relationship. Being able to put yourself first, whether it be for your career, schooling, or for the sake of balance, without your partner making you feel guilty, is pretty spectacular. Knowing that you are free to do whatever you need without worrying that you’ll come home to an angry partner is truly a gift.

If your partner understands you and provides you the space that you need to care for yourself, that is a selfless act. It’s kind, and it conveys a great deal of love…

Acceptance

Accepting one another, as you are, and not wanting to change a thing is a very loving gesture. It is hard to enjoy every single thing about a person, but if you are capable of doing that with your partner, it’s real love.

Love is all around you. How you choose receive and extend love is up to you…

real love | relationships | love | lifestyle

~Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash~

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Paula

10 Emotional Consequences of a Dysfunctional Relationship

If you’ve ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, please raise your hand. Yup—my arm is definitely in the air…

The battle with dysfunctional relationships is that they may not seem so bad at first. The red flags are usually there, but they’re not severe enough to cause alarm until you’re in pretty deep. Or it’s possible that it was a choice to overlook those concerning behaviors all along. Regardless, they’re very misleading…

I decided to address this topic today because a reader recently reached out to me and shared her story. I think it takes a lot of courage to become aware of how dangerous some of these red flags are, and most importantly, being able to acknowledge that you deserve better. I personally went through something very similar, and experienced many of the emotional obstacles discussed in this article.

While undergoing the internal struggle between the madness of things eventually getting better, or you needing to make a run for it, it’s possible to suffer a great deal of psychological and emotional harm in the interim. With this, you begin to question everything and start to feel that you don’t deserve better. But guess what? You do!

That’s what a dysfunctional relationship does—it causes you to feel as though you are not worthy of love, and care, and happiness, and stability, and all other things that allow one to feel secure and safe. But you are worthy.

Dysfunctional relationships can cause a lot of damage, and whether you’re in a place where you’re contemplating a break-up, or have already walked away, there is a great deal to overcome once it’s over…

10 emotional consequences of a dysfunctional relationship:

1. Decreased self-esteem

It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when the person who is supposed to bring out the best in you makes you feel small.  Actions such as pushing you away, making you feel unwanted or unimportant, constantly placing blame, or only pointing out your faults, can absolutely cause a significant drop in your self-worth.

In situations like this, remember that you’re not the problem. This type of treatment is unacceptable. Be sure to stand up for yourself (if safe), and engage in activities that will your self-love on a daily basis. Constantly use this as a reminder of just how great you are…

2. Feeling at fault

Remember that the way in which your partner acts or treats you is not your fault. Each person is responsible for their own actions, and should be able to address matters in a respectful and kind way. If your partner makes you feel as though they need to treat you poorly, that is not on you. And you shouldn’t tolerate that type of treatment either…

3. Somatic symptoms

Sometimes our feelings can be so severe that they physically manifest themselves. Going through an emotional rollercoaster can literally make you feel sick to your stomach. If you start to experience physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

At this point, it is important to consider the way in which your relationship is effecting your health. Your wellness should always be your top priority.

4. Lack of motivation

It’s really difficult to achieve your goals and focus on the things that matter when you’re distracted by your relationship. Not to mention, negative feelings and decreased self-esteem can strongly interfere in your successes.

5. All the negativity

Experiencing a plethora of negative thoughts and feelings over an extended period of time can be very unhealthy. Between the anger, resentment, sadness, self-doubt, and disappointment, it can feel nearly impossible to find some joy.

Try to keep your head above water by surrounding yourself with people you love—people that are supportive. Engaging in activities that make you feel good is also a healthy way to combat some of the negativity…

6. Inapt priorities

Our priorities shift due to life circumstances. When in a dysfunctional relationship, priorities become blurred, and what’s important can sometimes be placed on the backburner. Be sure to always put yourself first and maintain sight of your needs.

7. Isolation

Depending on the direction in which your relationship is going, it’s possible that you may become isolated. Whether you’ve become disinterested in socializing, or spend all of your free time with your partner and his circle or friends, this can be very serious. Try to remain in contact with your friends and family, and make time to see them.

Also, feeling isolated and unsupported can absolutely hinder you from walking away from a dysfunctional relationship, if you decide to. Your social network is a resource—keep the lines of communication open.

8. Learning to tolerate abuse

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, including emotional, verbal, and physical. Being mistreated so often eventually starts to feel normal. This is extremely problematic, and being abused is never okay. If you need help, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

9. Tolerating dishonesty

Whether lying, cheating, or stealing, dishonest behavior should not be tolerated. Trust is an important part of any relationship, and you deserve better.

10. Losing yourself

Whether losing sight of who you are, or losing your voice and ability to stand up for yourself, this is the most difficult emotional outcome to recover from. Not being heard when trying to speak your mind is destructive and hurtful. Being with a person who is not interested in hearing your thoughts or feelings is a person that is not worthy of you

Dysfunctional relationships are exactly that, dysfunctional. Don’t allow yourself to feel that you are to blame for all of the misfortunes of your relationship. You’re not, and you deserve more

relationships | love | dysfunctional relationship | emotions

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Paula

10 Ways to Love Your Partner Wholeheartedly

Love is selfless, love is kind, love is a gift.

Love is one of those things that we can feel, see in the eyes of another, and verbally express. However, it’s not something we can measure. One can say they will love their partner to the moon and back, or more than unicorns love cotton candy, but actions speak much louder than words.

In my current relationship, I have been able to recognize real love. The difference is that rather than hearing simply hearing “I love you,” I can feel it in my bones. I can see it in how he treats me. I can experience it in how we communicate. I know we are right for each other because he loves me the way I need to be loved.

Love languages are real. The way each person expresses and interprets love is unique—if someone can love you the way that you need to be loved and vice versa, you’re definitely ahead of the game.

Above all, choosing to love someone is much stronger than the love itself.

You can love a flower, but if you neglect to nurture and water it, it will die. Relationships are similar—to maintain a strong and healthy relationship, you must invest an appropriate amount of time and effort into nurturing that connection and meeting the needs of your partner.

Please don’t confuse meeting the needs of your partner with neglecting yourself. You can engage in a great deal of giving in a relationship, all while not losing sight of your own needs and boundaries. Remember that compromise is vital in the success of a relationship, and it’s important to maintain a balance.

Balance is key.

Love is different for each person, but the foundation of a relationship comes down to a few things…

What is love?

1. It’s a choice

You and your partner must choose to be with one another—to be present, to be invested, and to be engaged. If one person is not as interested in the relationship as the other, problems will arise. Don’t stay in a relationship if it’s for the wrong reasons, as it is emotional torture for both parties.

2. It’s a priority

You can include someone in your life, but not prioritize him or her. Create a life together, and include that person in your decision process. Whether deciding if you’ll relocate for a job, or what to order for dinner, include your partner in making a decision. This person is your other half, and should be allowed an opinion and choice.

3. It’s compromise

Put your partner first. Sometimes it’s the little things, and sometimes it’s the big things. As long as you know what your limits are, it is okay to put your partner’s needs before your own sometimes. Sacrifice is a huge part of relationships, and it will show your partner just how committed and invested you are. However, it’s important to remember that this is a two-way street.

4. It’s being dependable

Be there. No matter what it is, be there for your partner. If you two cannot be there to care for and support one another, who will be? Again, prioritize your partner and relationship over other things.

5. It’s being present

Be there—emotionally and mentally. This is crucial to the success of any relationship. Presence isn’t necessarily a physical concept, and we are able to see that in long-distance relationships that are healthy. Connection isn’t about where you are, but rather, at what capacity you’re present. Be involved.

6. It’s putting up a fight

Fight for the person you care for, no matter what the situation is. If you want person this person to be a part of your life, fight. 

7. It’s picking your battles

Some things are worth fighting for, and others just aren’t. Decide when you’re willing to compromise, and talk to your partner when you’re not. As long as you communicate, things will be okay. 

8. It’s getting physical

Physical attraction and love are a huge part of relationships. Be intimate and love your partner. I’m not just talking about sex, but rather, connecting with your partner. Whether it’s cuddling, holding hands, or engaging in a mere kiss, it’s the simple things that can feel the most intimate…

9. It’s not taking your partner for granted

Love your partner and treat them with kindness and respect on the regular. If you knew today was the last day you would see your partner, what would you say? What would you do? Yeah—that’s how you should treat your partner every single day. You never know when the last time is the last time…

10. It’s a package

Respect, commitment, trust, compromise, fun, laughter, etc. Love is a package. How you choose to seal, wrap, and deliver that package is what makes each relationship unique. The basic foundation of each relationship comes down to a few vital and necessary qualities; this allows for a healthy relationship to continually thrive and develop.

Choose commitment. Choose happiness. Love wholeheartedly

Love | wholehearted | compromise | relationship | commitment

Wanting to reignite the spark in your relationship? Check out our ten tips on how to keep the novelty alive!

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Paula

Why Millennials Are Choosing to Postpone Marriage

The concept of marriage is drastically shifting, and societal norms have a lot to do with the way in which Millennials choose to live their lives. Not only that, but there are also family expectations, cultural values to follow, and personal hopes and desires to consider. So how does one find a balance? It can be difficult, but possible to make it work.

I grew up in a family that was pretty set in their ways. I was the youngest, and the only one of my sisters to move away for college. And even though very out of the ordinary for my parents, they were able to see the value in my decision to relocate and step out of my comfort zone. Soon after, things began to slowly progress and they chilled out a bit.

Now that I’m thirty, the “when are you getting married?” question keeps making its way into every single one of our conversations. My parents absolutely adore my boyfriend, so they’re hoping the answer will be “tomorrow.”

Following the question of when, comes “why wait?” I always want to respond with the many reasons as to why my boyfriend and I are waiting, but I don’t think they’ll quite understand due to the generational gap.

I believe that, just like myself and those in my network, many millennials are choosing to hold off on marriage. This may not be because they haven’t met the right person, but rather, because life has so much to offer.

Couples can absolutely embark on a million adventures together, and many may prefer it that way, but I’ll be the first to admit that our generation is selfish. We like what we like, we want what we want, and we want it done in the best possible way.

Best looks differently for each person, so flying solo can ultimately be necessary. Doing things exactly as you want them can be difficult when there is an entirely separate set of needs and ideas to consider when making decisions.

So, millennials are marrying later in life. Clearly the definition and face of marriage has changed overtime. With this transition, people are marrying later for many reasons. Most of these reasons are different than why people married in, let’s say, 1950. Let’s talk about some of the changes:

1. The need for accomplishment

There’s really no need to rush into a marriage. As individuals, millennials have plenty of things to accomplish. It is a time to focus on establishing a career, and also embark on adventure after adventure. There is an abundance of opportunities to explore, and these are the life-changing experiences that can shape a person.

2. Self-actualization

There is now more of an emphasis on knowing who you are than ever before. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs includes self-actualization as one of the five human needs. Although it is the most difficult to achieve, it is one that involves development and growth, and allows one the space to truly become the best version of themselves.

Engaging in creative outlets and projects, and exposing hearts and minds to the world is such a beautiful thing. This is also something that other generations may not have had the opportunity to do. Living in a time such as this one is truly a privilege.

3. Shift in gender roles

Women and men are no longer confined to specific gender roles; these roles have become fluid. Women are no longer needing to marry for financial support, and men no longer need to marry in order to procreate and have a wifey to care for the family.

Women now have educations, careers, and are really living it up in what used to be a “man’s world.” Men are learning to cook and do laundry, and some are even stay-at-home dads. Bottom line, both men and women are independent and able to care for, and provide for themselves.

4. Procreation and the concept of family

Having children was relationship goals for centuries. Now, however, it seems as though less and less people are having children. According to the NIH, “the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 live births per woman for most industrialized countries.” This quite low compared to the average of 3.67 in the United States between 1955 and 1960.

A recent study did find that more highly educated women in the US are bearing more children than in previous years, however, they are doing so later in life. According to the Washington Post, “the share of mothers with at least a master’s degree who have just one child fell from 28 percent to 23 percent [;] while those having three or more children rose from 22 percent to 27 percent.”

5. Taking time to find the right one

It’s now possible to link to literally the entire world. Millennials are able to interact with anyone and everyone, via a plethora of platforms, so why settle for a relationship that’s mediocre when one can potentially have an incredible love? Why settle for what’s right here when you might find exactly what you’re looking for out there? There’s really no rush, and settling shouldn’t be an option.

6. Cohabitation plus some

Due to this major shift in cultural and societal norms, couples are now able to live like married couples without actually being married. More and more couples cohabitate and have families without tying the knot. Society has allowed for a type of leeway that wasn’t available before, and millennials are taking advantage of it.

7. Freedom to love as one chooses

Millennials have the freedom to choose. Millennials choose who to be with, when to be together, at what capacity, and if marriage is the right thing for them. Love comes in a million shapes and sizes, and is no longer as simple as going steady, putting a ring on it, then getting married. Love is so much more than that. And I truly believe that millennials have been able to experience love at its’ best because of the freedom to do so.

marriage | millennials | relationships | love | dating

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xx,

Paula

Intimacy is About More Than Sex

Intimacy is something all human beings desire, and it is part of each person’s psychosocial development. Intimacy vs. isolation is a concept based on Erik Erikson’s psychoanalytical theory. This is an important stage because it is the time in which adults meet someone they can connect with and commit to. With this, one is able to set themselves up for meaning in life, which is pertinent to success in the following stages.

The meaning of “intimacy” has shifted overtime, as many psychosocial ideologies do. Intimacy, specifically for millennials, seems to now have a varied significance. Sex appears to be a primary marker of intimacy, whether or not an emotional attachment is incorporated.

So can sex be intimate? Yes. But is it the only form of intimacy? No. Can we be taught how to be intimate, just like we’re taught about sex? Think about it—from the time that teens hit puberty, education on safe sex, how not to get pregnant, and how to avoid contracting an STI are part of the curriculum. What about learning how to be intimate? Or learning what intimacy is? There is such an emphasis on sex, and I find that society, and especially media, have displayed sex as the prime form of intimacy.

Is it possible that sex is a way for two people to convey their level of intimacy? Absolutely. Sex is simply a physical act, and anyone can engage. However, intimacy is something very special, and it takes a lot of time and effort to develop such a deep connection with another individual.

Let’s talk about some other forms of intimacy…

7 ways to be intimate:

1. Trust

I cannot express how important trust is in a relationship. The first step to building a strong bond is to trust and feel safe with your partner. Without trust, there is no intimacy.

2. Love

Just like trust, love and care are vital components of intimacy. To see the best in a person, and choose to share your life with them says a lot. Building upon your relationship day by day allows for the constant strengthening of that connection.

3. Communication

Sharing pieces of yourself that are either meaningful or difficult to talk about allows both of you to become more intimate. Learning about one another, especially when discussing hopes, dreams, desires, or traumatic experiences, will further expand on your relationship. Trust is crucial in instances such as these.

4. Physical touch

Sometimes the more basic aspects of physical touch, such as cuddling, holding hands, or hugging, allow two people to feel closer to one another. It contributes to intimacy, supports your relationship, and keeps the novelty alive.

5. Spending alone time

Spending alone time together as a couple, whether engaging in an activity, or just hanging out, also provides an opportunity to increase intimacy. Something as simple as lying on a blanket in the park while holding hands and watching the leaves blow in the wind is romantic and warrants a deeper connection.

6. Peacefully sharing space

Many couples cohabitate, and this too can increase intimacy. Peacefully sharing space and a life with someone else exhibits a great deal of trust and love. This allows for a deeper level of understanding about your partner and their needs, as well as your own. Compromise and respect will most likely play a significant role here. Learning about one another in a brand new setting will surely improve your relationship.

7. Being yourself

Being your true self with another individual is the highest level of intimacy. Letting your guard down, opening up, trusting someone, and sharing some of the most private parts of yourself takes a great deal of courage. If you and your partner have a connection that allows you to be fully unfiltered versions of yourselves, know that you have reached an incredible place in your relationship, and an extraordinary degree of intimacy.

There are many layers of intimacy, and yes, sex is a part of that, but don’t sell yourself short and miss out on the incredible, loving, and trusting bond you and your partner can have together…

intimacy | relationships | bond | connection | love | trust

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xx,

Paula

How to Keep the Novelty Alive in Your Relationship

The Novelty can wear in any long-term relationship. That doesn’t mean that your love is fading, but rather, that the honeymoon phase is long gone. You two have fallen into a routine, and even though you still enjoy each other’s company, that spark seems like a distant memory. That flame doesn’t burn as bright. And the romance is beginning to dwindle.

Relationships, no matter how long, can always maintain a sense of novelty. That sense of newness and intense desire doesn’t ever need to fade. The secret to keeping the novelty alive is being present.

Be involved in your relationship. Be open, be interactive, and keep the flame burning bright. If you and your partner don’t create a nurturing environment for your relationship, it will wither.

As in all aspects of a healthy relationship, communication is also important. Tell each other what you need, find new ways to expand your love for one another, and make plans to keep your relationship alive.

The earlier you start this process, the better. If you build this concept into the foundation of your relationship, you will thank yourselves later. My boyfriend and I plan something special for each monthaversary because it gives us a reason to celebrate our love, be romantic, and spend quality time with one another. We also take a few minutes to chat before bed every night. This really helps us stay connected to one another…

What will you and your partner do to maintain the glimmer in your spark??

10 ways to keep the novelty alive in your relationship:  

Say I love you everyday

This is a super basic concept, but it makes a huge difference. Remind your partner that you love him or her each and every day. It will allow you to keep the lines of communication open, and it is also a way to nurture your relationship and let your partner know that they’re an important part of your life.

Schedule date night

Life gets busy and time escapes us, so make sure to regularly plan date nights. Whether it’s going out to dinner, having a Saturday picnic at the park, or staying home and playing board games, you and your partner will get to spend some quality time together.

Laugh together

Engage in activities that allow for a lot of laughter and fun. This is also a way to provide your relationship with a re-boot, especially if things have been a bit rough. With this, you and your partner will be reminded of why you love one another so much, and it can also provide you with a fresh perspective on your bond.

Engage in new experiences

Try new things together. Whether it’s bungee jumping, traveling to a new country, or taking a cooking class, this too will help keep your relationship alive. Engaging in new experiences will allow both you and your partner to learn new things about yourselves and each other. It also provides a lot of room for excitement, and to support and care for one another if needed.

Get physical

Hug and kiss each other every day, even if you’re mad. Physical touch is a way for couples to connect and be intimate. Also, who doesn’t love to be cuddled? I sure as hell do…

Say thank you

Day to day life becomes so normal and tedious that we forget to say thank you. Your partner makes breakfast every morning, which even though may be an obligation, is also very kind. Saying thank you can truly make all the difference.

Give positive feedback

Similar to saying thank you, tell your partner when they’re doing something you like, or something that makes you happy. Positive feedback will reinforce this behavior. Also, it will help your partner see that you’re aware of, and recognizing his or her efforts. That’s really important.

Communicate

Talk to each other. About what? Anything. Pass time chatting—it’s such a great way to connect. Regardless of your conversation being that of a serious nature, or making silly jokes, just talk to one another. Feeling comfortable sharing things with your partner will absolutely help strengthen your bond. With this, you and your partner will be able to jointly embrace the joys of life, and also lean on one another in times of hardship.

Just the two of you

Whether you have kids to care for, or it’s just the two of you, make sure that there is something that is just yours. As a couple, have a special TV show you watch before bed, or have a quick phone chat each day at lunch, or a coffee date before work every morning. Whatever the situation, this mini-date every day will provide you with an extra opportunity to connect and know that you’re thinking of each other.

Be present

Being present is vital to keeping the love alive. Be there. When you’re together, be involved, be aware, be part of the conversation. If you’re engaging your phone instead of your partner, you’re sending a very clear message that he or she is not important. When spending time together, be conscious of where your mind is. When not present, there is a clear distance that will begin to tear apart your relationship.

Be kind, be loving, and be supportive. Love is a such a beautiful thing, and we need to care for it as best as possible…Keep the love alive!

novelty | keep the love alive | love | relationships | hope

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xx,

Paula