For a while now, I’ve planned to get my girlfriend to contribute some articles for my site; it’s something we’ve talked about for the last 6 months or so. Just like I struggled to write my very first article, she found it incredibly hard to start writing – she had no idea what to write about, or what to say, or how to structure her ideas, or what “voice” she should use. She had to face the same fears I did: “Will my words be of any value? Will anyone read this? Will I sound like an idiot? What if I can’t think of anything?”
In the end she decided to just put pen to paper, and jotted down some ideas about what it’s been like to be in a relationship with me. It came out as a bit of a ramble (hey, so did my first few articles). But I think it’s a great first effort.
As you read, bare in mind I’ve never made any claims that our relationship is perfect, or that I’m the greatest boyfriend in the world or that she’s the best girlfriend known to man. Both of us are fallible; we struggle, we make mistakes, we let each other down. That’s very much part of a relationship. But as long as you’re striving for honesty and treating each other like you’re on the same team, then you’re on the right path.
I thought about cutting up what she wrote and adding my own thoughts to it, or including parts of it as quotes to support other articles I was writing. But in the end I decided to just post her words here in their entirity.
I go on and on about honesty and “being on the same team“; which all sounds great in theory. But without hearing from girls themselves, how are you going to know if what I’m saying is correct, or if it’s something that’s only good in theory? I think it’s important to hear from the horse’s mouth exactly what honesty is really like for a girl (because it’s not always easy – honesty takes a lot of commitment, maturity & patience. It can be a lot of pressure sometimes).
If you get something out of her words, drop a comment below and let me/her know. She’ll write more on this and other topics in future; this was her first effort at a full article.
In my relationship with Andy I started off by saying I didn’t want love. I didn’t want to be loved. I didn’t want a relationship. I would’t be affectionate, I got awkward about holding hands. Despite secretly adoring the feeling of all that I deemed too ‘intimate’, I’d labelled it all as not allowed. My mindset of: ‘I can’t love you, or even really like you’, wasn’t exactly starting with a ‘you and me on the same team’ mentality.
After about a month of seeing one another I remember the conversation; I was lying in Andy’s bed, and somehow the conversation found its way to the topic of liking one another. With a hell of a lot of patience, and Andy persistently encouraging me, I sheepishly admitted that I liked him. It was the definition of making a big deal out of nothing. I wasn’t immediately rejected, made fun of or ghosted and the world didn’t crumble around me. If fact, he encouraged me to be honest and reiterated that nothing bad would happen. Needless to say, admitting I was in love a few months later was an even bigger crisis.
Creating an open and honest relationship was a matter of slowly becoming comfortable with opening up. Andy repeatedly showed and reminded me that nothing bad would happen if I told the truth, if anything I was praised for it. And after hitting that reward centre in my brain enough times, the positive reenforcement broke down a hell of a lot of my emotional barriers.
Some of the big and pretty terrifying things I’ve had to open up about include and are not limited to:
– Struggles with an eating disorder and other self destructive behaviours
– Staying in touch (friends) with a guy I had previously slept with and never mentioning it
– Jealousy and insecurity about other girls
– Thoughts of cheating
– A deep-seated fear that I’d never be good enough.
Every single time (while they may not have been the most pleasant conversations) things were always better after talking about it. And ultimately we’ve become much closer as a result. I look at Andy and know he knows everything, he knows the ‘terrible’ thoughts I’ve had and I know he still accepts me. That acceptance is unbelievably freeing.
For me personally, I’ve found that it has been worth the short term discomfort, because it means that I have complete trust in Andy. I don’t have to feel like I’m holding back or worrying that I might slip up and say the wrong thing. My guard is completely down and I can let go.
There are a couple of moments I distinctly remember keeping something to myself for days, even weeks. I went back and forth about whether I should tell Andy, ultimately knowing it would have to come out eventually. Often it would be an incredibly long message or a shameful and teary admission, but in almost every instance, I’ve been met with compassion and understanding. Andy makes me want to tell him the truth, he’s encouraged me for doing so, even when I’m not telling him good news. There were instances where that didn’t feel good, if I’m honest sometimes it would feel awful, but there’s never that feeling of: ‘I can’t tell him that.’
I’ve gone to coffee with friends, had chats about their relationships and I will be the first to admit that it’s very easy to dish out the advice, and tell them: “just be honest” “talk to him about it”. But doing it yourself is another thing. For me, being honest was scary. Being vulnerable was scary. The thought of Andy rejecting me if I opened up was really fucking scary.
Even now, when honesty is expected as a baseline, I still fuck up. The other day I binge ate and wasn’t going to tell Andy until he asked about it. That’s not being on the same team, and it felt like shit admitting it. Sometimes I’ll be in a bad mood and want to push Andy away and visa versa, but with the mantra of ‘on the same team’, even when the other person might be a little resistant, we’ll try to talk it out, and be honest in order to pull one another closer.
There is the other side, in which I’ll be on the receiving end of some honest words. There’s been a number of times where Andy has told me things I don’t necessarily want to hear. He’s prefaced it by saying: “it’ll make you upset if I tell you, but we’re on the same team, so…” And I respect it and appreciate it. I respect that it’s not easy to deliver tough love sometimes. And I’m grateful for it because I know it is ultimately in the interest of our relationship. It means we don’t resent each other, so we don’t feel like we have to hold things in.
Now, as I’ve drilled: ‘bring them onto your team’, into my head, I’ve found that it helps with all of my relationships. With my family, friends, at work.
Even a month or so ago, I was worried about the security of my work. I kept thinking my boss was disappointed in me, that he was going to fire me, or that I was never doing a good enough job. When I expressed my worries, and literally said: “sometimes I worry I have no idea what I’m doing” he went above reassuring me, and begun to tell me how he sometimes has the same thought.
As someone that is terrified of offending people, saying the wrong thing and being judged, being honest and bringing other people onto the same team was one of the scariest things I’ve tried doing. But in hindsight, putting up barriers and always having my guard up was exhausting too.
Undoubtedly, having honesty as a core principle in our relationship from the get go has made things much easier, and I’m incredibly thankful that Andy has encouraged it, because I had no clue about what I was doing in my first real relationship.
Being someone that’s very prone to worry, it means I’m not constantly concerned about what Andy is thinking about, or what’s going on in his head. I know where we’re at, it removes a lot of doubt and if I’m ever unsure on anything I know I can just ask.