I have had a million different thoughts spinning in my head throughout the wedding planning process. I just got home from picking out my dress and finally sat to let it sink in that the first thing Robert will see me in as his wife is being created right now. All of the delicate details are being crafted for the one day I have dreamed about since I was a little girl, and I can’t wait to see the love of my life waiting at the end of the aisle for me. Writing that gives me chills.
Now that I’m home I’m listening to a few of our favorite songs and daydreaming about how amazing that day will be. One thought led to another, and I realized something kind of incredible about our story. Any heartbreak we’ve faced in the past worked out for the best. Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how worth all of the pain it this is now. Humans are all the same, and we all face ups and downs in life. Adults know what heartbreak feels like, how hard it is to be rejected, how tiring dating around can be, and how incredible love is.
At 27 I don’t know everything, but I do know that even if your heart feels like it’s been completely shattered, it can be put back together again. I know that pain is often fleeting, as are lonely moments. I know that perfection doesn’t exist, but loving someone who is imperfect can be even more beautiful, and finally, I know that sometimes you may think you’ve lost someone you love, only to realize that you had absolutely no idea what love really is.
All of our heartbreak and dead ends along the way have brought us together, and at the end of the day, it really does only matter who we end up with. I can remember vividly what it feels like to be heartbroken, but at the same time I don’t ever think about it anymore. I am in such a different chapter of my life that none of that will ever be a part of it again.
The reason I wanted to write all of this is that I know so many twenty-somethings are still figuring things out and some have given up on love or others because of a few bad experiences or terrible heartbreaks. I want to keep cheering you on — whether or not you are dating around — and offer myself as a reminder that circumstances in life change greatly. We sometimes have our crazy ups and downs, but I promise you it is all worthwhile and you are never truly alone, even if it feels that way. Whether you’re married, single, engaged, or have completely written off dating, just remember that heartbreak fades away and one day you might just be lucky enough to realize why things didn’t work out, even if at one point you had hoped they would. God might laugh at the things we think are best for ourselves, but ultimately He knows what is best for us and wants what’s best for us. If we are willing to let go of the things that aren’t right for us, we make room for the beautiful and wonderful things that are meant to come our way.
Never settle for someone just because they’re safe or familiar. Marry your best friend, your partner in crime, your ride or die. This doesn’t guarantee life will always be easy for the two of you, but it does mean that you can be absolutely certain that no matter what comes your way, you’ll have something that is constant and someone who will be there through thick and thin. In the meantime, if you haven’t found your person yet, embrace the single life and find other things to be joyful for. There are so many wonderful love stories in the world, and not all of them are built through romance. Cultivating beauty in other aspects of your life will make the love you find just that much richer when the timing is right. Hang in there, and remember that you are so loved. ❤
Wow, the past few months have been crazy in the best way.
Robert and I got engaged in November and I had plenty of time to breathe and enjoy our new titles as “fiancée” and “fiancé” (Side note: did you know that the word differs in spelling for a man and a woman? Two “e’s” mean the word is for a female, and just one makes it male). Now that I’m in month five of being engaged I want to tell you all how everything has been and what kind of advice I have for people when they first get engaged too.
First, one thing I did that I would absolutely do over and over again is that I kept the engagement off social media for a little over a week. It was so special having this little secret with Robert and all my loved ones, and it made that time so memorable and easier to live in the moment. Rather than getting hundreds of calls, texts, and well wishes online, we were able to hold hands and be quietly excited at the thought of getting to marry each other one day in the near future. It felt a lot more intimate and all of the new changes had time to sink in before announcing our new status to the world.
Second, I recommend actually searching for venues after taking a few weeks to let everything sink in. My initial response to the dozens of “Have you set a date?!” question was, “I am just taking some time to enjoy being engaged.” While that is all fine and dandy, I knew I wanted to get married in the fall. We got engaged in the winter, and wanted a fall wedding. Had I started right away I would have had about a year to plan, whereas I knocked off about a third of that to just sit back and relax. Luckily, everything on that front has worked itself out and I’m really happy with the way our plans are materializing, but the Washington DC area is super competitive, even in the wedding industry. If you want to get married on a certain date or time of year, you should keep that in mind while figuring out how long you are going to be engaged and when to start planning.
Third, there is no right or wrong timeline. Some engagements are short, others are long, and there are a million in between. Figure out what you think is right, then just go for it! Planning such a big event is definitely a new and unique challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun once you stop dipping your toes in the water and just jump into planning. Luckily, all of the research I’ve done in college and assignments I had at Seventeen are really paying off, because it takes a lot of work to find the right vendors to create a big event like this.
Finally, enjoy second of being engaged and make sure to still go on date nights and do things outside of planning your wedding. Time goes by so fast, and before you know it you’ll be a husband or wife instead of just a fiancé(e)!
As unromantic as it sounds, finding your forever and always person is all about giving people chances and dating, dating, dating. One piece of important advice I give to allof my friends is that dating is a numbers game. The more people you go out with, the more people you won’t hit it off with, but the greater chance you have to find the person who is rightfor you.
Some common complaints I hear about dating are:
“Online dating doesn’t work for me. I’ve been on two Match dates and they were both nightmares!”Well, maybe that just isn’t the right site for you, but honestly about 1 in 8 dates are going to likely be duds that won’t even turn into a second date. Sometimes you’ll have more bad dates, sometimes you’ll have a few good ones in a row. Giving up after only a few chances, though, isn’t going to be the attitude that helps you to meet someone great.
“I don’t want to tell people we met online. I want our story to be better than just meeting on a dating app!” I don’t get this. At all. Who cares how you meet someone amazing, as long as you do? When Robert and I tell people how we met we start off by saying that we met online, but then we immediately jump into our first date story about how he almost stood me up, then how when we did actually meet that I was more interested in petting a cute dog I found outside the restaurant than greeting him. I love our story so much, and we have so many fun moments to sprinkle into it that “OK Cupid” is only a sentence in the story of how we met.
“There isn’t anyone cute near me. Guys here are lame.” Unless you live in a teeny tiny area, this is an enormous statement for the entirety of the young adult population where you live. First, pictures can be deceiving. I have a few friends who I absolutely know would make great matches, but they’re unwilling to even give someone a chance because of a few Facebook photos. Sometimes attraction can’t be felt over a computer screen, and although I think it’s an incredibly important component of a great romantic relationship, I think giving someone a chance — even just a 1 hour date — could be a game-changer for you. If a friend wants to set you up, give their match a try! After all, there’s a reason you came to mind when they decided to pair you with your date. The very worst-case scenario is that you wasted an hour or two of your entire life on someone you’re never going to see again. Then, if the same friend tries to set you up again you can politely decline if it was really that bad. Having an open mind can be such a great asset to the dating world.
“I don’t want to do the casual dating thing; I want an exclusive relationship!” Okay. 99% of the time that’s not going to work. Unless you turn a friendship into a relationship, odds are you’re not just going to meet Mr. Right on the street and realize that the two of you are perfectfor each other. You have to be casual at some point in your relationship; you aren’t supposed to know right off the bat whether someone is going to be your new significant other. Sometimes people will tell you that they knew right after meeting someone that they were going to marry them, but that’s a rare miracle in the dating world. You typically become more drawn to someone as you get to know more about their heart and values, and it takes time to really get to the nitty gritty of someone’s true personality. I totally know that dating around is exhausting and can be a chore, but you rarely get beautiful things in life without working hard for them.
Today’s Lesson: Your dating motto for 2018 should be, “It’s just a date.” Stop overthinking dating and start taking chances on things that scare you, and open up your mind to the possibilities around you. I strongly believe there is more harm to being close-minded than being too picky with who you choose to spend your dates on. Be careful, and be smart, but open up your dating pool to some people you might not typically go out with. Then, watch how your dating life transforms through the lessons people teach you and as others begin to open their hearts up to you.
Something that makes me really, really happy about being in my mid-twenties is all of the love that I see around me. I’ve been to so many weddings this year alone, and there hasn’t been one I haven’t cried at yet. I think my heart is just so filled with joy that it uses tears as an outlet so I won’t explode.
As you can tell from reading just one page of my writing, I am a hopeless romantic. Honestly, even the people I never really knew well in high school getting hitched makes me giddy, as I just feel so excited for what their future holds.
Love in our twenties doesn’t start and end with weddings and marriage, though. Just because some of my friends are single doesn’t mean I am not equally as happy for the love they have in their lives. I see people who are in love with travel, in love with their job, and in love with sweet puppy dogs. There is love in family reunions, in blossoming relationships, and love for tiny little babies.
We areall in such different stages of life at this time. I predict by the time we’re all in our mid-to-late thirties things will have changed and we’ll all be a little closer to one another again for a short while, however ever since high school has been thrown behind us our lives have all continued to change more and more drastically.
Just because you are on a different page of your story than your friends doesn’t mean your life and experiences aren’t as beautiful or important. Your time will come with a romantic connection, and just because you don’t have your dream job now doesn’t mean there aren’t greater things to look forward to in the future. Keep pushing forward and enjoying the life you were given right now. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it to their twenties. It is hard trying to figure out how to be an adult and adjusting to so many changes, but I think it’s a lot easier when we realize that none of us are truly alone. We all struggle in one way or another, and even if life looks perfect for someone from an outsider’s perspective I promise you they’ve had something that has been a challenge for them. None of us are exempt from pain or suffering, but the great thing about life is that none of us are exempt from love if we welcome it into our life.
Instead of worrying so much about what you don’t have, I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for. On days I am in more pain than usual I make myself create a list of 5 things I am thankful for, and that often creates a snowball effect and I see just how many blessings God has given me.
And now it’s time for my favorite of the five — quality time!
Quality time has always been high on my priority list, but the past couple of years it’s really been bumped to the top. Doing a deployment with someone you love is one of the hardest things I can think of. There are so many reasons I find it difficult, but a big one is that you don’t get to spend very much quality time with them — for like, almost an entire year. This has given me a great appreciation for the time I get to spend with Robert now.
Make sure you are fully present when you are spending quality time with your partner. This means putting your phone away, not running through a checklist in your mind of things you need to do, and temporarily pushing aside any worries or concerns you might have in your life to live in the present with them. When you are using quality time as a love language with someone, the emphasis should be on the word quality. Time is something that you sometimes have to give to things you do and do not care about. You go to the doctors office because you have to make sure you stay healthy, and you give your time to your employers in return for a paycheck. Giving time to a loved one needs to be different. It should be offered as a caring gesture and given because you want to bond and grow closer to someone.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate quality time into your love life:
Run errands together. This is a big one, guys! Errands are an inevitable part of life, and they are something every single person will have to do, likely several times a week. Going on outings to get groceries together or running to the post office as a team are so important for your growth as a couple. You get quality time in the car together and time to chat and bond while you pick out what you want to have for dinner that week. Do not split up when you go shopping just to make things faster; stick together and find each item as a team so that you can experience life together. It may not be as fast that way, but it’s a whole lot more valuable.
Make time for regular date nights. No, ordering takeout and watching football doesn’t count unless that’s something you both genuinely enjoy doing. Go out into the world and try a new restaurant or explore a new town together. Quality time doesn’t usually care where you are, rather it focuses more on enjoying each other’s company fully. Exploring new places is an awesome way to learn new things about each other — no matter how long you’ve been together — and it forces you to keep up with your plans of having a set date night.
Don’t always choose television. I know it’s so easy to get sucked into the tube, especially after a long day at work. TV is a great way to relax, but it isn’t always going to fulfill the quality time aspect of your partner’s life. Make dinner together while singing along to Taylor Swift, or take your dog for a nice, long walk.
On the other hand, having a weekly TV show you tune into together is a great way to bond. That way you have something fun to talk about together and can giggle or scream at the TV when something unexpected happens. I love watching The Bachelor with Robert, and he likes watching football or basketball with me. We started watching Big Brother this season,which has been a really fun topic of conversation for both of us. We’ve loved cheering the same people on, and debating who would be a more exciting winner — Josh or Paul. Now that the season is over we are going to start watching The Office because Robert has never seen it and doesn’t think he likes it… That was a dealbreaker that I suppose I overlooked when we first started dating because of his witty charm and strikingly handsome looks. Now that we’ve been seeing each other for almost two years, I think we have to change this about him. Please leave comments of encouragement and excitement about The Office so that Robert can see that it’s everything you could ever want in a TV show and more.
Quality time seems like it would be a simple love language to master, however if it’s not something that comes naturally to someone it can be difficult to understand how to use this LL properly. If there isn’t a genuine desire for a connection, being in the same room doesn’t really fill the emotional needs of the person who craves QT. If this isn’t a natural desire of your heart, the more you venture outside your box of usual activities, the more you might get excited about spending time with your significant other.
Figure out what your Love Language is today, and perhaps more important, what your partner’s Love Language is. It is absolutely a game changer in a relationship and can make your bond just that much closer.
Acts of service is one of the more difficult Love Languages for me to write about, as it’s the lowest on my list. This is interesting, though, because I speculate that a lot of people who are incredibly close to me have this as one of their top LL’s. Ever since I realized this I’ve tried to be really cognizant about the things other people do for me, as well as amp up my acts of service in their lives, too.
Did you know that sometimes when you speak the wrong love language to someone that they don’t necessarily register it as being something coming from the heart? I learned this when I began to realize that one of my favorite ways to show love — through little gifts and letters — wasn’t necessarily what was making everyone in my life feel loved. After paying closer attention to what others need I have tweaked the way I love, which in turn has changed my heart to receive all 5 love languages a little better. I used to brush off acts of service as things people felt they had to do for me, but now I take note of even the smallest actions people do from their heart.
One act of service Robert thanked me for today was getting up early to take Jax outside and keep him in the living room to let him sleep in. I actually didn’t think Robert would have even really noticed, but it made my heart warm this morning just knowing he would get the rest he’s needed.
Ideas to implement this LL:
Run an errand for your loved one.
Play chauffeur and drive your loved one somewhere they need to be, but can’t get to on their own. Lots of my friends and family do this for me often, as I can’t drive much longer than 10-15 minutes at a time, so I’m very familiar with this act of service.
Do some of the chores your significant other hates so (s)he doesn’t have to. This is difficult because fine motor skills (ie: loading and unloading the dishwasher) can add to the pain in my arms, and so my parents have taken a bigger burden with chores in the house. I’m so thankful and try to help out in other ways, since I’m currently trying to work to get stronger so that I will hopefully be able to serve others with this again one day.
Fill up their car with gas. This is such a tiny act of service, but it’s one I’ve grown to really appreciate. I can’t pump gas with my arm pain, but even before I got sick my dad always tried to fill up the girls’ tanks to keep our cars in tip top running shape.
Cook them a meal. I know I mentioned cooking in the “gift giving” Love Language, but it can also be categorized as an act of service. This is a great way to show someone you care about them and want to spend time with them. Even sending a packed lunch to work is a really sweet gesture.
Don’t complain when someone asks you to do them a favor. I cannot emphasize this enough, as I have had to swallow my pride the past 4 years and learn to ask for help. I already have a really hard time asking for the things I need, but it’s really made it harder when someone tells me how difficult the favor was to do. For the most part everyone has been so incredible about pitching in, though, and I remember so many of the sweet things people have done to help make things a little easier on me. I couldn’t feel more grateful, and I hope to be able to love with some of the acts of service that are hard on me in the future.
Acts of service can be difficult to spot, and easy to take for granted. People who love this way, though, will show it in everyday life. Whether it’s doing home improvement projects, cooking a meal, or simply doing the laundry, acts of service are often the little pieces of love woven into the little pieces of your day. They are often even combined with other Love Languages, such as physical touch through a massage, or gift giving with a homecooked meal. What kind of acts of service do you notice in your life?
The first Love Language I want to touch on is “gift giving” because although it seems incredibly simple and is arguably the “easiest” of the five, anyone with this as a top LL will tell you otherwise. It’s not at all materialistic or about the amount of money you spend. Gift giving as a love language is never about money; it’sall about the time you put into thinking about your partner for picking out something you know they’ll love.
I would definitely argue that nurture plays a large role in developing your Love Language as an adult. Ever since I was teeny tiny my mom has always loved surprising me with little goodies and treats. When I was a kid I would sometimes crawl into bed at night and feel something fuzzy against my feet. I peeled back the covers to find a little stuffed animal with a note attached, telling me that I was special and incredibly loved.
When I reached high school she still loved me this way and often left little cookies and notes scattered in the kitchen for me to find when I got home from cross country practice. I still have some of those cards to this day, and I have a really hard time throwing away letters because they are one of the most special things to me.
Even at 26 I will sometimes come home to find a little tube of lipstick or another fun cruelty-free beauty item on my bed. It makes my day every time, and the notes always give me a smile and my heart joy, too. Just knowing someone is thinking about you when you are away is a really special feeling.
Since I feel well-versed in gift giving, I wanted to come up with a little list to help people who might not be fluent in this love language yet. Just because one of the LL’s isn’t important to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t to your partner! It’s great taking this quiz and knowing your significant other’s results, as it can be hard to use LL’s that feel foreign to you. Working on speaking your partner’s language, though, can be a really rewarding task. I highly recommend reading the 5 Love Languagesbook if you haven’t! It teaches how to love on a whole new level.
Ideas for Guys to implement this LL:
Flowers. This is the answer to so many of life’s relationship problems. If you get in a fight flowers are great to say you’re sorry, but they’re also amazing for anniversaries, birthdays, sick days, and even “just because.” When gift giving was my top love language I used to always say that someone could go outside and pick me a bouquet of dandelion weeds and I would still find the gesture incredibly sweet. As I said before, it’s not the price sticker on the bouquet that we find so charming, rather it’s the sentiment that goes behind the gift that really matters.
Bring her favorite dessert home. This is one of the most underrated things, but I’m going to give my mom props in this post for always bringing me a new dark chocolate bar to try. She keeps my “chocolate drawer” (Yes, this is a thing in my household) stocked with my favorite Trader Joe’s 73% dark chocolate, and often brings home little treats from trips to the grocery store or when she goes to the neighboring town that holds the best gluten-free cupcakes around. The chocolate is great, and it always makes my heart so happy that she thinks of me even when I’m not around.
As a special treat girls love jewelry, but we know it’s expensive. Robert happens to be the best guy I’ve ever known about picking out beautiful jewelry. I’m always wearing something that he gave me, and it makes me smile and think of him when he’s not around. When we first started dating I wondered if this was Robert’s LL, as he always seemed to have a new little present for me. Two favorite stories come to mind with Robert. First, was a journal he bought and gave to me on our fourth date. It was a really beautiful leather journal — the kind I had always dreamed about getting, but could never justify buying for myself. I wrote in it the entire time he was deployed, and I just recently finished the last page. The second was actually a really goofy gift. I told Robert about someone calling me a mean name on my blog when I first started writing it, so he got me a book called, “Insults And Comebacks: Lines for All Occasions,” and told me to flip through it the next time someone got nasty with me. I’ve never actually used it for that purpose, but it made me laugh and cheered me up — and prepared me for the very few nasty comments I got during the Tom Brady YouTube video going around (Listen, I’m sorry I don’t watch football and had no idea I was “interrupting playoff season — I was just trying to do something nice for someone I love!). I still keep this book on my desk as a reminder that I am loved by the people who truly know my heart, and to write about things that scare me, even if I know everyone won’t be a fan. I’m still working on that.
Leave a sweet note on her pillow. This melts any girl’s heart, and whether she goes to sleep before or after you, it’s great to fall asleep with a smile on your face or wake up to a bright “good morning” from a loved one.
Ideas for Girls to implement this LL:
Since I feel very familiar with gift giving as one of my love languages, I’m going to use all personal examples. Please feel free to sound off other ideas in the comments! I am always looking for new ways to love, and would appreciate your tips.
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” There is a reason this is such a popular idiom that is thrown around — because it’s so true! I am going to make a massive generalization and say that 95% of men love to eat. Bringing him his favorite dinner, surprising him with a treat, or packing a Snickers or Almond Joy (Yuck! That’s Robert’s favorite and I always feel funny buying it; I wish we were friends when we were younger, as he would have been the best person to trade candy with after a giant Halloween haul… “Here, I’ll trade you all my Almond Joys for your Peanut M&Ms and Junior Mints!”) in his lunch is a fantastically simple way to show him he’s on your mind. Add a note for extra sweetness!
Guys are so darn hard to shop for — at least the men in my life are — because they seem to buy the things they want. Pay close attention to what might be old or worn. I gave Robert a gift from Tom Brady and the Patriots on his 30th birthday this year (Oh gosh, I need to tell this story soon! I can’t believe I keep forgetting), but it was so darn hard to figure out what I wanted to buy him this year. I treated him to dinner and gave him a present 4 months late because no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find anything that screamed “Robert” to me. I ended up realizing the answer was right in front of me when he pulled out his worn leather wallet to pay for a toll to Boston. In that moment I smiled widely and decided that I needed to get him a nice new leather wallet. Not only would he think of me because he would see it every day, but he deserved to have nice things that were used as often as a wallet. I think this is hilariously enough one of the proudest presents I have purchased, as it took me such a long time to come up with it.
An experience can be a great gift to give a guy who is difficult to shop for. Whether it’s tickets to a football game or concert or an impromptu date night, he’ll be excited that you took the time to come up for a special day just for him. This is a great gift for guys who really value quality time as another love language.
Jerseys, event tickets, and video games are all nice presents, but they can be expensive to do on a really regular basis. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, get creative and make little surprises that he’ll love. Whether you go back to my #1 tip about food and decide to bake his favorite food or put together a nice picture frame for his room, you can always get creative with your presents.
For girls and guys:
Let’s mix 2 love languages and add a pinch of “Words of Affirmation” to gift giving. Cards and letters are incredible everyday gifts, as they hold a little piece of someone’s heart inside. I have an enormous box next to my bed that holds some of the most special letters I’ve received from friends, family, and Robert. I call this box my “happy box,” and will sit on the floor and read a handful when I’m feeling lost, sad, or just want to smile a little before bed. Several of the letters have become worn from use, but they are some of my most prized possessions. Each card couldn’t have cost more than $5, but the words painted on the page are what really hold value for me. This is the perfect example of gift giving not being about the money spent, rather the thought put into the gift that really matters.
Lastly, pay attention to the things your significant other loves. This is the easiest way to choose a gift, whether it’s a food or drink or a gift from their favorite store. People who have gift giving as a primary love language don’t care so much about the item you give to them as they do about the thought you put into the present. Instead of spending a lot of money on something just for the heck of it, feel free to choose several small tokens of love to spread out through the month. Giving to your loved ones won’t just make them happy, but I find that giving the perfect present makes my heart even more joyful than receiving things.
This is my first post about The Five Love Languages cheat sheet. Come back tomorrow for tips on using another LL. 🙂