This summer will mark four years since I met Chris. Four years since he first tried to serenade me with his yoga moves on the dance floor, four years since my first ever trip to Ipswich and four years since I bullied him into calling me his girlfriend.
Which officially makes this my longest ever relationship.
So if I’m failing at paying off my credit card and posting a blog post every day, at least I’m not failing at this, eh?
Over those four years I’ve changed a lot as a person. I’ve gone from being a chaotic, lost, wild Londoner desperately trying to find reassurance from the world, to a mildly content, chilled out grown-up. Eesh.
So I thought I’d share the things that this relationship has taught me.
1. The big conversations are as important as the little conversations. Yes, it’s v v important to have someone who wants to discuss Broachurch theories and the best sides from Domino’s with you, but it’s also important to be upfront about what’s important to you in the long-run.
I didn’t leave it too long before I brought up the biggies like kids and marriage with Chris because it was important for me to know we were on the same wave length, that we both wanted the same things for the future and that we had the some outlook on life.
I find those conversations mildly terrifying, but not knowing where you stand is about as fun as sticking pins in your eyes.
2. Work should be separate from your relationship. When I first started blogging it was hard for me to not make every bleedin’ conversation about… well, blogging. I was a girl obsessed, mostly because every day brought new opportunities and new stresses and I didn’t have colleagues to bounce ideas and thoughts off of. It’s quite a lonely industry despite how it might look.
So Chris became the person I threw everything at. The person I roped in for outfit photos and help with filming, and the person who heard about every blog post I wrote and every email that came into my inbox.
And whilst he’s an absolute gem for not complaining, I’ve noticed how much more stress-free our relationship has become since I’ve hired a photographer and tried to keep work chat down to a strictly ‘highlights and lowlights’ re-cap when he walks through the door. Because turns out there’s way more exciting conversations than how many saves you’ve had on Bloglovin…
3. Time without phones is vital. We’ve been doing phone-free date nights for a year or two now, and whilst we’re better at it some weeks more than others, I’m glad we both understand how important it is to just switch off and fully focus on the other person rather than half-listening whilst mindlessly scrolling through Twitter.
We not only put our phones away now when we’re chilling on the sofa with a box set (YOU DON’T HAVE TO REWIND BECAUSE YOU NEVER MISS ANYTHING – IT’S A JOY!), we’ve also stopped taking our phones with us if we go out for fancy food and wine. And yes, I know I’m a bit smug and annoying right now.
4. It helps to have a similar upbringing. Your upbringing is often the thing that determines a lot of things in your life. Things like your values and your drive and the way you cope in certain situations.
Chris is the first boyfriend I’ve had who’s had the same kind of life as me, and because of that we just get each other. We handle things the same way. We know what we want for ourselves and what we don’t. And it’s made things feel, well, a lot easier.
5. Find someone who enjoys the same downtime as you. My idea of a heavenly Friday night is pyjamas, a big glass of posh red wine (or three if I am feeling wild), the sofa, a blanket, maybe some candles, cheese, carbs, and a box set. And thankfully, that’s Chris’s too.
Sure we have our own things and will see our own friends as well as doing games nights that bring all our fave people together, but I am so, so, so glad Chris doesn’t try and suggest we go out drinking and dancing til 3am because it would make my insides pull a really sad face.
Having someone whose idea of ‘switching off’ is the same as yours makes the world of difference.
6. Everyone has flaws. We all grow up with this same idea of relationships – that they’re easy, that they’re perfect, that one day you’ll grow up and meet someone and everything will be dandy forevermore. But actually, that’s a fucking lie.
It’s humanly impossible to like every single thing a person does. I know that Chris hates the fact I leave piles of things around the house, that I have no ability to keep my finances in check, that I am a teeny tiny bit reckless. But a big part of a healthy relationship is accepting someone despite their, ahem, quirks. Of seeing past them. Of not letting them become the defining traits about that person.
You’re going to bicker, you’re going to argue, because sometimes you’re tired and sometimes you’re hormonal and freaking heck where is the bar of Galaxy you asked for. But so long as you can apologise and move forward, you’re good.
7. It’s good if things feel easy. Despite the fact we lived 70 miles apart, mine and Chris’s relationship felt easy from the get-go. It never felt like I was battling against the world to be with him. It just worked. It was simple.
We both wanted to see each other, and so we did. Obviously you have to compromise and accommodate each others needs, but there’s that and then there’s attempting to climb a 5,000ft mountain covered in ice whilst wearing a Mr Blobby costume…
8. It’s not unconditional love. I actually heard this from a married pal and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s easy to get comfortable in a relationship when months have turned into years, and it’s easy to believe that that person will love you forever, regardless of how you act or treat them.
But a relationship isn’t a form of unconditional love, that person has the ability to leave. They don’t have to stick with you if you make them miserable. Which is why it’s so, so important to treat your partner with respect. To listen to them, to negotiate with them, to understand them, to be nice to them even at the end of a mind-numblingly long day.
So thanks Christopher Coleman, for putting up with me, for loving me, and for not even looking mildly disgruntled when I leave giant piles of recycling at the back door rather than taking it out to the bin. You da best <3