Ariana and I spend almost all of our time together.
But it wasn’t always this way. This 24/7 type of relationship is new to both of us. I’m a full-time college student, and I lived on campus or at home for the first year of our relationship. Our first dates were spaced weeks apart; I drove from San Diego to LA to see her, so my opportunities to take her out were limited.
As distance has been a part of our relationship, so has Ariana’s anxiety. Her anxiety has played a role in our relationship because it’s such a major part of who she is. Dating was so stressful and exhausting that she had a hard time even seeing me every few weeks. However, she overcame these challenges to see me, and I overcame distance to see her.
Although our time together in person was limited, we were constantly in communication. The typical Millenials that we are, we texted and messaged constantly. Later on, when our late night phone calls became habitual, we even slept together still on the phone. Even though we couldn’t be physically together, we were always communicating in some way.
Looking back at the beginning of our relationship, it’s remarkable how many things have stayed the same even though almost everything has changed. Now, we live together, work together, and spend all of our time together easily and happily. We talk with certainty about our plans for a future together. Despite all of this difference, it is easy to see how many things have stayed the same since we first started dating.
Our first summer of dating was the best thing for our relationship.
While it was difficult to have such limited time together, it set important boundaries that made our relationship successful in the long run. We dated at a healthy pace for a few months, and then my parents had to move out of state during the last month before my school started. This forced us to spend a month completely apart, but it made us closer in the long run.
She is the easiest person to be with, but our relationship isn’t perfect.
From the early days of dating, two things about our relationship were clear. The first was that we were pretty much perfect for each other. From the first few dates, I swore up and down that if someone designed a person just for me, she would be the result. We’re two peas in a pod; we like doing the same things, watching the same things, and talking about the same things. This similarity made our relationship smooth sailing from the beginning. We loved our $3 movie dates, finding free museums in our city, and having fast food car picnics in my tiny hatchback. While we had almost everything in common, we also discovered that we were fundamentally different.
Our personalities are far from the same.
Ariana is shy and quiet, but she’s also very genuine. She’s intelligent and creative and untouched by external influence. My personality is very different; I’m outgoing and flexible, a social chameleon. I’m adaptable at best and impressionable at worst. Our combination of similarity and difference made us incredibly complementary. What one lacked the other had, and we still agreed about almost everything. This foundation is what makes our relationship so easy even to this day. However, just because a relationship is easy doesn’t mean there are no problems. This leads me to the second thing we found during those first several months, which was what the biggest problems in our relationship would be.
We don’t fight like most couples.
At least, we don’t fight like we both used to in our past relationships. There’s no yelling or hurtful comments, no manipulating or breaking up. We do get hurt feelings, and act in the same general way as a result. Something happens to hurt us, we marinate on it for days, and then confront the issue by finally talking about it. When we communicate, the problem is resolved almost immediately. Then, we both feel dumb for not talking sooner.
We fight when we don’t communicate.
Communication is our greatest strength as a couple, and we have written about it as one of our keys to a healthy relationship. This being said, not talking is the surest way to a disagreement. We know how fundamental communication is for us because of what happens when we neglect it. We have been through some difficult times individually, and those challenges can cause a fight if we’re not open with one another. This is easily prevented by telling each other what’s bothering us before it escalates into something negative within our relationship. Most of the time, this negativity invades from things in our lives outside of each other. However, there are a few things that have caused problems in our relationship that originate from within.
1. Her anxiety hurts my feelings.
From the beginning, her anxiety was something that gave our relationship boundaries. It kept me from going over the top (which I have a tendency to do) and it kept us from taking big steps too quickly. Our pace was slow and old fashioned. Our first kiss didn’t happen till our fourth date, a month after meeting in person. Looking back, this was the best thing for me at the time. However, in the moment I often perceived her anxiety as rejection.
Months into our relationship, and even to this day, her inability to act like I do can hurt my feelings. I’m open, affectionate, and outgoing. I was the first to say I love you and am typically the first to initiate everything. Usually this dynamic works well for both of us, but there are times when I get insecure.
When I’m insecure I seek validation, which does not come easily from Ariana. Shy and often paralyzed by anxiety, intimacy and affection are not her strong-suits. These periods for me are occasional and are resolved when I express how I feel. But when they do happen, I can spiral into feeling negatively about myself and Ariana’s feelings for me, which can lead to our version of fighting.
2. I forget she has anxiety.
There have also been times where I push her too far without thinking. Because I don’t have anxiety, it’s sometimes difficult for me to put myself in her shoes in every moment. I’ll accidentally trigger her, and she won’t tell me right away. Instead, she’ll do what I do when I get my feelings hurt: sit on it. When we’re upset, we think about it for days (sometimes weeks in my case) before confronting the problem.
Ariana’s triggers come in different forms, but mostly they happen because she feels like I’m putting her in a situation that draws too much attention. PDA was an issue for us for a long time because my impulsiveness and her shyness did not mesh well in public. Especially not when my impulses have to do with physical affection.
I also underestimate her anxiety with me. This is intertwined with how her anxiety hurts my feelings. I forget how triggering intimacy and affection still are for her, and this is part of why we fight. These issues were evident early on in our relationship, and they’re still the only reasons why we ever fight. As time goes on, we both get better at communicating through how anxiety affects us, and these fights have decreased a lot over time.
There’s still never enough time.
Even though we spend every minute we can together, we still can ‘t get enough of each other. We do fight sometimes, but the vast majority of our lives together are joyful. Just like in the beginning, we are still getting to know each other. We laugh about how we used to sleep on the phone and feel grateful that now we sleep in our bed. The longer we’re together, the better we get at navigating these disagreements and hurt feelings. It’s been a long road since we first started dating. While many things have remained the same, a lot of things have gotten even better, and we’re looking forward to more happy things in our future.
Want to know more? Check out our How We Met video on YouTube here.
Don’t forget to check out our last post here.