The best way to learn is through trial and error.
Especially when it comes to love. The more experience you have – the good and the bad – the more likely you are to enjoy love for all that comes as part of the package.
I believe that love is a beautiful thing that can’t ever harm you. What does cause pain is all the stuff that results from misunderstanding love – stuff you can only recognize as you grow older and wiser.
Here are the 9 things every woman should know about love by age 30.
1) Loving someone shouldn’t mean losing yourself
Remember when you were sixteen and in love?
The world took on a different color, and all the things that had seemed oh so important – like school or your favorite boyband – suddenly didn’t matter.
One person became your Sun, and you were happy to orbit around them for all of eternity.
Even if it meant losing yourself.
Once you turn 30, you’ve had enough experience to figure things out. You’ve been burnt and you’ve recovered. Romantic partners have come and gone.
And through it all, you’ve learned one fundamental truth about love – it shouldn’t come at the cost of losing your identity.
On the contrary, love is meant to help you flourish. A romantic partner is an addition to an amazing life you’ve already built, and their job is to support your goals and passions as you grow each day.
Love brings out the best in who you are. It doesn’t crush you to the ground. It doesn’t diminish your light.
It’s there to help you shine.
2) It’s better to be alone than in bad company
If love comes with lots of baggage attached – we’re talking jealousy, pettiness, bitterness, competition, and all the other great stuff that makes for a dysfunctional relationship – it’s better to travel light.
By 30, you ought to know how to spend time alone and thrive. You might read lots of books, go on solitary hikes, work out, or become a lifelong learner – whatever it is, you know how to fill your time.
You’ve built a stable enough base to have fun in your own company, you have some incredible friends, and you feel like you’re complete on your own.
Once a romantic partner comes along, you inherently understand that they should make your life better or equally amazing.
If they’re only bringing you down, what purpose does the relationship even serve? You know your value by now, and you won’t spend energy on people who don’t deserve it.
3) Love is everywhere
A big reason why you won’t settle down for less than you deserve is that you’re well aware of how fulfilling all your non-romantic relationships are.
Why should you spend time crying over a man when you can go on a girls’ holiday and have a blast?
Your family and friends have been by your side through it all – each time you fell in love, each time you suffered through a breakup, and each time you put yourself back together.
Their love isn’t romantic, but it’s valid all the same. And it’s worth cherishing just as much.
4) How they’re treating you now is how they’ll treat you forever
People rarely change. You can’t fix something that doesn’t want to be fixed. You know that now.
It’s time to stop the hoping, the trying, the begging. It’s time to acknowledge that if someone isn’t putting the effort into your relationship no matter how much you ask them to, chances are… they’ll stay this way forever.
They think they can get away with it. They think you won’t leave.
Not on my watch.
If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t work, take a step back. Look at how your significant other treats you. And ask yourself, “Will I be happy if this is how they treat me for the rest of my life?”
If your answer is “no”… maybe it’s time to pour all your effort and love back into your own cup.
5) Past relationships don’t dictate your current one
You got hurt. You healed. And now it’s time to start afresh.
The problem is, the same issues you had in your past relationships tend to bubble up once a new one begins.
I used to date someone who never paid any attention to me – most of the time, it felt like I was begging for scraps of his attention, hungry for any kind of love he could give me.
Understandably, I felt extremely unappreciated.
It took me years to heal from the breakup. Once I started dating again, I thought I’d healed all my wounds – only to realize they’d only hidden in the course of time, ready to resurface once I was in love again.
Each time my new partner did something that seemed even remotely unappreciative, it set me off. I started fights, thought about breaking up, and spiraled into anxiety-propelled imaginary scenarios.
But then I worked on myself. I grew. And now I know that while your past relationships might cause some mental obstacles in your current one, they don’t dictate how successful it’ll be.
Your approach does. Will you work on those fears and grudges? Or will you let them get in the way of a healthy and happy relationship?
Your current partner isn’t responsible for the mistakes of your exes. To quote Taylor Swift:
“And maybe it’s the past that’s talkin’ / Screamin’ from the crypt / Tellin’ me to punish you for things you never did / So I justified it.”
Don’t justify it. Work on yourself instead.
6) Calm love is still love
The honeymoon stage is awesome.
But it does have an expiry date, and that’s completely okay.
Once all your hormones have settled down, all the infatuation slowly turns into a companionate and calm kind of love. In many ways, it’s even better than the crazy euphoria of the months before.
Companionship is safety. It’s home. It’s a steady humming in the background of your life, promising to support you at each and every step.
You won’t always want to jump on each other three times a day, but you’ll always love one another with all you have.
And the decision to stay by someone’s side through thick and thin…that’s true love.
7) Love is in the details
There’s this Medium article by Michael Thompson that always sends shivers down my spine.
Michael writes about the power of the small things within a relationship, such as getting your partner a glass of water without their having to ask you.
Acknowledge and cherish the small daily occurrences that send a momentary smile to your lips. Because this is where pure love resides.
Love isn’t in the grand gestures. It’s not in an expensive bouquet of flowers or a trip to the Caribbean.
It’s in washing the dishes when your partner’s too tired, getting them their favorite snack from the supermarket, or giving them a hug out of nowhere.
Love is in the details.
8) Perfection doesn’t exist
I used to have a long checklist of all the things my future husband had to be.
Then I met him and realized that he was perfect for me even if he didn’t meet all my criteria.
Your partner will inevitably disappoint you at one point or another. They will make mistakes. They will miscommunicate. They will screw up.
But so will you.
Love isn’t a they-lived-happily-ever-after fairytale. It’s recovering from mishaps, it’s talking about the hard things, it’s forgiving each other time after time.
It’s loving someone in all their imperfect glory.
9) Love yourself first
Yes, you’ll make sacrifices. Yes, you’ll compromise. Yes, not everything will always go as you want it to.
But by age 30, you should know where your limits lie. You ought to recognize when someone’s constantly pushing your boundaries, disregarding your needs, or bringing more negatives than positives into your life.
And you should love yourself enough to let them go.
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this article, it’s that you are worth so much more than the affection of someone else.
People come and go. You stay. Give yourself all the love you need. And watch yourself flourish.