I consider myself the type of person to give 110% in any relationship, even if it’s failing. The thing is, I don’t give up on people. That’s just not me. But unbelievably (and you can ask anyone I dated up until my junior year of high school to confirm) past boyfriends have told me that they didn’t think I cared about them.
Now I’ve always considered myself a caring person, so this completely took me by surprise. Then surprise became a reality check a few years down the road.
I learned how to love.
I’m not saying this is going to be the answer to all your life problems. It won’t teach you what love is to you or how you feel when you’re truly in love with someone, but it will show you how to constantly show affection in a relationship. So how did I learn to love? Simple. My wiener dog, Lulu. Weird, I know, but stay with me here.
Who loves you unconditionally no matter what you do? Your dog. So, I started to channel that affection.
The first thing I noticed was how excited she was to see me every time I came home, even though it was something that happened daily. Instead of being mad at me for leaving her in the first place, she took advantage of the time we had together and covered me with licks. That made me feel happy, loved, and more reluctant to leave her each day.
She also taught me compromise. I’m sure she has other dog things that she’d rather be doing than watching Gossip Girl on my lap, but I would also rather be doing something other than letting her inside- only to let her go back outside minutes later. In a relationship, you aren’t the only person involved and sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do- but you do them anyways because you love that person.
Though I cannot claim to always be the most patient or understanding person, my dog is. My mom commented on how Lulu doesn’t do this with anyone else, but when I bathe her, she lifts her paws at all the right times and doesn’t bark when I’m taking longer than my mom would’ve and she’s shivering. She knew I was learning and because she loves me, she was patient and understood.
I try to implement her relentless enthusiasm in my own relationships in order to make that person feel cared for and loved.
Among the many life lessons my dog has taught me, my relationships showed me my flaws. Even though I thought I was showing plenty of affection, my (ex) boyfriend did not. And that's the thing about people. We communicate how we feel in different ways and it's up to you to make sure you're communicating in a way that's desired by your significant other.
Because reciprocity isn't always equal, open and honest communication is the only true secret to relationship satisfaction.