Recently, a coworker asked me how my boyfriend of four years and I have been able to make our relationship work for so long. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have had (and still have) our problems. We have taken our fair share of breaks, we fight like an old married couple, and we go through our ruts. I wasn’t sure how to answer my coworker besides saying, “We just make it work.”
I’ve been thinking about her question for a few days now, and I think I’ve finally reached an answer. To quote Topanga from Boy Meets World: “I do my thing and you do your thing; you are you and I am I; but in the end if we end up together, it’s beautiful.” I think that has always been the philosophy in our relationship. By most standards, for people our age, we don’t have a conventional relationship; we don’t hangout everyday and we don’t spend every waking moment talking to each other (some days we send a few texts in the morning and a few at night and that’s it). I’m confident that the thing that makes my relationship work is that we aren’t dependent on one another. I have my friends, he has his. We are both our own people.
I’ve read a lot of articles on Facebook with titles like “Things Every Girl in Her 20s Should Know.” Most of these articles stress being single for a while and “finding yourself.” I want to say that it is still possible to explore who you are, what you like, and what you want while being in a relationship. During my four-year relationship, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. I’ve discovered who I am as a person, what my values are, what my career goals are, and what makes me happy. The reason you don’t have to be single in order to find yourself is because whomever you are with should bring out the best in you and not hinder you from exploring yourself and your worth.
To sum it up, my answer to my coworker is this: my relationship has worked for so long (and continues to work) because we bring out the best in each other. Through the 40-hour work weeks, the commutes to school, and all the other crap life throws at us, I know at the end of the day he’s always there and that nothing has changed between us. In a way, we live our separate lives, but when we come together, it is beautiful.
Maddie Spero is a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where she received her BA in Industrial Psychology. When she’s not seeking employment as a Human Resources manager, Maddie can be found drinking an iced coffee and taking a copious amount of photos of her dog Russell.