6 lessons in a 6-year long-term relationship from Angelo Ignacio, our first male contributor
This year I celebrate six wonderful years with my girlfriend. Leezel and I are now often the longest running couple among our friends, but we continue to learn new things about each other and what it takes to keep building this love fortress that we have invested in over time.
In reflecting about our relationship thus far, I immediately thought of sharing some of the past years’ biggest learnings. In the advent of sites like BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog, I read some pretty corny articles that have attempted to portray the beauty of relationships. While some of it is true, I find most of them so one-sided; they never talk about the hardships that are absolutely imminent. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that love takes work, not dreams. This woman has been worth every bit of it.
In the spirit of a young love still eager to learn, here are six important truths I’ve discovered about playing for the long run. They are very real to me and may take a second or even third read to wrap your head around. I’ve come to understand that these ideals are what have elevated Zel and me in the game of hearts. I hope you’ll take something from what has taken me 6 years to find and accept.
Faithfulness takes faith. I’m talking about God.
In the hardest, darkest and saddest of moments, I’ve learned that there are things that even we, as devoted lovers, cannot help each other through. These are moments when you decide whether or not you allow God to take it from there. As a man, it’s about being humble enough to accept the fact that you can’t do or provide it all. As a partner, it’s understanding when the situation is completely out of her hands to help and not faulting her for it when she can’t.
Your friends and family will never let you slip.
Treat her girls like your own, and let your boys be her bros. My friends know that Leezel is the queen piece that runs the board. She is Renaissance and is held to the highest regard by my most inner circle, including my family. Our friends have all acknowledged our strengths in being together, and they play a big part in our relationship’s success. We are so lucky for the support we have, both in peers and mentors, that keep us accountable and grateful.
Dive into the deep, even if it’s into the unknown.
This is the hardest lesson that I am still learning. It’s the idea that you have to be down to take the riskiest of chances, even if you are the safest of betters. In general I take a conservative approach to everything I do, but I understand that putting myself in a position when I can fail has always moved us forward regardless of the outcome. Don’t let the fear overwhelm you, because over time your partner’s faith in you (see above) will carry you through. I’m about to make some major moves this summer—none of which I feel full comfort in doing. I wouldn’t be able to do it without knowing Zel is right behind me ready to jump together.
Love when things are broken.
Love is never always roses. If you can love when things are right, make sure you can love when things are broken.
Don’t be afraid of the M word.
Oh, did I say the M word? I’m sorry, I meant to say “marriage.” I am no longer scared of it. I am more than aware that it is the #1 FAQ when the topic of our relationship comes up. I’ve grown accustomed to people’s expectations of timelines and roles, but I’ve rejected their attempts to rush things. Talking about marriage is something that used to be hypothetical, awkward and light-years away. If I still felt that way, we would have a problem. But I don’t. Marriage, to me, is not at all hypothetical. It’s something I am looking forward to, something that is approaching with every corner I turn. I welcome that and embrace it. Let’s be real here.
Get your ass back home.
Lastly, the most important, and what I think is what our entire relationship has boiled down to. No matter what you do. No matter where you go. No matter who you’re with. Go home. Get home and be home. Leezel and I work and live to take on life and enjoy it to the fullest—many times together, but often in our own ways. This is because we are both in our mid-twenties and understand that we are both in times of tremendous individual growth. In these years we have traveled separately and worked on entirely independent projects that have involved us being apart and with other people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bachelor party in Las Vegas, a conference in New York City, or just a late night out working on a meeting or out with friends, we both know where home is and who is coming home to whom. The rest is for the universe to take of.
Angelo Ignacio is from Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola Marymount University.