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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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What I have learned from being in a long-term relationship

When I first met my girlfriend five years ago in high school, I was rocking the 2009 Justin Bieber hairstyle. I wore snapbacks, dressed in clothes that probably did not fit me and put on high-top Jordan shoes every day.

I still do not know what she saw in me, but I am grateful she saw something. 

In no way did I ever expect to fall in love with my girlfriend when we first started dating. I surely did not anticipate making future plans to start a family, but everything worked out perfectly and I would not trade the relationship we have for the world. 

People have this general misconception about what relationships are supposed to be and how they are supposed to work.

They believe couples are supposed to be together every day, be happy all the time, constantly post each other on social media and agree on everything. 

But that is ridiculous and simply unrealistic, which is why everybody gives up so easily.

Then, they are stuck wondering, ‘What if?’ because they were not patient enough to endure the arguments, work through the difficult times or compromise on differences.

My girlfriend and I grew through our own experiences, which is why our relationship is so special. We find new ways to spark interest in each other. It seems like both of us are dating completely new people from when we first began our journey together because we are completely different.

Most importantly, we communicate and settle our differences by compromising and striving to understand each other’s perspectives. 

Many people believe my girlfriend and I also made plans to go to the same college, but we were just fortunate enough to find affordable schooling, separate majors that captured our interest and a new place we love to call home.  

I have learned so much from my girlfriend over the course of five years. She is the most selfless, loving, caring, supportive individual I know, which is why I have decided to keep her for so long.

She is so enjoyable to be around due to her endless optimism and positivity, and I believe the world would be such a better and happier place with more people like her in it.  

We finally get to share an apartment together in August and I do not know how much longer I can wait to expand our adventure through life together. 

This summer, I am conducting research in Singapore. Last winter, I studied abroad in London. In May 2018, I graduated with high honors and was awarded the Outstanding Senior Award for my department. All of these are incredible accomplishments and opportunities. 

But nothing will compare to when I asked Haley to be my girlfriend. 

The average individual does not meet their soulmate until they are 25 years old, but I am beyond thankful I met mine when I was 18 years old.

Thank you for the smiles, laughs and making me watch the “High School Musical” movies 400 times these past five years. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful girlfriend, Haley Davis.  

Erik Tingue is a contributing writer and can be reached at



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