Well, first port of call – are you happy?
If yes, then the rest of this article will be an easy read. Spoiler alert: I'm going to tell you to ignore the haters. If they don't understand your relationship or you, then that is their problem.
As long as you feel comfortable and content and satisfied, that's all that matters.
Stop caring, start thriving
There are so many self-care or self-help books out there that operate under the guise of improving us. Of elevating our identity and crystallising into something more ideologically secure, consistent, and productive. There are so many means of approaching ways to improve our emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical fitness, and overall social prospects. It can get super overwhelming. You aren't alone in thinking that. Particularly when entering the office of your guidance counsellor in high school when the walls were pasted top to bottom with naff inspirational posters and placards. 'It's not about the destination. It's about the journey'. Or 'things that are hard are worth fighting for'. The old faithful: 'Life isn't a competition'.
Honestly, I'm sure all of these epithets are true, but that's not to say that there isn't more informative, helpful advice out there. Like, there's a reason the clichés exist – because they're solid – but I can do better.
So I ask you, my implied audience, a question. What's gold dust?
The art of not caring
I know it can be hard and may sound harsh and alien to 'not care', but it's not suddenly like you will overnight cease to have a functioning heart. Or that you will be unable to love again – that's unrealistic and sensationalist.
The art of not caring, I'll say it again, doesn't mean that the net output of emotion that you put into the world decreases. It just means that all the emotional distress and stress you cause yourself thinking about what everyone else is thinking about – you can just channel that into self-love. Convert that toxic, spiralling energy into a more wholesome, respectful, and forgiving dynamic.
Allow yourself to make mistakes, then look them in the eye and learn from them
A mistake is only ever useless to us if we ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. That leads to bottling up emotions that are liable to explode at the most inconvenient of moments. We don't love a breakdown, even if they generally do follow a breakthrough of sorts.
Honestly, you should feel no obligation to sacrifice your happiness for their security. For their approval.
It was like the movies when you fell in love. All the songs suddenly make sense. You no longer feel the need to compulsively rewatch Gilmore Girls episodes to fill the gaping chasm in your heart. It's Springtime. Life is good, and you are in love.
It's not that life would be bad if you weren't in love, but let's face it, for those of us that seek emotional validation and support from others, it's the bee's knees. It's great to be able to give yourself to another person and be vulnerable, and of course we still get that from friends and family, but there is something different. It changes how you perceive the world around you and impacts upon what you value.
Everything is relative, but that's even more true when you're in love
When you are committed to another person you care about their welfare above, well, most things.
As long as you don't cruelly abandon your friends in favour of your new significant other (seriously don't, it's the worst), it's generally a good thing to have new priorities and a refreshed outlook on life.
It shows you what's important to you – all the old insecurities, well, they haven't gone away, but you have a support system now. Things that used to consume you (probably because you had too much downtime) are less of a concern now. You don't stress too much about how many runs you go on in a week because you go on a walk every evening after work with your boyfriend. It's easier to eat well and healthier because you cook together and it's about enjoying it rather than stressing about what you 'should' be doing. In short, you aren't going through life alone, so the small things can be shrugged off.
People around you are less of a threat
This is simple maths, really. When you are happy and content in yourself and your relationships, it's easier to shrug off things like peer pressure and unconscious competition. You're less likely to critically compare yourself to other people when you have a full life.
You begin to view life through your partner's eyes. This doesn't mean that you merge into your partner and subsume their interests in place of yours (I hate it when my friends basically turn into their boyfriends whenever they get into a new relationship). No, what I mean is that you look at life aware of both your own perceptions but also with consideration to the implication on your partner.
Essentially, if you see a hilarious Facebook post about three adorable dogs that were rescued off the streets, rather than smiling and moving on, you instead think, "Hey, (X) would love that". Then, you tag them in the meme and ensure that your whole roster of Facebook friends can bear witness to your online PDA. Your ePDA, if you will. Or indeed, you may be out shopping, minding your own business, when you see a sloth tote bag that you know your girlfriend will absolutely die when she sees.
Therefore you buy it and get ready to blow her mind later on. It's the big and the little things but both are now reframed in the LoveLens.
The world exists in relation to your lover.
Melodramatic, yes, but not incorrect.