7 Ways I’ve Learned How To Be An Adult In A Relationship

Looking back on life, I can definitely recall a time when I was the definition of a man-child. In relationships, I remember being jealous, resentful, and angry, and I’d be the absolute king of holding grudges. If I ever felt hurt or ignored, I’d bottle that and end up exploding days later at the tiniest things. How dare there be one strand of hair on the shower wall! Definitely the definition of how to be an adult in a relationship.


Communication was MIA, and if there was even the slightest disagreement, I would shut down completely. I’d literally forget how to talk, scared of not knowing how my partner would respond to how I felt. Or if they even cared how I felt.

When it came to work, I’d prioritize my work life over every single relationship. I did this to my complete detriment. Working long hours, and totally neglecting my partner’s needs was my middle name. 

For the longest time, I truly thought my relationships burning up in flames wasn’t my fault. I labeled my exes as crazy, clingy, or depressed only to realize that I pulled an Anakin Skywalker and became all those things I hated the most.

To put it bluntly, I was young, dumb, and emotionally insecure on so many levels. 

Now, sitting here, I’m thinking to myself, what changed? What did I do to finally grow up and be an adult in a relationship? 

Well, lots of trial and error, more error than not, and a ton of self-reflection. Through my soul searching, here’s what I learned over the years to finally grow out of my man-child shell.

Effective Communication

You remember how I mentioned that I completely shut down if I had any disagreements in past relationships? Well, because of that, those disagreements would get cranked up to 11. 

First, the frustration would set in because I wasn’t talking, or if I managed to mutter any words, I was taking years to respond. Literally years.

Second, the frustration of the other person always builds up. Then, boom, a full-blown argument was born. What could’ve been a simple open-ended conversation where two people were effectively communicating their thoughts and opinions, ended up turning sour. Every. Time.

Maybe in all my past relationships, I just never felt secure enough, with myself or my partner at the time, to truly speak how I felt. To be honest, that was probably the biggest reason.

Clearly, that had to change. 

I’d find myself stumbling into podcasts, unknowingly, about relationships. How to communicate, whether that’s in a romantic relationship or not, was always a theme. 

I mean, podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience were teaching me how to communicate for crying out loud. I don’t know if that’s sad, or maybe I just needed another dude saying it’s okay to say how you feel. 

There were all these lightbulb moments that would go off. 

One lightbulb in particular, I remember hearing,

“A conversation is a two-way street. If the other person doesn’t respect what you’re saying, or how you feel, they’re not meant for you anyway.”

That’s what I needed to hear. 

Honest to God, that one quote gave me a boost of confidence to start speaking my mind and say how I truly felt.

This surely didn’t happen overnight, I assure you, but I practiced.

When Kacey and I first started dating, communication was highlighted as one of the most important keys to succeeding in our relationship. 

For us, just being open with each other, actively listening, and being present in conversation helped us skyrocket together.

I can’t tell you how much time we spent talking on her couch in her old apartment. I mean, hours upon hours. Any topic under the sun, you name it, we’ve talked about it.

We discovered quickly that just by talking with each other, and effectively communicating, this was gonna be an entirely different relationship than what we’ve ever had. 

Our concrete foundation was established by simply talking.

Shared Goals

Now, this is a biggie. I’d consider this closely tied to effective communication because if you’re not communicating, you have no clue where your partner wants to be 1, 5, or 10 years from now. 

I sure as shit didn’t get this until much later. 

For the longest time, I was so caught up in my own goals and aspirations, that I never stopped and thought about what my partner wanted.  

My aspirations were to live a very minimalist life and buy a tiny house. Putting my nose to the grindstone to hit financial independence was a huge goal for me. 

My previous relationships were the complete opposite.

Bigger homes, spending money, and having no idea what savings were seemed like a common theme for the people I dated. To be clear, I’m by no means judging here. People want to live life differently, and that’s totally fine. 

However, our goals clearly didn’t align. 

Now, had I known this, you know, I probably wouldn’t have stuck my toes in those waters. Well, knowing younger me, I definitely still would have. I was quite the pushover. Without a doubt, I would’ve thought I could’ve just changed my goals, easy peasy. 

Learning the hard way, as I am so great at doing, I discovered that maybe I should be with someone whose goals are completely in line with mine. Now, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, but boy, I sure wouldn’t have minded if one spelled it out for me.  

I realized that having goals in a relationship has to be thought of in a different light. They need to be shared together. Instead of thinking about my goals, I needed to think about our goals. 

Honestly, in the world of dating, it’s the easiest filter to use when you’re trying to find your soulmate. A heavy word there, but I’m serious. If you make your goals known right off the bat, the other person should, too. 

I did, and I found Kacey. 

Appreciation and Gratitude

Have you ever heard of having an attitude of gratitude? If not, it’s simple. Be grateful for everything. This has been a game changer for my relationship. 

Just saying that I’m grateful for meeting Kacey, I’m grateful for the experiences we’ve had together so far, and I’m grateful that I get to spend the rest of my old and curmudgeonly days with her strikes a completely different chord in me.

I appreciate every single little thing we do. Coffee together in the morning, knees touching when we’re watching a movie, or grabbing each other a soda in the middle of a sweaty gaming session is just a tiny hint of my appreciation for the little things in our relationship. 

The younger me was certainly not wired this way.

Man Child Tyler had to make some huge mental adjustments. Gratitude was not a word that ever left my mouth.

In previous relationships, I’d find myself always using the word, “have”. Now, there might not be anything inherently wrong with the word “have”. But picture me having a conversation with you. 

We’re working together and you ask me, 

“Hey, what are you doing after work?”

I say, “I have to go to the inlaws tonight for dinner”

Now compare that to this response, “I get to go to the inlaws tonight for dinner”

Do you see the shift in tone with just one word? That’s gratitude.

Using the word “have” implies that everything is a drag. At least, that was true for me. Saying I have to do this, I have to do that, especially in a relationship, was corrosive. 

Being aware of this now, changing “have” to “get”, has given me perspective. 

I don’t have to do anything. I get to. If everyone started doing this, I truly think the world would be a much different place…

I want to give a shoutout and give credit where credit is due, to my man, Tony Robbins, for this insight into gratitude. He’s a fiery guy that lives in the self-improvement world. I read a couple of his books, and I was mind-blown at this idea of gratitude.  I’d say this man was pivotal in teaching me how to be an adult in a relationship.

As I mentioned before, it certainly didn’t sink in right away, heavens no.

But I’m sure glad it did.  

Trust and Transparency

Back in my days of navigating the single world,  I used to binge-watch a show called Letterkenny.

If you’re not familiar, Letterkenny is a sitcom about a small town in Ontario, Canada that always opens with “There are 5000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems.” As you can imagine, there are always problems. 

There was a moment in an episode that stuck with me. 

Dary, a cow milkin’ farmhand who’s always dressed in his farm clothes, finds himself with a new girlfriend, Anik, who happens to be an Instagram model. 

Now, once the town finds out about Dary’s girlfriend, as small towns do, everyone drools over her Instagram. 

Trouble in paradise brews, and Dary can’t handle it. 

Jealousy creeps in, so Dary starts becoming hyper-needy. Like asking if she’s ok every 30 seconds kind of needy. He then jumps to the conclusion that Anik is cheating.

Quite the jump if you ask me.

Anik, being the much more mature one, immediately pulls the plug on their relationship. 

Before she leaves Dary’s life, she says this one line, “love is trust.”

Sitcom or not, damn, that one hit home. 

I’ve never forgotten that scene because it’s so true. What is love without trust? How can you be in a relationship if you can’t trust?

I’ve had my fair share of Dary moments in my life. Jealousy and being hyper-needy would plague my relationships. I was insecure with myself, no two ways around that. My insecurities would always get the best of me. 

Because of this, I had to take a look in the mirror and do some diggin’. Well, I had to clean the mirror first because somehow that son of a bitch gets splattered. That just me?

Quite frankly, who wants to be with someone that’s needy? And I mean an unhealthy amount of needy. No one.  

So, I’ve established a motto of sorts. I’ll give 100% of my trust right off the bat, and be as transparent as glass. If my trust is broken, well, there’s no turning back. I’m all in. 

This might sound a bit naive. Which, it very well could be.

But in my opinion, if there’s ever going to be a chance in a relationship, trust and transparency has to be there from day one. There can be no hesitations. As Mark Manson says, “You’re either fuck yes or fuck no. There’s no in-between.”

You’re probably wondering, “Have I had trust broken in the past?” Yep. It sucks. Royally. It feels like a deep betrayal, just like Julius Caesar and Brutus. Except there are no knives involved. Hopefully. But that was one person who “betrayed” me. If I brought that feeling of betrayal into relationships after that, I’d be sabotaging myself. I’d basically be arming myself with a ticking time bomb.

The relationship has no chance.

Now there are some people who just need some time to trust, and that’s ok, too. I totally get that.

For Kacey, she had been through some life-changing experiences, especially in past relationships, so she just needed some time to open up and let some walls down.

I completely understood.

Me, well, I’m an all-in kind of guy, I always have been. I gave her my complete trust right out of the gate.

To me, that’s the only way I can be in a relationship.

All in.


We happen to live in a time of instant gratification, where answers are a click away and decisions are often made in the blink of an eye. This instant culture, unfortunately, has seeped its way into relationships. Look at apps like Tinder, the founder father of the swipe left or swipe right era, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. People throw each other away in the blink of an eye and are off to the next shiny person just because they get bored. Or god forbid there is one minor argument, and the entire relationship is blown to pieces in seconds. 

What a romantic time we live in. 

That has never sat well with me. 

I’d say the art of patience has dwindled to a dangerous low in relationships today.

I mentioned above that Kacey needed some time to open up to me, to truly trust me 100%, because of experiences in previous relationships. 

Having patience, I understood that we needed to move at her pace instead of my “pedal to the medal” mindset. Doing so has enabled us to move forward in our relationship together, instead of me leaving her high and dry and questioning why we’re not on the same page.

What if I just said, “Nahhh, this is just taking too long. Bye!”

I mean, if I had no patience, I would’ve completely missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with my soulmate.

But because I was patient, because I gave her time to know me and how I saw our future together, she opened up. 

I can say with confidence that having patience in relationships did not always come naturally to me. 

In fact, there were times when I thought every argument, every unanswered text, and every slight that went against me, unintentional or not, were born out of malicious intent. I jumped to conclusions, much like Dary did. 

My gut reactions of acting on my emotions in the heat of the moment usually caused even more turmoil. 

Instead, if I took a few deep breaths, and calmly asked some rational open-ended questions, the outcome would’ve been much different. Doing so may have just chalked the argument up to a simple misunderstanding. 

Now, because I practice patience daily, I can wholeheartedly say I’ve achieved the patience of a monk, in regard to relationships that is. I have enough patience that I can stand and watch paint dry. That may not be exactly relevant, but you catch my drift. 

In regards to technology, holy hell, that’s another story.  

But I digress. 


I asked ChatGPT to elaborate on perspective in regard to relationships. As an AI bot, I was curious what it would say. 

The result, “When in doubt, zoom out.”

Huh, now that’s something I totally jive with.

I mean, that’s all perspective is. Taking a view of anything outside of yourself, and looking at the problem through someone else’s eyes. Putting yourself in their shoes, rather. 

I’d say, even from a young age, I understood perspective in this light. 

By nature, I am one of the most empathetic people I know, and I say that fully knowing that I am empathetic to a fault. 

People’s problems become my problems, and I feel in my soul how they’re feeling. If they’re happy, I’m happy with them. If they’re crying, boy, I’m shedding tears with them. That’s how it has always been. 

Don’t even get me started with cringy moments in life. If you’re familiar with The Office, pretty much everything Michael Scott does is painful for me. His cringe moments actually make me sick.  

Now, empathy doesn’t sound like a bad quality to have, but with emotions like anger, my entire day can spiral out of control. Simply because of one person being angry. 

Now being empathetic in relationships is one thing. I’ve nailed that.

Having a true perspective, however, is another. 

I say this in regard to the strategic balance of picking your relationship battles. What hill is worth dying on?

Well, it turns out that there are very few.

I say this from experience now, but younger Tyler wanted to win every battle, and ultimately win the war. 

I’d never concede my position because my ego was so fragile. Even if I was totally wrong. I wanted to win. But at what cost? It doesn’t feel too great to be a winner of a little argument and be all alone. I’ve been there. Trust me. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are of course situations where you should decide to die on your hill even at the detriment of your relationship. Perhaps one of your core values is being pushed, and you won’t compromise your values. To me, that’s worth it. That’s admirable. 

But the many battles that you’re going to fight over the course of your relationship that are worth winning? I can probably count them on one hand. Obviously, that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying.   

Problem Solving

Raise your hand high if you’ve ever tried putting IKEA furniture together with your partner and wanted to strangle them with both hands. Keep your hands raised high for the class to see.

Ah, the majority. Good to know. 

To be frank, I had never been in a relationship where I could work well together with my partner. Ever. Believe me, I tried. Even something as simple as a metal garage shelf brought out the worst in me. Arguing about the proper order of assembly, or the classic case of no communication, just expecting my partner to know what I was thinking, happened every single time. 

Why can’t we read minds already?!

Who was to blame for the failed attempt at building would happen immediately, with no one taking responsibility. You know, like a bunch of five-year-olds, the finger-pointing shortly followed suit. 

Ideally, if all teamwork breaks down, people normally take a step back, maybe go to different rooms, and cool off. Take a breather, and let the eyes go from a shade of red to their natural tone. 

Nope, not me. 

I needed to win. I needed to be right. 

Or I’d just shoo away my partner and do the project alone, like the typical man, swearing out loud and banging tools like they were my instruments of war. 

The project might get done, sure. But as I mentioned earlier, at what cost?

If you couldn’t tell, I may have had a minor anger problem. Believe me, it took me years to learn how to take a second to breathe and not react to my emotions. 

I’m sure I was a big contributor to the lack of teamwork that I experienced.   

Now, enter Kacey.

After previous failed attempts at finding problem-solving compatibility, we both craved a relationship where we could find our lifelong teammate. As we now say, we wanted to be an absolute power couple.

As sick as this sounds, we actually made a date out of putting together a cat tree to test if we could do the simplest activity with each other. That’s how hardcore we were. 

Spoiler alert, it went swimmingly.

I didn’t swear, there was no banging of any tools, and the entire process went without a hitch. I’m sure by not swearing and banging tools like war instruments helped tremendously, but that’s beside the point. 

I do want to emphasize that all these ways I started as a man-child and learned how to be an adult in a relationship definitely took time. I mean years of practicing. But they all came to fruition from looking at myself and realizing that I needed to work on the guy in front of the mirror instead of blaming someone else. Now, that may be hard to do, or maybe even borderline impossible, but once you start the process of self-examination, your relationships will just become healthier, and last for a lifetime. 

I know mine did, and I want that for you, too.

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