It frustrates me so much when I hear music or watch music videos about those “twisted love” relationships. You know the kind, where they fight a lot but still love each other, or they’re abusive but it doesn’t matter because they’re meant for each other. What a load of crap, honestly. That’s not coming from a girl in a perfect relationship either, it’s coming from a girl who was in an on-off five year relationship that she was way too young for. I wish I valued myself the way I do now. I wish I respected myself the way I do now.

In your early to middle teenage years it’s so hard to see your self-worth in a positive way. You don’t find yourself saying, “There’s no way s/he’s going to talk to me like that,” but more of a, “What do I need to do better so I don’t make him/her talk to me like that?” I can’t express enough that my parent’s raised me right. They raised me to be independent, strong-willed, resilient to pressure, kind-hearted, a leader, a young girl who is confident. But it doesn’t matter who you are, anyone can fall victim to a relationship that’s not worthy of their time.

Ladies and gentlemen: let me tell you what I think you deserve in a relationship and should absolutely hold out for, because sometimes you just need to hear that you’re worthy of a good, strong, one of a kind love. Gentlemen are of course included there because it’s far too easy to think that women are the only ones who suffer from this, but the tables go round and round, with both genders as victims and the offender.

There’s something that my parents have always taught me, that didn’t make sense to me until I got older. That was a simple phrase: your relationship should be easy. That is a phrase that has been deemed impossible in our modern world. Now you hear from so many different sources that relationships should be difficult because that’s what makes it true love, if you’re able to work it out. I just wholeheartedly disagree, especially now being in a relationship that’s both healthy and strong.

My first relationship was with someone who was a good kid and now, a fantastic young man. We were great as individuals, but not good together, and I think that’s something that is so often overlooked. It’s possible that two amazing people aren’t amazing for each other. That can be something that’s hard to distinguish by yourself and often, we don’t listen to the outsiders who can see our relationship best. This isn’t just a problem in our youth either. How many people do you know that are engaged or married to someone who isn’t worthy of their love? Who doesn’t act in a way that makes the other person stronger, but puts them down, makes them feel like they’re nothing on their own… I think we all are witnesses to this sort of toxic addiction.

Even though the last 8 months of my first “real” relationship I knew it wasn’t going going to work out, I couldn’t let it go. You hear that you should fight for what you want and who you love. As a lot of young men and women do, I made the mistake of thinking that it meant sacrificing my own happiness for the sake of someone else’s. It’s still difficult to look back on those memories and situations where I was so weak, desperate and vulnerable. I knew who I was and what I deserved, but I couldn’t find a way to take control of my happiness.

Although Nenad and I had all the cards stacked against us since we met, it was always a barrier, never an obstacle. We barely had any issues the first 6 months we were together, and I was scared that when I went home that things would change. I was so nervous we’d be fighting, fall out of love, and that distance would ruin the amazing thing that we had going for us. Of course, judging from the fact we’re still together and I moved to his country, you can infer that wasn’t the case.

Our relationships is both the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever one. It’s the easiest in the sense that it’s so clear we can make anything work for us, so long as both choose to give it our all. I have never been so sure that I want to wake up and spend every moment with someone I love. Almost two and a half years later, it’s never boring, it’s never not worth it, it’s never something that I would want to change. We just flow in a way that makes life so easy.

It’s hardest in the sense that a relationship is constant work, and for us, we aren’t just battling “regular” issues. Our issues are things that are rooted in us because they’re based off of where we’re from, how we were raised, the social truths our societies believe in. Being raised on opposite sides of the world, it’s taken a lot of compromise to be happy and maintain a solid foundation.

Of course you will have issues and that’s natural. If you’re not having issues then you aren’t having discussions, and that’s never good. But the topic of discussion, how long the issues last, how you handle the issues, all of those things matter and decide which category your relationship fits into: difficult or easy.

It can’t be about you, it has to be about you two. It’s never choosing what’s best for you, but what’s best for your relationship. Being a person who is so independent, that’s been my biggest obstacle, seeing my significant other as my team mate and not my competition. It’s a choice to wake up and work hard for bettering yourself and your relationship. When it comes to making those choices, I think about what I deserve, because my significant other deserves the same and that’s what I want to give to him.

You deserve to be loved in a way that far exceeds your expectations. You deserve to feel like your relationship might take work, but it’s worth it because it makes you a better person than who you are when you’re alone. You deserve to feel like a prince/princess and get treated in the way that royals would. You deserve to have far more good days than bad. You deserve to give love to someone who appreciates it and all the little things that you do for them. You deserve to feel motivated, inspired and awed by the love that you two share.

You are a diamond, dear, let no one break you.