I’m sitting here casually writing this very article, and I see a guy walk past me. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I sometimes get the urge to critique what people are wearing, like they’re on a catwalk. On this occasion, he is wearing black formal shoes (with no socks on), skinny jeans that show a little too much muffin top, and a short-sleeved stripy t-shirt that verges on a crop top, way too high for my liking. I suddenly feel sad.

Firstly, it’s the middle of winter and secondly, what drove this person to put this outfit together? Was it a streak of creativity that simply went wrong or does he desperately need a boyfriend/girlfriend to tell him the honest, sometimes brutal, truth; that he needs to get dressed with a light on tomorrow.

Fortunately, I have a boyfriend to critique my outfit choices. Although 95% of the time I don’t listen and think I look fabulous, which I probably don’t. But this whole experience makes me think about the perks of being in a relationship.

There are the obvious benefits; such as having a nice firm chest to rest your head/legs/full body on, having that special someone whose responsibility it is to tell you that you have bed head when you wake up in the morning, or even that person whose job it is to listen to you whilst you bitch about who pissed you off the most during the course of the day.

But, (and I like big BUT’s, if you excuse the pun), you can’t forget that you must offer these benefits to them too. It isn’t a one-way street and if you think it is then your relationship is likely to be doomed. Take a friend of mine for example; I’m going to call her Mildred*. Mildred was getting all the benefits of being in a relationship with her man, mainly sexual benefits may I add, but she wasn’t interested in the emotional side of the relationship.

Her partner wanted the cuddles, the long, deep conversations and the commitment that comes with a relationship, but Mildred wasn’t in it for that and it all ended with a text and goodbye sex. A pretty-good way to round it off, considering.

I guess my point is that relationships are give and take. You have got to be respectful of your partner’s feelings, if you are ever going to get that respect back. Show interest in their day; you may not be necessarily interested but it just shows him you love him and want to be there to support him.

Me and my boyfriend work at the same organisation, in different departments but close enough so that I can hear him laugh in that adorable way that made me fall in love with him… Sorry, lost track there. Where was I? Ah yes. I was nervous at first about him starting. Would we get sick of seeing each other? Would we have anything to talk about outside of work? Would our relationship come to a crushing and awkward end?

But 7 months later, we are still as strong as ever, we respect each other in the workplace and try to avoid talking about work at home.

To take my analogy from above, if those skinny jeans don’t fit, then you should know. And if not, your boyfriend should feel able to tell you. You and your partner should be able to communicate and talk about how you’re feeling and not be afraid to speak your mind.  The greatest benefit of a relationship (for me) is having that one person who I can reveal all my secrets to – and know that they are safe with him.

* A special thanks to Mildred, I love you and your often-slutty ways.

WORDS: CRAIG BARTON

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