Falling In Love

Lessons Learnt From A Five Year Relationship

Love, love, love. Love is all you need. A statement I stand by, from a little girl dreaming of meeting her Prince Charming, just like in the Disney movies to the current day, where I'm awash with love, with a permanent pair of rose tinted glasses, seeing the world as a beautiful place. We all fall in love at some point in our lives with something, a person, a hobby, a place, or a delicious plate of food. I wanted to discuss something extremely close to my heart, as I'm rapidly approaching five glorious years of being with my life partner, with the wild and wonderful adventures we've taken. As well as the life lessons I've learnt from falling in love. This ones for the big troublemaker, Paddy. Here's looking at you kid. 

Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness

I've had my fair share of crap in my life, from terrible people, awful experiences. But with a glass half full mentality I've had a brilliant life, and it was soon realised this would be the case the second that I met him. With all round positive personality, a lust for life, and particularly the mysterious and unknown I felt like my life radically changed in ways I don't think a blog post could quite concur. Falling in love was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was better than the feeling of graduating with a first class degree in Graphic Design and Photography, better than finding my dream job, and building an self satisfying empire, and certainly better than exploring the world through said job. Love put me in a position where every moment became easy, organic and no longer lonely. I love my own company but two is better than one, especially when they're as fantastic as my other half. I listen to all the love songs both the bad and the good. As John Cusack said in High Fidelity "What came first, the music or the misery?" and I take from that, is that you shouldn't regret all the shit moments you've had in previous encounters of relationships, because it makes you realise how much better your current one is. If you're not in a relationship, fear not as Mr/Miss right will be round the corner which brings me to an important first  point about love....

Let Love Sweep You Away When You Least Expect It

My philosophy was always that of Mr right will walk into my life when he wants to knock on my door. Which was bleeding well true to the heavens and back. Give up trying, stop attempting to overly impress, because love is organic, and finds its way to you when you're simply yourself, nothing more and nothing less. Just you.
I always tell the magical tale of how I met Paddy, well...technically the two stories that formed the way in which we met. From a coincidental last minute invitation to a house warming party over the road from our current house, to finding out a few months before hand he accidentally booted me in the face whilst he crowdsurfed to Kasabian at Leeds Festival 2012, and thus gave me a black eye - all by accident of course! I was at a time in my life where I flied solo through everything, I became a lone wolf, and put the blinkers on to my education, artistic mind expansion and generally life was a bit grim so I needed to channel my energy into something distracting, with no intentions of a relationship, in fact the thought didn't even cross my mind as a priority, because I'm the kind of person who would have waited decades for the right person. However the clouds of the world opened up when we decided to meet up and eventually start dating. I still give myself a daily pat on the back for agreeing to meet up, that yes text I sent would be the beginning of a new chapter, a very happy Stephi indeed!

So lets fast forward to the present day as I look around our house of memories, photographs and ponder upon what these past five years have meant to me. 

Trust Is Key To Long Lasting Relationships 

Our house is a perfect symbol of trust, looking around at all the collective decisions we made on the paint for the walls, the music posters we hung together, and the way we function as people. It takes a lot of trust, which is something that is so very crucial in a relationship. Compromisation is another lingering factor that keeps couples together, but first and foremost is giving yourself to another person, knowing that they're not threatening, detrimental or psychotic. Trust is knowing that they'll always be there for when you have a low patch, knowing that they'll be there first in the morning with a kiss on the forehead, and to the last few mutters of pillow talk at night time. Trust is the hand that guides you into new experiences and adventures, it's the leap of faith we all do hoping that somebody will catch us. Trust is developed through open communication about commitement, setting boundaries of what you and don't like and finally being loyal to that person. It's the foundation on which the rest of your relationship goes, which quite frankly I picked up very quickly being an incredibly loyal, almost to the point of being clingy. But better to love them too much than too little... right?

Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness

Never Change Who You Are

I fell in love with Paddy because of his hilarious personality, dashing good looks, his exquisite taste in the music, and his ability to make anyone smile. Overall he's a dreamboat, and I often tell myself how the hell did I land someone so goddamn good? I'd never want him to change a damn thing about him, because he is in my eyes, the most ideal person in the world, and it makes me the happiest person on earth to say that he's the other half that makes a whole. Likewise, I'd like to think for the same reasons he's with me, and I refuse to change who I am as being me is all I can give, and what made him want to be with me. Never pretend to be anything more than what you are, don't cover the cute freckles that are so randomly placed or change your interests just to build half-arsed conversations. If you like deep conversations about aliens, space, and fine intricacies of life then you carry on doing that! Although relationships do certainly change you as a person, sometimes a sentence that was previously an "I" becomes a "we" with shared interests. You certainly put on a couple of pounds when you start to experiment with tasty foods, and all the date nights you spend in the cinema, and restaurants cherishing those shared moments. Both of us can easily say we put on weight, but then again one of our favourite pastimes is indulging in niche foods. I found that I blossomed as a person the day I met him, and gradually progressed to becoming more confident, healthier and happier. I gained a few new interests, developed a much more prominent opinion, and learnt to open up which was previously a notorious trait of mine to accepting people, I was incredibly shy and didn't feel comfortable in the skin I was in. This radically all changed as I soon became a more confident, well spoken, opinionated, body proud woman, and I put it all down to him and his daily encouragement. So the bottom line is, never change.  However remaining the best version of yourself is the reason why people fall in love, it's the small things that make the other person happy - it certainly does for me.

Appreciation Goes A Long Way

If someone has ever done you a really nice favour, whether thats finding the end of a difficult roll of sellotape whilst wrapping a present, or opened a door for you then you probably know where this is going. To appreciate the little things that make you oh-so-ridiculous-scream-from-the-rooftops-kind-of happy is what sustains a strong burning flame of love. Never let the mindfulness of another slip. This quote from Richo summarises why mindful appreciation is key. “In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, non-intrusively, the way we are present with things in nature. We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only appreciation" Spend a little time every day telling them how much you appreciate them, whether that's a random email in work or cuddling them from behind when they least expect it. It's the constant trickle of affection and appreciation that keeps your other half in a great state of mind.
I often find myself not only telling Paddy how much he's appreciated, but also I sing his praises to everyone else - it's not bragging, it's simply appreciating. Set the standard for the people out there that could do with some life lessons and relationship advice, because he is frankly the template on which every man should be like in a relationship. 

Talk Through Everything 

Communication is another factor that binds a long lasting love. I previously was always hesitant when bringing subjects up, it was the fear of saying the wrong thing and messing up a lovely moment. I quickly learnt that I have exactly the same rights as him, and that if something needs discussing, it needs to be brought up - the most common topic of choice is what we decide to eat (of course!). Not only will you get to vocalise your thoughts, but also gain outside perspective to conclude a compromise. Keep talking, never forget to reply to their text or missed call and you'll always have a happy smile to come home to. Communication is the foundation on which a relationship stands, if you can't talk about something it's a problem. You're on a journey together, and sometimes they'll appreciate your input and dedication to the relationship. 

Your Age Shouldn't Factor Into Your Relationship

What is meant by this, is that no matter how old you are, always remember all the fantastic qualities that made you fall in love with that person, or future person.  You might have met young,like me and Paddy did, but we never ever forget to stay young, wild and free from time to time. We talk in squeaks, and have all the quirky things that anyone else would call mad if another person outside the relationship saw you behave this way, or maybe you're like us and don't give a toss what the world thinks, because it's what we do, and that's what makes us chuckle. We'll be that couple that go flying into supermarkets on our trolleys with our feet floating at age 90. Frankly I wouldn't want things any other way, our childlike qualities is what keeps us feeling young, and always will do. Which will be fun one day with children as everyone wants parents who are fun to be around. Occasionally it's nice to go back to that childlike state, and have a pillow fight, followed by a cuddle. 

Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness

Your Family Gets Bigger

Before you know it, you're buying double the Christmas presents, and spending all your money on his family - I'd never complain because I love his family to the ends of the earth, and I also have a yearn to buy people presents so I guess it's a win-win. There's no better present than the smile on the faces of the people you love. Naturally feel like an outside intruder at first, because they're no doubt weighing up if you're good enough for their boy. It took me 2 minutes to get on with his Dad, then his whole family. Likewise with mine, they took to him instantly, just purely through being himself. It's often his idea that we jump in the car and impulsively zoom off to see them. It also seemed bewildering that his family weren't my family at one point - same goes for Paddy, where was he all my life, and how did I function without cuddles from him to send me to sleep? On that thought, you should always make time for their family as much as yours, and if possible bring both families together, they'll no doubt have a lot more in common than what you thought e.g.: a child. 


Everyone has positive and negative points, things we need to workshop, and the best way of tackling fears, trying new things and blooming as a person is via a relationship. Paddy helped me conquer a list of phobias, fears through pep talks, dedicated attention to the problem at hand, and why it was of concern. He made me question these fears with a rational mind, and threw me in the deep end with a new head on my shoulders. I introduced him to a variant of new things to try, do and give him a little ruffle on the head when he gives it a try. At least he'll know what he does and doesn't like.  Spice is truly the variety of life, and knowing you've done something daunting with them holding your hand along the way is the most satisfying hurdle to jump. If it doesn't work, have a laugh, and don't take yourself serious. I still haven't learnt how to ride a bike after all his persistence but we made a good giggle of it afterwards. Which comes to my next point...

Find Someone Who Really Makes You Laugh

Laughing is free, and best served for two. I love laughing my head off that I simply can't stop, my cheeks and ribs hurt, with tears rolling down my face. Life isn't serious, and a giggle a day keeps a healthy happy relationship (and the doctor away!) Laughing is proved to be one of the best exercises to encourage endorphins, so the odd comedy movie, cat video or getting spaghetti bolognese all over your face doesn't harm. It also strengthens a relationship to such an extend you'll be prepared to make yourself look like an idiot just to see that beaming smile on their face. Having someone who really gets you going will provide endless fun.

Make The Most Of Every Day

If you're spending all day every day on your phones, unless its a shared experience then try something new. Engagement will keep any relationship in tact through making memories together. Sometimes you may like your own space to do things that only you like to do, but taking interest in what they like too doesn't harm either. I lost touch with my gaming self many years ago, but find so much joy in watching Paddy drive like a maniac as he's on his bluetooth head piece to a group of friends. I call it second hand happiness, the goodness you feel when someone else is in their element. Maybe try the same with yourself, be bold and confident and announce the next decision and hopefully they'll take interest too, sharing is caring and caring is totally a thumbs up. It's amazing how many more things you'll have to talk about if you let yourself go and get involved in what they do. 

Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness
Stephi LaReine boyfriend Patrick McGuinness

A final word. All relationships are different, but at least there's some common factors everyone shares, learn to love and be loved in return is single handedly the greatest thing that will ever happen to you. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet knowing I have Paddy, he is that knight in shining armour that swept me into a world where everything is beautiful and nothing else mattered. We've grown into two fantastic people who share all of our crazy adventures together and can make each moment as special as the last. No one could ever match him, the yin to my yang, the fire to my water. Wake up in the morning, to look at someone knowing that your whole life is right in front of your eyes. Paddy how wonderful life is now you're in the world. 

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Dr. Seuss