Deciding to love someone and give them your all is one of the scariest decision we must make at some point in our lives. However, when that time comes we must be prepared and intentional about who we are letting in to our lives, who we are willing to compromise for, who gets that special space we have been reserving all those years.

We can hurl ourselves into the experience of knowing someone, perhaps quite intimately, without understanding how the process works or what exactly we’re feeling in the first place. Enjoying the moment, but never exploring how we interact with others beyond those moments.

We can also ignore our relationships, accepting that they are a necessary component of our lives to some degree, but never investigating to see what role these connections might play in our happiness, our education, our personalities, our growth, our stability.

Intentionality means paying attention: It means doing things on purpose—not passively, not reflexively, not because we have to. Doing something with the intention of getting as much out of it as possible, whatever that happens to mean in context.

But, but, but love happens to us, right?! It’s called “falling in love,” for crissakes. Not “deliberately opting into love.”

Sorry, but no.

As much as I hate to admit it, bringing intentionality into a romantic relationship is pretty fucking important. Otherwise, whatever develops will end up (most likely) being dysfunctional. Especially if you are a hopeless romantic like me.

And that’s not cute.

A romantic relationship should be an intentional journey. One where you are constantly communicating with your partner. Where you are actively learning and listening. Where all parties are engaged (at least, emotionally).

Talk about different moods and what you tend to need in those situations. Talk about what not to do. Encourage the other person that it’s okay to ask you in the moment what you need, as long as you also leave room for the possibility that you won’t be able to answer.

Make sure, when you’re having these conversations, that you stress that these are generalities. That no one person needs the same thing every time a situation comes up. It’s messy. It’s a process. But it’s necessary.

Being intentional with your relationship is like creating a solid foundation. You are equipping both yourself and your partner with the tools to have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship. So that when a storm hits, everything doesn’t simply crumble around you both.

Being intentional with a relationship takes work. And practice. And learning from mistakes. And patience. And work. But it’s necessary if you want to build a strong, resilient partnership.

And, sure. It might not look like Disney’s version of love or romance. But. If you go back and really watch those movies — really pay attention to those relationships — none of them seem all that healthy to me.

What do you think about being intentional with relationships?