We hear so often about couples who met and everything was perfect: They both lived in the same city, they were both single, they were both in a great place emotionally, and bam! They fell in love. While that's super lovely and great, I figured there had to be some real-life stories out there of couples who had rocky beginnings but ultimately happy endings. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with six such couples to give us all hope for love that doesn't start out perfectly.
1. "I have been in a relationship for over seven years, with four of those years being long-distance. My boyfriend and I are high school sweethearts and dated for about a year before he moved to Texas to play semi-professional hockey and finish out his senior year of high school.
He then moved to Canada for two years and bounced around to Alaska and North Dakota playing on several teams before he moved back home for good about three years ago to focus on school and a career. It was really difficult going through my college years and his prime 'partying years' with trust issues and me only visiting him maybe twice during a typical nine-month season and then having summer break together. We had a few short-term (less than a week) breakups over the four-year span but ultimately we made it! We are happily living together now and share expenses and three cats. I'd say it was worth it. And not having a physical boyfriend around regularly for four years made it a little easier to focus on school and workouts! I looked amazing after a nine-month season without his bad eating habits influencing my diet!" —Stephanie
2. "Our relationship was hard at first for several reasons. We got together on the heels of other relationships, plus there is a 12-year age difference between us, and we both wanted to be in control.
We went through some heavy judgment from our community. We argued and fought passionately over so many things: money, sex, time together, career goals, etc. We didn't think we'd make it. There were many times when we'd sit together in sadness, crying over the thought that we might lose each other. There was so much love between us, but we had no clue how to deal with these issues. We felt stuck, miserable, and very angry. We made a decision to give our relationship just six more months (as a last resort), and if it didn't change, we would let go of each other. During this six-month period, we were each to be completely who we were. This meant not hiding or pretending or compromising our individual beliefs and desires. We also attended couples therapy on a weekly basis. During this last-resort period, we were afforded an opportunity to really 'see' each other for who we were versus who we thought the other was or how we wanted the other to be. It was a time to get real. We discovered that we were each doing backflips to show 'love' to the other in ways that wasn't meaningful to that person. That was a huge 'aha' moment! It meant that I got to stop bringing her flowers and instead would sit [with her] to forecast our budget. She learned that the act of paying the bills was not an intimate act for me and that I preferred time talking together. Our marriage is so beautiful now. We really know each other, and we move like a unit. We're accepting of each other and united in our growth, finances, family, and intimacy to such a degree that we could never see one being without the other. It's been 10 years, and we're crazy about each other, in deeper love than we could ever have imagined!" —K. Michelle
3. "When I first started dating my current boyfriend, it was beyond passionate in the beginning and then about a year after, he cheated on me.
Once he told me, I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle the situation. After some serious thinking—and consulting with my family and friends—I chose to hang in there. It was rocky after that. I didn't trust him for a while and questioned his every move. It took him about two years to fully get back into my good graces, but when I did, I finally gave him all of my heart. Eight years later, we're still together and stronger than ever. If anything, I realized that he is the love of my life and he's worth the second chance." —Alexis
4. "I started dating my fiancé at the end of my first year in grad school. He and I seemed like the perfect match.
Our friends joked mere months into our relationship that we were already a happily married couple, and it didn't seem far from the truth. As I dug deeper into my Ph.D. program and he began studying for his own exams, the stress began to pull us apart. I was always worried about my research and my financial situation, while he tried to balance a full-time job, commuting, and 20 to 40 hours per week of studying. Because the first year had been so easy, we both took our relationship for granted. We all but called it quits a few times. But something kept us together. After I submitted my dissertation and he passed a major milestone in his exam process, we realized that we really were a happy couple—he even proposed a few months later! From all of this, we learned not to take our relationship for granted and to always make our time together a priority." —Luci
5. "William and I met during an awkward time in both our lives. He had just gotten out of a relationship, and I was getting ready to take on the biggest venture of my life—moving to NYC to pursue my big dream of wanting to act.
He and I were compatible from the start. William needed time to regroup and I needed time to [get started]. He and I both agreed that if it was meant to be, then it would be. He and I remained in contact daily through email, along with daily phone contact, for four years. During those four years, we only missed one time talking to each other, due to the NYC blackout in 2003. Communication was the key element to our relationship. Years later, William and I have been together a total of 14 years, counting the distance, and married eight. Although I didn't land that role on Broadway, I landed the perfect mate." —Tasha
6. "I met a man who said he was 20 years sober and I believed him. And it was a rocky beginning because he wasn't.
John and I met on a blind date and, living in different cities, it was a challenge to sort out. We were both in transition: He was close to a divorce and had fallen off the proverbial wagon due to his guilt about leaving an 18-year marriage; I had re-entered the dating pool after a seven-year hiatus and a 100-pound weight loss. The stress led him back to booze and a second DUI. With amazing determination, he spent a full year taking the Greyhound bus to visit me 160 miles round trip each week. The common bond sounds like a well-trodden cliché: Two people who truly care about each other and are willing to dedicate considerable energy to making it work. My late mother, a marriage counselor, had one key message about relationships: If you are generous in every way possible (able to accept flaws, remain optimistic, negotiate differences, work on challenges as a team, and, of course, be willing to commit emotionally), [the relationship] wins out in the end. Every relationship has proverbial bumps in the road. But five years later, even 160 miles worth of bumps has never outweighed our generous commitment to each other." —Robin
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.