My Relationship Background
I’ve always been a long term relationship person. I dated a middle school boyfriend for two years, a high school boyfriend into college for a total of four years, stayed in a bad relationship for the last two years of college, Tinder dated like a maniac and then met my current boyfriend, Jordan (who I hope to be with for a whole lot longer, am I allowed to write that?). In between those long term relationships there were a handful of shorter relationships but at 25 I’ve spent most of teenage and adult life in a relationship. Dare I say I’ve learned a lot since I had my first kiss at an Aerosmith concert at age 13?
Not all of my past relationships were good nor were they all bad. I consider myself extremely lucky because my first love was the sort of magical teenage love story they write young adult fiction about but don’t get too jealous I dated my fair share of duds too. I stayed in an emotionally toxic relationship for far longer than I should have, and I dated a guy who treated me like I was plain, boring vanilla ice cream (I actually love vanilla ice cream but you guys get the point). What’s my point? I’ve seen a lot but I certainly haven’t seen it all.
A Short List of the things I’ve Never Experienced
I’ve never been married. I’ve never been in any sort of polyamorous relationship. I’ve never dated a woman. I’ve never dated a red head. I’ve never had a long term long distance relationship. I’ve never dated someone who grew up in a different culture than me. I’ve never dated someone younger than me. I’ve never dated a person of color. I’ve never dated someone with an accent. I’ve never dated someone with a man bun. I’ve never dated anybody famous.
As you can see I have a lot of boxes to check off my bucket list still. I’m kidding of course, I don’t actually have a dating bucket list but I think in the interest of full disclosure it is important to keep in mind that there are always variables that change relationship dynamics and I don’t claim to have experienced all of them!
I really love writing about relationships. Blame it on my unhealthy obsessions with love stories or my delusions of being Carrie Bradshaw…either way I spend a great deal of time pondering the ins and outs of healthy (and not so healthy) romances. Since I’ve shared quite a bit about relationships in the past (full archive of dating posts coming soon! Get excited or at least pretend to be) I thought it would be useful to share my own philosophy on love and relationships. Keep in mind my ideas are forever changing as I believe they should be. As I see more, experience more and learn more it’s only natural that my ideas on relationships should shift and evolve too.
My Relationship Philosophy
A Good Relationship isn’t Always the Right Relationship
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that my first love was magical. I’m not saying this in the nostalgic rose colored glasses “remembering things poetically instead of realistically” way people sometimes do, it was a really freaking phenomenal relationship that deserves its own song or book or whatever. But my first love ended, we both grew up and though the love for one another as humans was still there the workability of meshing our lifestyles was not. Sometimes good relationships end and that’s okay. There is no sugar coating it, ending a good relationship is one of the WORST feelings in the world but sometimes it’s necessary and you’ll be all the better for it. Not all good relationships are the right relationships though, even if they were the right relationships for a time. Saying goodbye to something lovely can help you say hello to something suited better to you down the line (more on this another day, promise)!
Date around as much as Possible
Up until my senior year of college I was a serial monogamist. I literally leapt from one long term relationship to the next without much testing the waters in between. Then I discovered Tinder and thus the benefits of actually dating not just “relationship-ing”. Now my advice makes me sounds like a real life Samantha Jones but I promise it comes less from my sexual appetite and more from my desire to choose my relationships wisely, here goes, DATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Seriously stop falling for the first guy who tells you you’re pretty and laughs at your weird jokes about mermaids (okay, maybe I’m projecting a little here). There is a lot to learn from going on a few first dates, casually getting to know someone and kissing a frog or two. Not only did I develop confidence that helped me realize I could get any number of guys to tell me I am pretty & laugh at my mermaid references but I developed my own set of dating standards and criteria.
Caveat:When I say “criteria” I DO NOT mean list of silly must haves like “Blue Eyes, Six Pack, Trust Fund, Family with a great vacation house, Fancy car”. No, no, no! We all want to dater Zayn Malik (or whoever) but what’s really important is a little deeper.
Date as much as possible so when you meet the right person you don’t have to wonder if it is right because you know. Go on dates with people you never thought you would be interested in and with people who look really good on paper. Date multiple people (casually) at once so you don’t fall into the trap of getting serious with someone who is all wrong for you just because you’re lonely and want to feel loved. If I could give one piece of love advice to high school/college/early twenty-something women it would be this: Date around so you can learn about what you actually like in practice not just on paper.
Be with Someone you can be Weird Around
When you first start seeing someone it’s normal to want to put your best foot forward. You spend a little extra time picking a cute outfit, maybe you dust on a little bronzer and politely tuck your phone in your purse instead of texting through dinner. After a couple months do you really want to keep up that facade? I totally believe in keeping the spark alive but I totally do not believe in dating a guy I’m not comfortable around without makeup and a blowout. Everyone is different (obvi) but I need a guy that thinks I’m gorg looking like a drowned rat straight out of the shower with horror movie style makeup smeared around my eyes. I need a guy that can handle my off the wall, weird sense of humor (true life: every guy I’ve ever dated has told me that I am the weirdest person they’ve ever met, at this point I’m just embracing it).
Maybe you don’t pretend to be a bunny or lick your boyfriend on the cheek just to see how he’s doing? But we’re all weird in our own ways. Date someone who can embrace your form of weird and you’ll be a whole lot happier in the long run. Love is totally being weird together.
Don’t Expect a “Label” to Fix a Bad Relationship
DANGER WARNING straight ahead! The most terrifying relationships I’ve ever encountered occur when two people who are clearly very very wrong together decided tying the knot is the way to bandage up their broken relationship. These relationships are often straight out of horror movies (or my chick flick version of horror movies at least, I don’t actually watch real horror movies). There is usually lots of cheating involved, breaking up and getting back together, tears and late night phone calls to friends, alcohol fueled public displays of dysfunction and just general drama up the ying yang. Then out of nowhere these people suddenly decide to get engaged or married as if all the diamonds in the world could fix their issues. Eek!
Do not fall into the trap of expecting a label to solve your relationship woes. While we all don’t settle for unhappy marriages I know I can relate to the feeling of thinking a guy would start treating me better once we became boyfriend and girlfriend. One should have the wisdom to understand that a guy that texts you after 10:00PM and avoids you during daylight hours will NOT transform into prince charming when adorned with the boyfriend title.
Try not to Project what you Want/Need in a Relationship onto other people
Boy oh boy have I dug myself a grave judging other people’s relationships in the past. Believe it or not your friends don’t absolutely love it when you are constantly side eyeing the men they choose to love #SurpriseSurprise. The older I get the more I realize how different I am even from my closest friends. These differences aren’t because I’m “OMG such a special snowflake” but because we all are different even from our most kindred spirits. What I want and need in a partner isn’t necessarily the same as what my best friend wants. Sometimes it is difficult to articulate these fundamental differences because we all want happiness, trust, love, etc. You might be searching for the man you’re going to marry while your bff could be happy with Mr. Right Now with the great hair. You might need someone who is home every night for dinner while your friend might want a little more space.
I know firsthand it is really difficult not to judge your best friend’s boyfriend for not fitting into the exact mold you want for her. I truly believe our judgements come from a place of love (we want our friends to be happy and loved) but they are not generally helpful. Unless your friend is in a harmful relationship (aka physical or emotional abuse) in my experience it is usually best to be supportive. You won’t connect with every close friend’s boyfriend but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Remind yourself that what you want in a relationship and the qualities you need in a significant other are not always the same needs your friends strive for.
Treat your Partner like your Best Friend
A good group of girl friends is irreplaceable. I really value my best friends and strive to maintain those friendships throughout the years. That being said, if you have to invite your best friend to your wedding you’re marrying the wrong person. I truly hate corny sayings like that and I vommed in my mouth a little typing it but the sentiment is spot on. No one can replace your platonic friendships but in a long term relationship your partner should be your best friend. Jordan is the first person I want to tell exciting news, I miss him terribly when we’re apart and I crave time with just the two of us when we can laugh, talk and snuggle. He’s my bestie!
Going a step further-you’ve got to treat your partner like a best friend too. You wouldn’t send your bestie passive aggressive texts or refuse to takeout the garbage just to prove a point (I hope not at least). You wouldn’t snoop through your friend’s phone or make snide remarks about your friend’s mom. So often we treat our friends better than we treat our partner because we are afraid they won’t like us at our most mean and selfish. Your partner will see you on bad days. We all have bad days- I’ve been known to act a little bratty when I’m sleep deprived. I am a big proponent of being your boyfriend (or girlfriend)’s best friend and being a best friend means being kind, selfless, understanding and NOT snapping in anger every time the opposing party annoys or inconveniences you.
I hope these key points have helped you to understand a little bit about my relationship philosophy. I am not under the impression that my ideas are the right ideas or the only ideas. There are so many theories on relationships and approaches to dating/marriage out there. I love hearing why and how different relationships work as well as comparing past relationship practices to recent relationship phenomena (like I don’t know…marrying for love).
This is a long post so thank you for reading (or skimming). I have written a lot about relationships in the past and plan to continue writing about relationships in the future. This post is my attempt to give you a foundation about what I believe and where I’m coming from. Go ahead and cherry pick which ideas you agree or disagree with from there!
As always your thoughts and opinions mean the world to me. Leave a comment with what you have learned/believe about relationships. I am always eager to hear about other love and dating philosophies!
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