Relationships are tricky. I’ve noticed people find a lot of things confusing. I put together a list of things that I hope clears some things up, but it’s important to realize that there are a lot of different people in the world and some might like to be chased, for example, while others want to do the chasing.
1. You don’t need to be into all the same stuff.
Variety is the spice of life. My parents don’t have a lot in common with each other yet they’ve been married for over 50 years. My dad is a retired mechanic who can play stringed instruments and draw. My mom is a housewife who cooks and reads. They both like country music and shows like Heartland. Dad’s an introvert and mom isn’t. Mom hoards and dad pitches stuff whenever he can. Dad likes to drink and mom rarely does. A couple of shared things is good. You need something in common. It’s important to keep your uniqueness though and that happens by being into different things. You can also be into similar things at varying levels of intensity. Maybe one is super into superheroes and the other is more casual about it while they love something else the other hardly knows exists. It’s cool. Maybe one likes to watch the odd hockey game and the other hates sports.
2. You don’t need to have all the same friends.
It’s good to have some mutual friends, but you should also each have some of your own. One of the things that drove me crazy about my ex husband was that he wouldn’t hang out with his buddies without me. There were times I just wanted to stay home and watch a TV show he didn’t like, read a book, write stuff, or even clean the house instead of seeing the same band play all the same songs we heard before. Yeah, it’s good to be able to be around each other’s friends now and then, but not all the time. Couples need time apart to fuel the fire. Also, those couple of things you don’t like, they can do with their friends who get that part of them that you might not.
3. Stuff like whether or not you can use chopsticks isn’t important.
Similar values are. If you’re 420 friendly and your partner thinks anyone that smokes weed must be morally corrupt, it’s not going to work. If you want children and the other person doesn’t, it won’t work. If one of you can’t handle the other being more successful, it’s not going to work. If you’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it *might* work depending on how you treat each other when disagreeing about contentious topics.
4. Arguments are going to happen.
How you treat each other while disagreeing is important. Timing is also important. Picking a fight before bed when you know they have an important meeting the next day is crappy. Also, There were probably other opportunities to talk about things long before bed time. It’s also bad to decide to bug them about something like getting their drivers license as they writhe about on the floor in pain because they need a root canal and root death is super painful. And I’m way not a fan of leaving crap until you’re at a party where you decide to cause a scene in front of all your friends. You need to work together to solve problems rather than blame the other person.
5. Sex is important. To a degree.
If one of you is a nymphomaniac and the other could go without it for months, there will be problems. I don’t personally feel like it has to be spectacular the first couple of times with a new partner. It takes a little time to get used to what the other person likes and it also takes time to feel comfortable asking for things. That said, if it’s nearing the 10th time and my head could be banging against the headboard for all he cares, he’s not long-term relationship material. There are a variety of positions, so things like height differences or injuries never have to be a barrier either. Lube is important. Very. Swallow your pride on that one.
6. Trust is one of the most important things.
You can’t be freaking out if he or she sits with a buddy instead of you. If you think some other person sitting beside them is cock block, especially in a setting like school or work, you have an unhealthy obsession and this isn’t a loving thing. People don’t belong to you. You have to be able to trust that when they aren’t with you, they’re still committed to you. Unless they have a history of cheating or never make time for you, there’s no reason to think they aren’t committed to you. If you’ve even been dating long enough to have a level of commitment that is. It takes time to want to make someone an important part of your life. If you expect that they should be committed to you when you haven’t given them any, that’s not cool either.
7. It’s supposed to be loving and fun.
Yeah, there will be hard times, but if you always remember the reason is love, you should be able to find the way through the tough times. Occasionally this may mean ending things. Sometimes it’s hard to see that we’re only meant to be friends with someone. Sometimes we wish we figured that out before year 12 rolled around…
8. Everyone gets scared.
We get scared when they’re on a different page than we are. We get scared when we think they’re out of our league. We get scared when something changes. We get scared if they’re more experienced or worldly. Talk about stuff. They might be scared about the same thing you are. Don’t make decisions for the other person or assume you know how they feel about something. Don’t think you know if they would like to do some activity or not. Ask them. If you want to have coffee or a drink with them, ask. One thing that annoys me more than anything is when someone thinks they’re not good enough to date me. How about you let me decide that?
9. Support rarely means money.
It means cheering your partner on even if you don’t understand why they like something. It means not telling them they’ll never be a writer because they can’t write like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. It means being cool with them doing training weekends away from you. It means giving them the time they need to pursue their goals. You might need to do a little extra around the house for a bit while they do that. Don’t hold it against them, but definitely your turn should come around too. You also support each other by working together. Maybe one cooks dinner and the other cleans up or you do both together.
10. Be yourself.
It sounds cliché and cheesy, but it’s true. If you spend too much time getting into whatever they’re into, you can lose yourself and that’s unhealthy. No one is worth that much no matter how cute or nice they are to you. It’s especially easy for this to happen in marriage. Most people don’t want clones of themselves as partners.
11. There’s no set speed to take anything.
Some people kiss on the first date and some do way more. Some take many dates before a kiss happens. A general recommendation is to hold off on sex until you know they won’t steal your stuff. I learned that one the hard way. Someday I’ll replace my DSLR. There’s no set time on when to introduce them to your friends or family either. Some people like to get an early opinion from friends to hopefully weed out the crazies. Others won’t bother until they want to take a bigger step like moving in together. It’s all what works for both of you. I saw an interesting meme that said you don’t truly know someone until you’ve seen them grieve a lost loved one, seen them face financial distress, and seen them when they’re sick. While memes are dubious sources, those really are vulnerable moments and it will take time for someone to let you see their impression of a snot monster.
It’s easy to over think things and get nervous whether you want to ask someone for coffee or discuss something more serious like having a regular date night or moving in together. Most of the time it’s really unnecessary to get so stressed out. There’s always the risk they won’t be on board, but it’s OK if they need more time. And if their answer is no, take your lumps gracefully and move on. I ask people out frequently. I’m always nervous about it. Often, they already have girlfriends. A no isn’t the end of the world. It frees you up to find someone else who is available and into you.
13. Have deal breakers.
These are things that are absolute nos for you. Mine include abusive behaviours and not taking no when I’m not up for sex. And I like sex a lot, but sometimes people just aren’t in the mood and can’t get into the mood. If the only reason you’re sticking around is that, then you don’t know what loving someone else is about.
14. Forget about labels.
Someone might occasionally watch hockey or do something kind of athletic like ice skating or martial arts. That doesn’t mean they’re a “jock”. Maybe they just like doing something to stay healthy or hey, if you live in Canada, lots of non-athletes like hockey. Similarly, lots of people like geeky things and also go to the gym to reduce the effects of sitting all day at computers.
15. Healthy relationships let both people grow and change.
Who you are when we first meet might be vastly different than who you’ll likely become. Things happen that change people. The loss of certain loved ones like a parent can be life-altering. So can some jobs. New hobbies will also change a person to a degree. And as we age, we might face health challenges that force us to make changes.
So as we head towards the new year, I hope you get up the nerve to talk to that person you’ve been crushing on.
For more in depth advice for long term relationships, check out this article.