“Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” -unknown
“And we then are obligated to live up to the lies we told each other about who we are. We are then forced to be better people than we actually are, because it’s expected of us by each other.” – sex columnist Dan Savage
This morning I read two different quotes about continuing to be the person you are portraying in the beginning of a relationship in order to make the relationship last and, at the same time, make you a better person. In the beginning of a relationship we are on our best behavior, with impeccable manners, making sure our appearance is put together, keeping a clean house, trying to enjoy life and laugh often, trying not to talk badly about people or be judgmental, planning special dates, being romantic and affectionate, and so on. Some people will say that you are living a lie. I, however, think you are being the perfect version of you, and the version you know that is most attractive to others. And then once we get comfortable… that stops. Why?
Keep making the effort to be that best version of you and you will eventually become a better you. Make the commitment as a couple to be the person that each of you fell in love with.
You can look all you want, but you will never find a perfect relationship. It doesn’t exist. Every couple has problems. Scratch that. Every pair of people — be they siblings, roommates, best friends, business partners, or lovers, has problems. The trick is to find someone who deals with anxiety the same way you do. Stress is inevitable, but if you both are able to get through it together in a healthy manner, then it will make all the great times that much more amazing.
Don’t expect things to be easy, relationships are hard work and anyone who tells you different is lying. If you aren’t willing to do the work to make it work, then there’s no need to live with, work with, or be with, that person.
This may sound harsh, but it’s all true. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. You need someone who is going to be on your team with the same strategy to win at the game of life. So if you meet someone and issues arise (and they will), don’t fret, just wait and see how you deal with those issues together… or not.
under Date Night
There’s this guy I met on JDate about a year ago and we went out for a while; even though he definitely saw a future with me, I never felt there was a future, so I broke it off. I dated a few guys since then, and although there was more chemistry, they didn’t treat me as well and there were lots of other issues. I keep thinking back to that first guy, and wonder if I should give him a second chance to see if the attraction grows. What do you think?
-Give a Guy a Chance?
Dear Give a Guy a Chance,
You can’t force attraction, but you should allow yourself to open up to things that feel different. That initial attraction is often lust, which can dissipate over time. Being treated well and having a relationship grow based on respect and commonalities can create a much deeper bond and attraction. But, if you’ve given it a fair shake and there’s just something missing, then it’s only fair to the both of you to break it off again.
Be honest and be kind — this man has now been vulnerable with you twice.
What happens when your friends don’t like the person you’re dating? Some people believe that a good friend should support you and your decisions whether they agree with them or not. Others believe that if you’re a good friend, then you should speak up and let your opinion be known because it is coming from a trusted source who has your best intentions at heart. Which is correct? Neither.
The best approach is somewhere in between. Let your friend know you are protective of them because you love them and are going to be extra wary of anyone new in their life, and if they ever need someone to turn to who won’t be judgmental… then you will be there. And if they do turn to you with complaints about their significant other, then don’t say “I told you so” or “I tried to warn you,” or anything of the sort. Sometimes being a good friend is saying nothing and just being there.
Everyone is different; we were all raised differently, and prefer a different type of balance in our relationships. Some people want equality, whereas others prefer to let the woman run the show, and still others want men to wear the pants in the family. For many this is due to what their parents relationship looked like growing up. Even if you didn’t like your parent’s balance, it is difficult to break the cycle. Some of it is cultural, some of it is considered old school, and a lot of today’s egalitarian relationships are attributed to modern times with women working outside the home and earning as much as, or more, than their counterparts.
Every relationship is different, and how your relationship is balanced shouldn’t be of anyone else’s concern as long as you are happy with it. That said, you might find yourself in a male-dominated relationship and be perfectly content to move on to a more egalitarian balance in your next relationship. Each relationship balance is going to be different. All that matters is that you feel happy and respected in yours!
under Date Night
Recently, a friend called me with a question and gave me permission to share his story:
“Ryan” is poly-dating (as I recommend) and is in the early stages of dating “Rebecca,” whom he met on JDate, and also communicating with “Rachel,” a woman he recently connected with on JDate as well. Ryan and Rachel have been trading instant messages, emails, texts, and chatting on the phone — all before their first date. Ryan and Rebecca, on the other hand, have spent time in person, talking until the wee hours of the morning and sharing a few kisses on a few occasions now.
Ryan knows that poly-dating is a smart idea so he doesn’t get too serious about any girl too quickly… but things with Rebecca are progressing naturally and he already really likes her. Now he feels guilty about his upcoming date with Rachel, and he also likes Rachel and feels guilty that he’s spent so much time getting to know her and building up expectations. Should he go out with her?
Interestingly, in this case, I said no, he shouldn’t. He has already spent time with Rebecca and likes her, and wouldn’t be giving Rachel a fair shake because he would be distracted by feeling he’s betraying Rebecca. As unfair as it is to Rachel, his communicating with her while dating Rebecca was the poly-dating that kept a good pace for their relationship to unfold. Now he can commit to dating only Rebecca and see where it leads. Meanwhile, he should be honest with Rachel and let her know that he met someone else and wants to see where it goes out of respect for her and his new relationship. He should end the conversation with a compliment, of course, noting how great he thinks she is since it was only timing that prevented them from exploring more, and nothing personal about her.
Side note: this is another example of why too much communicating before a first date is not beneficial and, in fact, is detrimental by creating unrealistic expectations.
A couple of my friends have recently asked my opinion about their respective relationships, which are all in the same general phase: things were moving along smoothly for several months but both my friends felt they should be emotionally further along than they are. They wonder if they should break-up with their significant other because something is perhaps missing, or if they should continue seeing each other and hope it progresses?
Is there a timeline for when you should be in love?
For one of my friends I supported her decision to break-up with the guy. He already had incredibly strong feelings for her and she was only finding reasons not to fall in love with him. It would be inconsiderate of her to continue dating him because she would be basically leading him on since she didn’t have anywhere near the same feelings.
For my other friend, I supported his decision to stay with his girlfriend and give it more time. Although she felt stronger towards him, she was also aware that he wasn’t in the same place yet. He likes her just fine and is having fun and doesn’t want to put pressure on the relationship to move any faster, and she says she is okay with that. I told him to make sure she wasn’t saying that to him just to placate him because she is hoping he will fall in love with how easygoing she is.
There’s no right time for when you should have the feelings of love, but you do need to know the difference between love and lust, and understand when someone is unfairly feeling far more into you. Don’t waste your time or someone else’s, especially when feelings are involved.
When you’re dating, you will likely make pronouncements about how you feel about various topics, whether that be parenting, where you want to live, what you want to do with your life, how religious you are or want to be, what side of politics you lean towards, and so on and so forth.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind one day.
And if you’re in a relationship, that doesn’t mean your partner will have to agree or support your change of heart. Oftentimes you won’t realize how you feel about a certain topic until you’re in the moment when said topic presents itself. You are allowed to change your mind, but if it’s something pretty huge (like deciding you no longer want kids, want to move halfway around the world, or want to become an Orthodox Jew), then you can’t expect a significant other to instantly decide to change their life along with you. Follow your heart’s desire of course, and don’t decide not to change because you’re afraid your partner won’t approve or will break up with you. At the end of the day you have to be true to yourself.
That said, if you’re engaged, married or have children, altering your life drastically may be more of an issue, and it’s important to make major decisions like this as a couple.
under Date Night
Going on dates, being someone’s significant other, and just being an all-around good friend means that you need to be a good listener.
When you’re on a date, it’s normal to chime in with a “me too!” when you’re looking for commonalities, but make sure you allow the other person to complete their thought. When you’re in a relationship, it’s normal to become a sounding board and to chime in with advice — but sometimes it’s best to just be there as a symbolic shoulder. Being a good friend does not always mean needing to speak, but instead just allowing the other person to talk and feel heard.
Listening is a skill. Learn it. It will come in handy in your love life and many other areas of life.
If you like a friend of yours as more than a friend, and don’t tell them, and then they start dating someone else, you have no one to blame but yourself.
What have you got to lose? Chances are you’re not going to stay friends with someone you had a crush on if they get into a serious relationship with someone else, so why not tell them how you feel?
If you are in a relationship and don’t speak your mind about how you want to be treated, or touched, or teased, then don’t be upset when your partner disrespects you, or isn’t affectionate, or doesn’t know your limits… because you never made your expectations clear!
People are not mind readers, you need to tell them how you feel and what you’re thinking. If you are honest with your words (and your actions support them) and the feelings are not reciprocated, then at least you put it all out there and will have no regrets.