Relationships are harder than they look.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t receive any truly HELPFUL relationship advice from anyone before I really needed it.
True story — a well-intentioned relative warned, “Never sit on a boy’s lap without a telephone book between you.” Embarrassing, but completely true. I had no idea what that meant when I was in high school. I can laugh about it now, but what I really needed was real advice on dating and relationships.
It took years of experience and to learn about what to expect in a relationship.
Here are some pieces of advice I've picked up along the way that still ring true to this day:
1. Do NOT act like a “crazy “person.
If you’d like to see “crazy” in action, watch the introductory commercial for the new season of "The Bachelor" television show. The behaviors of the contestants when meeting the new bachelor for the first time are nothing short of NUTS and a recipe for quick rejection.
Never put on an act for a man in hopes of impressing him. Be your normal, hopefully sane and mature self (and notice I didn’t say boring).
2. Stop obsessing over what he’s thinking.
Listen, I know the relationship is new, but you’ll learn more about what he’s thinking by observation and through real, light-hearted and serious conversations Don’t obsess about what’s on his mind and for goodness sake don’t persist in asking him.
It’s been my experience that men don't enjoy repeated questions about what they are thinking.
Instead, engage him in a dialog about whatever you want to know more about. Resist the urge to interrupt the silence with this mood altering question, “What are you thinking about?"
3. Don't force him to make a commitment (or give him an ultimatum).
Are you tired of waiting for him to make that forever commitment? If so, do whatever it takes to stop yourself from making emotional demands. Instead, focus on your own life by engaging with friends and activities that don’t always include him.
Show him your confident independence and be honest about your future goals.
4. Don't forget your own needs and desires.
Remember, you are in a relationship. It’s not ALL about him, his needs and wants. It’s about you too!
So often women get caught up in becoming what they think their partner wants and then push their own desires so far off the radar, the relationship quickly becomes one-sided. NEVER give up your friends, family, interests or values for the sake of a relationship.
In Relationship Rescue: It Starts With You , Dr. Phil McGraw shares the following great advice: "If you do not have a pure and healthy love and regard for yourself, how can you possibly give that to anyone else? And if you can't give it to anyone else, how can you possibly expect to have it reciprocated?"
5. Never tolerate disrespectful behavior.
You might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you and I hope it doesn’t. But, sadly I’ve witnessed really smart together women make excuses for their partner’s clearly disrespectful behavior.
In my experience, when you let a man get away with behaving badly he assumes his actions are alright with you. I know it can be challenging to confront unwanted behavior, but I assure you it will be worth it in the long-term.
Set healthy boundaries right away in your love relationship.
6. Give him a chance to explain himself.
You are getting to know him, but you most likely do not know him well enough to jump to conclusions about why he said or did something. Ask him.
You can say “hey, noticed you didn't introduce me to your friend at the party last night. I was wondering what’s up with that?” Maybe he didn’t remember the person’s name, perhaps his manners are lacking or something else is going on. Who knows, unless you ask him?
7. Work hard to make your relationship last.
Whew! You are FINALLY in a real love relationship. You can check that box, right? No. Intimate love relationships require nurturing — now and throughout the relationship.
Although you won't give up friends, especially girlfriends or activities you enjoy, you're committed to spending quality time with him and on your relationship, which is now a new priority. There is less time for other things – just be sure to create a balance that suits both of you.
Happy new love adventures to you!