Perhaps it’s because my husband is traveling for his job but I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about relationships & how people tend to make them way more complicated than they need to be. May I be the first to admit this includes myself sometimes, lest I should sound like I’m implying that I’m some kind of relationship guru which I clearly am not? I’m not even sure such a thing exists. Anyhow, I’ve been slacking off on my blog posts this week, which might seem like a sign that I’ve run out of ideas, but what it actually means is that I’ve been overwhelmed by ideas, yet haven’t been able to light on any of them. In any case I’ve decided to compile a list of ways to simplify relationships & thus simplify life. Here we go.
- Be honest about what you want out of a relationship from the very beginning. If you want a friends with benefits type of arrangement, say so. If someone tells you that’s what they want & you aren’t truly in agreement, for the love of YOURSELF, say so. Don’t pretend to be ok with something you aren’t & then be surprised when it doesn’t work out later. On the other hand if you’re serious about a relationship, say so. I’m not advocating proposing marriage on a first date, but don’t be afraid to say you’re serious. And don’t be afraid to say no to someone who is serious about you if you truly don’t reciprocate. Again, pretending never ends well. Have enough self-respect to be honest about your feelings & goals from square one. This leads right into number two.
- Give respect. Get respect. It really is that simple. Don’t play mind games with anyone. Don’t “test” someone by asking to spend time with an ex or some childish prank like that, just to see how they react. Just be forthright and respectful. Treat the other person the way you want to be treated. Don’t expect special treatment because of your gender or anything else. Be an adult.
- Don’t place unrealistic expectations on your partner (or yourself). Getting married or being in any serious relationship doesn’t mean you sign away your humanity. Regardless of your gender, you will inevitably still be attracted to other people, & that doesn’t lessen the love you feel for your partner. It’s just part of being a human being. Just be cognizant of it & know your limits. Don’t be one of those childish people who expects their partner to suddenly think they are the only sexy person on planet Earth. That just screams of insecurity. Just let out all of your sexual energy on each other & you’ll be just fine.
- Never stop getting to know your partner. After you’ve been together a long time, it’s so easy to think you’ve already figured someone out & to stop putting in the time to really understand each other because you think you already know it all. Trust me, I know. My husband & I had been together almost a decade by the time we got married. But I’m still pleasantly surprised to find out that we don’t know everything about each other. There is always more to learn & that’s part of what makes a relationship fun. As an addendum, if your relationship is right, marriage shouldn’t change things very much because the relationship was already there.
- Don’t make someone a priority who doesn’t do the same for you. If a guy likes you, he WILL call you back. And vice versa. Someone who cares for you & respects you WILL make time for you, WILL get to know you, & will even make time for your friends & family because they know those people are important to you. They WILL support your dreams & goals in life & will in fact expect you to have dreams & goals.
- Don’t over-analyze or make up excuses for bad behavior. If someone treats you poorly, do yourself the justice of walking away. The Perks of Being a Wallflower got it right: we accept the love we think we deserve. If you find that your partners are always treating you badly, think about what that says about how you view yourself. I’m not excusing bad behavior. I’m just saying don’t expect someone to change. If they really love you, they’ll treat you right from the beginning. Where’s the motivation to change for the better if you’re always there “rewarding” them even when they treat you like crap? Sorry if that’s blunt, but relationships can be messy. It’s all this silly beating around the bush nonsense that makes them so much more complicated than they need to be.
- Realize that deep down we are all still pretty primal. This is why no matter how unfair it is women are judged much more harshly for their sexual decisions than men. Is it fair? No. But biologically it actually DOES make sense. (We’re the ones who can get pregnant so it makes sense that biologically we’d be inclined to be a bit more discriminating about our partners.) No matter how enlightened & empowered we are, we women ARE more sexually vulnerable whether we like it or not. This doesn’t excuse bad behavior on the part of men. No way. I’m not saying we can’t rise above our “animal instincts.” Men are perfectly capable of being committed & faithful, as are women. I’m just saying that we need to realize why men think the way they do & why women think the way they do.
- This one is crucial but is really hard to put into words. Look for the guy or girl who is good in all the right ways & bad in all the right ways. I don’t know how to write this out, but you probably know what I mean. As with everything in life, it’s all about balance & moderation. James M Sama wrote a fabulous blog post about this idea, & there is no way I can say it as well as he did so I’m just going to leave you the link to his brilliant article: http://jamesmsama.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-difference-between-a-bad-boy-and-a-jerk/
- Don’t feel the need to spend every single second together. A truly great relationship will give you the confidence to be alone sometimes. Or to be apart & know that things are still going to be ok. If your partner wants a day or two to spend with their friends or family without you, let them. Couples who really trust each other don’t feel the need to be together 24/7. You were a person before you met your partner & you’re still your own person even with them. Don’t forget that.
- This one is a big one & might cause some controversy but I’m going to write it anyway because I truly believe it . . . Give up on the idea that there is only ONE RIGHT PERSON for you. The older I get the more I believe that there is a right TYPE for everyone & that you may very well meet several people in your life with whom you could be very happy in a relationship. Notice I didn’t say anyone will be PERFECT for you. There is no Mr. or Mrs. Perfect because human beings are inherently flawed. But there are plenty of great people out there, a few of whom might be wonderful matches for you. When you find one, be smart enough to go after them. When you’ve got one, hold onto them. Someone else may cross your path who might also be a great match but don’t ruin what you’ve already got on a chance at something else. I’m a big believer in science & logic so I wish I could say there was a scientific way to KNOW when you’ve met one of these RIGHT people, but there isn’t. You just know. I always remember hearing that as a kid & thinking it was ridiculous. But it’s so true. You know when you meet a friend & you just know right off that you really “click” & that this person is going to be a friend for life? It’s very much like that. As I’ve said many times before, relationships are really just friendships with a bit of amplification so to speak.
Well, I hope you have found this list intriguing. As I said, I’m no relationship guru or expert by any means. I’m just trying to spread a little logic & wisdom into the very chaotic world of relationships that exists in our society. I’m by no means 100% faithful to all of these tenets at all times, but I do try my best & in writing this I have renewed my devotion to putting these ideas into place in my own marriage. I hope perhaps you too have found a little inspiration. I truly believe simplifying relationships can actually make them deeper & more fulfilling. The simple life really is the best. Cheers!