10 Ways to Simplify Relationships

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Don’t over-analyze or make up excuses for bad behavior.  If someone treats you poorly, do yourself the justice of walking awayThe 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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/
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

I’m a Cheap Date

I wrote this post last night & have been waffling back & forth about posting it because I am afraid it will sound too provocative when that isn’t how I mean it at all.  But at the encouragement of a friend I am posting it anyway.  I’ll admit I gave it a provocative title to attract more readers, & also because I frankly couldn’t think of a better title.  I think I’m a decent writer but creating titles is a talent I seriously don’t have.  Anyway, cheers!


I watched a movie tonight that made me realize something about myself: I’m a cheap date. Now let me expound on that a bit in case you think I mean this in the typical sense of the phrase. The movie was called Nice Guys Sleep Alone & focused on two 30ish adults in Louisville, KY who attempt to start dating each other but quickly realize that they are not interested in dating in the traditional sense of the word. In other words they want to be so much more than just friends & yet they want to be able to spend time together in ways that feel natural & not forced, much the way that friends do. As you might guess from the title of the film, the main male character has always been a “nice guy” & it’s often landed him in the infamous “friend zone.” (For the life of me I’ll never understand why so many girls go after bad guys & ignore nice ones, but that is a whole other blog post right there.) Because he is truly interested in a serious relationship with this woman he decides to take a friend’s advice & not be such a “nice guy” this time, thinking this will actually make her more attracted to him. So he shows up late for their first date, doesn’t bring flowers, & takes her to a local burger joint instead of a fancy restaurant. Not too surprisingly this sends the wrong message to the woman but because this is a movie naturally they eventually work things out.

What this movie made me realize is that I actually LIKE the idea of more “casual” dates in which you go out to “cheap” restaurants (if you know me, you know I’d much prefer a good burger to an expensive steak, sushi, or anything “fancy” ANY day of the week), wear regular clothes, & generally hang out the way friends do. These are the kind of dates my husband & I always had. (I suppose part of the reason for this is that we started dating when we were much too young to be able to go to expensive/fancy restaurants but that’s beside the point.) These are still the kind of “dates” we have if you can call them that when you’re married. And I love it. I hate going to fancy restaurants where you have to dress up (it’s not that I hate dressing up; it’s that I hate feeling like I HAVE to dress up just to gain admission somewhere). It just feels so forced, & I can never really relax when I have to wonder which fork I’m supposed to be using or if I’m even going to know what half the stuff on the menu actually is.  (If that makes me unsophisticated, I’ll be the first to admit it.)  I’d rather check out local hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I can wear jeans & a t-shirt & no make-up & not feel underdressed at all. I think the reason for this is that I crave intimacy in my relationships. Intimacy requires comfort & who can be comfortable in a black-tie setting? And I don’t just mean intimacy in the physical sense but in the emotional sense. Even in my friendships I don’t want to just talk about fashion, food, or other “superficial” things. I want to have deep conversations about the meaning of life, philosophy, religion, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind less serious conversations but I crave the deeper kind most of all. This is why I will ALWAYS be more comfortable in one-on-one or small group settings than in large groups or big parties. I’ve strayed from the point a bit but what I’m trying to say is that I feel people are the most honest, genuine, & natural versions of themselves in casual settings. Additionally it implies a greater level of trust & comfort if you don’t feel the need to go on all the fancy traditional dates just to get to know someone.

[*Disclaimer: I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to expensive/fancy restaurants or to dress up for dates. I’m just saying this shouldn’t have to be the expectation for everyone & doing something “less” shouldn’t be immediately deemed suspect.]

I think part of the reason modern society is so confused about relationships is that we focus so much on dating when really we should be focusing on building relationships based on friendship & companionship. It’s only natural to me that romance can blossom from such relationships. I really can’t imagine it any other way. I’ve always said any man with $20 can buy me flowers. And any man with a couple hundred dollars can buy me nice jewelry. Those things really take very little thought or effort at all. The most valuable gift any of us can give another is time because it’s the one thing we can never get back.

So, ladies & gentleman, if you want to show someone you care, spend time with them. Invest in their life. Get to know them. If a person is worth knowing they won’t insist you spend $100 on dinner every time you want to hang out. At least that’s what I believe. And if that makes me a cheap date, so be it.

**If you’re wondering why I included a picture of Nick & Jess from New Girl it’s because they are my favorite TV/movie couple ever, the reason being that they are so natural together.  They were friends first who in the process of becoming friends also fell in love.  I strongly believe this is how the best, most lasting relationships start & it’s so rare to see that portrayed so well in popular media.  Hence my obsession with this show.  (The fact that they’re both super cute doesn’t hurt either, ha!)