4 Rules for the Beginning of a Relationship
I’ve made my share of dating mistakes. When I was in college, my own daddy said I “marched through men like Sherman through Atlanta”. Ouch! The bad news: Dad may have been right. The good news: that experience wasn’t wasted. All relationships work in the same basic ways; to spare you the pain I suffered (and inflicted), I’m sharing my get-real advice for beginning a relationship. Follow these rules, and you should be able to avoid some treacherous romantic pitfalls.
Rule #1: Don’t date crabby people. Hateful, spiteful, petty, rude, irritable, crabby, ill-tempered, hot-tempered, or just plain mean — if you date someone who fits that description, you are setting yourself up for a serious blow to your self-esteem. Almost all relationships end; it’s a lucky person who finds even one relationship that lasts forever. If you date a Crabby Person, you can be sure that this relationship will hurt you more than them. Even if you’re the one to leave, even if both of you are feeling disappointed, hurt, heartbroken, or disgusted by the relationship, you will also be hearing about all your flaws and shortcomings. When you get involved with someone who acts like a jerk under normal circumstances, just imagine how they will be when the relationship ends.
Rule #2: Don’t date anyone hoping they will change. People can change, and sometimes they do, but the beginning of a relationship is not the time to make big compromises. Getting off drugs, learning anger management, or being honest is the other person’s problem to fix — not yours. Always assume that anything you dislike about a person is an immutable quality. You might be tempted to think that Joe won’t treat you the way he treats Jane, because you are nothing close to the loser that Jane is. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that being wonderful will make someone change. A person who behaves towards others in a way you don’t like will eventually behave toward you in the exact same way. If you’re involved with someone who lies to other people, she will lie to you, too. He calls names when he argues? Get ready. It’s all a matter of time.
Rule #3: Don’t date anyone who’s not hot. It’s tempting to get into sexual relationships with people you are friends with — you like each other, you have common interests, you get along, you enjoy being together, it’s comfortable — and sometimes it can be great. Sometimes it’s a big mess. The difference? Chemistry. Friendly love is not a substitute for romantic love. Dating someone just because they’re nice, you’re lonely, or you hope it will develop into passion is unfair to the other person. Your feelings are bound to show themselves eventually, and then this person you genuinely care about will feel foolish and used.
Rule #4: Don’t commit to anyone who can’t meet your needs. No single person will ever meet all of your needs; however, the two of you should have a significant degree of natural compatibility. When your needs are complementary, it’s much easier to keep a relationship fun and healthy. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship if you are dissatisfied and can’t find a way to get out of it what you need!
You know what they say: love is a battlefield. Think of these rules as your armor. They can’t prevent every injury, but they can minimize the damage you receive.