New Year, New... Us?
What a better time to have a fresh start than the beginning of a new year? The beginning of a new decade, of course! Time to sit down, make a long list of all your over-ambitious resolutions, and set up to fail. Do you relate?
Often when we start something new we’re full of the best intentions and in high spirits, and sooner than later life gets in our way and reality clashes with the idealistic scenario we had created in our minds. This also happens when starting new relationships. At the beginning of a relationship, everything seems to be easy and promising. After some time everything changes and becomes harder and unexciting in the best cases, arduous and suffocating in the worst.
Why does this happen to you over and over again?
First of all, don’t beat up yourself too much for it. It happens to the best of us. We grow up with little resources and a lack of information on how to build healthy relationships in general. Dating is presented in mainstream media as a game where one needs to play tricks, which leads to many people being dishonest to themselves and to the new people they’re getting to learn. We hold on to some artificial ideas of what a relationship should be, how a lover should behave and how things should look like in general, only to be disappointed and to disappoint. Just like we shouldn’t copy-paste new year’s resolutions from other people on to our list, we should not be looking at romantic comedies for dating advice.
So how to start things right for living happily ever after?
1. Start with Yourself
First things first, and that should always be you. Ask yourself where you’re at and what are your needs and wishes. Be kind. Maybe going to the gym is just boring to you and instead, you could start playing a team sport. Maybe you don’t want to focus your energy in a primary partner and instead, you can go on strict casual dating for a while. Take things slow and learn to be more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings.
2. Be Yourself
You want to be loved for who you are, not for being able to mimic some generally accepted romantic performance of love. Surely it is nice to put some effort and show interest when you’re getting to know someone new, but that doesn’t mean having to present a better, shinier, happier, more uncomplicated version of yourself. Be real. Remember, trying to make a good impression can be another form of dishonesty. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. If the new person doesn’t like you as you are, then they’re not the person you want to be spending more time with. Period.
3. Communication, Communication, Communication
Just like there can’t be too much lube in anal, there can’t be too much communication in a relationship. You most definitely don’t say it best when you say nothing at all as the song goes, you’re just predicting a lot of fighting later. Talk about your wishes and needs both on a relationship and a sexual level early on, and you will be sparing yourself precious time and unnecessary letdowns. Address your non-negotiables from the beginning, and clearly explain your boundaries.
But also keep it positive, share your fantasies and relationship utopias. And you know what is another fundamental part of functional communication? Listening. You want to get to know the person you’re starting to date. Now, do really listen. Projecting your idea of an ideal partner on them will not do you or them any favour. Establishing a good communication base from the start will pay off - communicating what you want is one of your safest bets on getting what you want.
4. Be Open
Your wishes and needs should always be taken into account in a respectful, loving relationship. That goes both ways, meaning you should always acknowledge your partner’s needs and wishes. Since everyone is different, the chances that you meet a person that wants exactly the same things as you at all times are literally none. Here is where communication comes in handy, in order to negotiate and create a relationship frame that suits you both. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the definition of a relationship. Being open to making space for another person in your life will make it possible for you to work it out together.
5. Check-In With Yourself
You are the person who knows yourself best, so apart from listening to good friends’ advice, always take the time and space to check-in with yourself. How do you feel about the relationship? Is it making you happy? Can you be yourself around your partner? Can you address any topics you want to discuss, even if you might disagree? Are you knitting a scarf of red flags for the upcoming winter? Try not to compare with past relationships but to judge on the present. Alongside the whole being honest and communicating and working out your relationship frame you should be having reasonable amounts of fun together, a relationship needs to bring you joy. If this is not the case, you need to address it.
6. Stay Open
You change as you grow and so do your partners, so your relationships should as well. Don’t fear change as a sign that something is wrong, communicate about it to figure out where you’re going. You can always start again at the top of this checklist. And reassess your resolutions.
Happy New Decade!