Relationship Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner post image

Relationship Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner


I’ve been writing about relationships for several years now. A funny thing I’ve noticed when I tell people what I do for a living is that they automatically assume that I was always just good with relationships. Ha! I was as clueless as they come not so long ago. Every mis-step, every faux-pas, every tactic guaranteed to drive a man away, I did it…and was subsequently left baffled as to where I went wrong. You see, getting the guy was never the problem…keeping him always was.

I’m not one to get caught up in regrets and what ifs. And in retrospect, I’m glad I made those mistakes and went through that kind of pain because had I not, I wouldn’t be able to write about relationships the way that I do and I never would have felt any sort of motivation to start this website.

Of course, sometimes I wonder how certain situations would have unfolded had I learned certain lessons a bit sooner. Since I can’t go back and undo what’s been done, I’m going to share the relationship lessons I wish I knew sooner to spare you from going down my beaten path.

Here they are:

1. You can’t win them all. In your dating career you will most likely meet a guy (or guys) who you think is the one. He has everything you’ve ever wanted (and never thought you’d actually find in another person), you get along, you seem like the perfect match on paper….but he doesn’t want you. Ouch. Whatever you do, don’t do what I used to do and take this to mean there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re somehow not good enough. Everyone has a nature to them and everyone has something they want to give and want to get. When it’s one person’s nature to want to give what the other person wants to get and vice versa, then it’s a great match and it works. And when it’s not… it’s not that either person is bad… it’s as simple as it not being a match.

Another trap is thinking this guy is “perfect” for you. The fact that he isn’t actually with you is all the proof you need that this isn’t exactly a match written in the stars.

MORE: How to Handle Rejection

2. Don’t give up your life/friends when a guy comes into the picture. I made this mistake when I was in my first really serious relationship. I was a junior in college, I should have been living it up, but instead, I was shacked up with my boyfriend every day and night ordering in pizza and watching marathons of Law and Order: SVU, only leaving the premises for class and maybe the gym once in a blue moon. Most of my friends didn’t approve of my guy (and for very good reasons) and I responded by cutting them all off– if they couldn’t be happy for me then to hell with them!

Then the relationship ended and I have to say, it was the loneliest feeling in the world realizing I had no one to turn to. I eventually swallowed by horse-pill sized pride and groveled my way back, but those relationships took a while to re-build and some just stayed broken. The absolute worst thing you can ever do is abandon the people in your life in favor of a guy. When you’re young and in love for the first time, trading in everything that used to make you happy for a guy you love seems like a small price to pay. In reality, it’s a major sacrifice that brings a lot of consequences, both to your social life and your sense of self.

The fact is, part of what attracted this guy to you was the fact that you had a lot going on in your life. No man wants to be the sole center of a woman’s existence…that’s way too much pressure and is a breeding ground for an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship.

MORE: How to Have a Healthy Relationship

3. Work on yourself…and keep working. A guy is never the missing ingredient in your life. Being in a relationship won’t make you whole,  it won’t heal your pain,  and it won’t give you fulfillment. A good relationship can certainly enhance these areas, but it can never fill that space entirely. Your focus should always be on being your best self and pushing through anything holding you back from getting what you want out of life. The work doesn’t stop when you’re in a relationship. A lot of women view relationships as some sort of finish line or destination and allow themselves to slip into complacency once they’re there.

4. Don’t believe everything guys say. This is by far the biggest area where I would get tripped up, and it’s a problem for most women. Women are more verbal by nature, we say what we feel and usually mean what we say. Guys are a little different. It’s not that men flat out lie, it’s just that they express themselves much more through actions than words. For instance, if a guy is telling you he cares about you, but acting in a way that indicates he couldn’t care less, then the truth is he most likely doesn’t feel that strongly about you. It’s this dichotomy that causes women to feel like men are sending mixed messages.

Personally, I used to cut guys way too much slack for bad behavior and would use the nice things they said as proof that they felt the way I wanted them to feel about me. I would have saved myself a lot of heartache, pain, and energy had I followed the mantra “actions speak louder than words.”

MORE: Why Men Lie
5. Don’t get physical right away.  For one, I really believe the buildup is kind of the best part. Also, holding out on being physical creates more space to develop an emotional connection. Once you bring the physical into the equation, then that is what dominates the relationship. You become more focused on how much you want the other person rather than on whether they’re actually a good match for you. I think getting too physical too soon led me to develop a false feeling of being connected to the guy and I sometimes would mistake a guy wanting to hook up with me as him genuinely liking me (I think most of us get tripped up by this in our high-school/college days). One skill I wish I would have developed a little sooner is that of exercising restraint.

So those are my lessons learned too late. What about you?

{ 6 comments… add one }

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deb

My boyfriend that im living with just told me he is in love with his old girlfriend and wants me to move out asap. I am devastated and floored. I Never saw it coming! how do i leave this with grace and dignity? Right now I am a mess and feeling suicidal, sllep about 2 hours a night, havent eaten anything for days, he doesnt know, He saw me cry once and thats it.This is the 2nd man in 2 years that has done this. I am a pretty petite , usually confident 55 yr old nurse but this is taking its toll me.

Reply December 14, 2014, 1:18 am

Sara

There’s this guy friend of mine who was totally into me like 80% of all the signs listed in every article on the internet match with his behaviour.. We had met at a tuition 3 months before and had started liking each other for only a month. This was back in March ’13 when we were having our exams. The last time I saw him he was all tensed and asked me if I would appear for the exams again, and that he would re-appear (coz he reckoned his didn’t go well.)
After that day he has been out of touch with everyone I know! I sent him a text recently; he didn’t respond again.. I’m just so curious what happened :(

Reply December 30, 2013, 10:16 am

Simmy

Something that was more important to HIM made him withdraw….it could ne absolutely ANYTHING…..your job is to focus on what u now want

Reply January 4, 2014, 12:38 am

Patrice

I learned, If a man say he don’t want a relationship or kids, accept it and move on if you want it. You can’t pressure anyone into accepting or wanting your dreams.

Reply December 19, 2013, 6:07 pm

S.D.B.

How about this addition to “relationship lessons i wish i knew sooner”…

6. Don’t settle for less, thinking that “something” is always better than “nothing.”
Once in a while you just want to have a small fling, also known as “rebound sex,” “summer love,” “friends with benefits” etc. for a limited time with someone “not up to your usual standards”, maybe to help you get over an ex or just to have a casual dating experience with only “fun” as the main focus. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you can put a definite time limit to that “fling.” In other words, you set certain rules/guidelines to it and make sure to stick with them. Hence, you don’t want to continue something that started as “just fun” and try to force it into something else, long past its shelf life.
(key note: occasionally things that start out as “random-casual hook-up with a complete stranger” can really turn into a beneficial relationship where you seem just perfectly matched for one another but this is the rare exception, not the norm).

And believe it or not, this is way easier to do than initially imagined as people tend to get way too comfortable way too easily. Its only human nature to not want to disturb that what’s gotten into a regular routine or formed a habit. In addition to that, women in particular have a pattern of becoming “emotionally attached” to a guy more easily, sometimes without even wanting to (not always our fault either as hormones give a helping hand), forgetting or sometimes consciously avoiding the fact that “under normal circumstances” this guy would never be someone we would consider dating over a long period. However, when you’ve been cast down frequently and/or suffering for a long time it’s easy to start believing that “a little something” (a hook-up) is better than “just nothing” (being single and all alone). So, we settle dating/seeing somebody who is way below our own standards while also deluding ourselves into thinking that he might really love us, when most likely he is sticking around for free sex and/or easy companionship. Not only is this “bad tendency” very damaging to our sense of self-esteem and pride, but it also prevents us from having the freedom and confidence needed to go out there and find ourselves somebody who is truly worthy of us and really loves/cares/honors us in the long run.

Reply December 14, 2013, 3:47 am

Anonymous

what if you lost your friends not because of a new relationship , but because you finally realized they weren’t your true friends after all. The friendships ended not because of your relationship with your boyfriend and not making time for your friends or your friends not approving of them , but you realized the toxic relationships you had with them. My girlfriends were fake , and I was tired of being in the same vicious circle of immature girls who would talk bad about one another behind each other’s backs , and be nice to their face. I am also tired of being left out of plans, and a bunch of empty promises. I’m tired of looking out for them when they couldn’t careless. I’m lucky my boyfriend has been there for me through it all telling me that there’s hope I will make friends who are more mature and real. What if spending all my time with my man because I don’t have any friends ruins my relationship ?

Reply December 12, 2013, 11:20 pm

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