Advice for ALL!!!
Is anyone ever really qualified to give others advice on their relationships? I certainly didn’t feel that way. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was a total heart throb growing up. You should have just seen me in high school. I was a suave young bachelor: 115 pounds soaking wet, 5 foot 7, a mop of hair down to my shoulders that I had no idea how to style, and I barely knew how to talk to anyone outside of the same 3 friends I exclusively hung out with. I just barely missed the nod for Teen Vogue cover star.
I think my initial reluctance to knowing any good advice about relationships came from still seeing myself as that same scrawny kid, doe eyed and not knowing the first thing about dating. I think many of us still see ourselves where we started out. But if there is a first piece of advice I would give, it would be to trust the path you’ve been on that gave you the experience to find the person you are with right now (or the next person, for all of you bachelors out there).
I’m 23 now, and I’ve experienced a bit more in love than I ever would in high school. It helped that I finally learned how hair works and I wear more than graphic t-shirts now. I got thrown right into the wild world of young adult dating at 18, and managed to bumble my way through a few mistakes and a few lessons that I can only hope can help other men in some small way. I’ve fallen in love, or at least thought I did, several times. I’ve also gotten my heart broken a few times too. I’ve lived with a partner, and thought I would marry her, only to learn that sometimes you’re not meant to be with someone forever and that’s okay.
I’m in the best relationship of my life now, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in this world. But it took a whole lot more than a haircut and the ability to walk into bars to get here. I don’t want to call this advice or tips, because I’m still learning how love works every day just like everyone giving advice on it is too. These are the lessons I have learned the hard way in my time, so that hopefully you don’t have to.
Don’t Suck It Up
Regardless of your orientation, as a man it can be incredibly easy to bottle up issues and not let them out. Mental health and emotional needs have long been internally stigmatized as “weakness” in men. We are told to suck it up, and “be a man,” as if not ever letting anything appear to bother you on the surface is manly. Sometimes, we close ourselves off emotionally to our partner without even realizing it. We get our feelings hurt or have a rough patch mentally and just assume that keeping it to ourselves is the better option to avoid confrontation or appear “strong” in this way. Don’t make yourself a victim of this. Your partner is there to help you take on those burdens, and if it’s something they did that hurt you, that is especially something that shouldn’t be bottled up because it can come out in unintentional ways later. Be open with your partner, and talk about the points in your relationship and your life that affect you. Having this trust is only going to make you more comfortable with your partner and yourself.
Team Sports Aren’t for Ball Hogs
Relationships are a two way street. You can’t make every decision about yourself, because that’s one of the fastest tracks to a relationship ending. If you’re going to be with someone long term, then they have to know that you are going to be just as concerned with them as you are with yourself, and vice versa. You can do in this small ways, like giving up something you want to do for a date that they really want to go on. Showing your partner that you are willing to sacrifice for them goes along way when you’re with someone who does the same for you. But being a ball hog and making the relationship more about you is going to show them that the life decisions you would have to make down the line are going to be much the same.
Look Out the Window, Not in the Mirror
When you’re dating someone, or even just have a close relationship with someone, it can be easy to form this elevated image of them in their head. Because you want someone to be a certain way in your mind, you start attributing aspects to their personality or expecting actions that aren’t there all of the time or maybe not even at all. I like to call this looking at someone through a mirror. You’re seeing more of yourself and your expectations than you are the actual human being. In a relationship, this can mean not fully understanding your partner’s emotions or getting overly disappointed when they naturally make a mistake. But if you look at your partner as another flawed human just like you, rather than an image you may have of them in your head, you can allow yourself to be more forgiving and work together to resolve your issues on more equal ground.
The Shoes Have to Fit Before You Tie the Knot
This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn personally, because I almost did not learn this lesson at all. It can be hard to hurt someone. No good person wants to hurt anyone, especially someone they love or have loved. An unfortunate amount of people have stayed with someone they are not really happy with all the way up to marriage due to fear, whether that be fear of being alone or fear of hurting the other person. But take it from me, sometimes the best relationship advice you can receive is not be in that relationship anymore. It’s better to handle the emotional pain now to save yourself and them from much greater pain down the line. If you’re not happy and they’re not happy, and it’s not just a rough patch, then sometimes, the best answer is to move on from each other, even if maybe that move is only temporary.
A House Is Only As Strong
I know it’s a cliché that’s been said a million times but really, it is true. Find your best friend, and hold onto that. There are plenty of relationships that have all the chemistry in the world when it comes to interests, attraction, sex, career goals, emotions, the whole 9 yards. But if you don’t have a solid foundation of true and loving friendship, then the really hard times are going to be much harder to ride out through. Find someone you never get tired of coming home to, that you can laugh and cry with harder than any other time, that you see yourself always growing with but never losing the same warm comfort that you’ve always had. As hard as it may seem, it comes to you, and that best friend connection is something you never think twice about grabbing onto and keeping close always.