Honesty

Rule #52- Getting Off The Sidelines (and Going on a Date)

Via National Maritime Museum, Magnus Manske

Just like when knowing someone is worthwhile and a good match for you, and you can just feel that tingly feeling in your bloodstream when they walk into the room, it’s also important to make the distinction who NOT to date. Or more importantly WHEN not to date.

On the one hand, there is a lot of pressure if you are single to date. Because maybe, just maybe, the next blind date you go on will turn out to be the one. Now, I’m not saying that they won’t; just that sometimes you might feel pressured into going out on dates you don’t really want to be on, with people you don’t really want to be with. Worse yet, you might convince yourself, for any number of reasons, to give people a chance – just one more date, and one more – when they aren’t really right for you.

The problem is finding a balance between not dating at all, and not getting “out of shape”.

Well, dating isn’t exactly a muscle, but it does  require exercise and growth. If you never go out on dates, or form relationships while waiting around for Mr. or Miss Right (that person who will be the right fit for YOU), how will you know what to do – hell, or what to look for when they come along? The fairy tales that nourished our mind’s as children perpetuated this myth that when the right person magically appears, everything will just fall into place. But what we tend to ignore is that fighting the dragon was a hell of a hard job.

The only way to build a relationship is with a lot of hard work. The only way to know if the relationship isn’t working for you,  or if this person isn’t working for you, or if the dynamic  between the two of you is just not right, is experience! And unfortunately for us, experience demands quite a bit of sweat, tears and heartache!

While some lessons are best learned the hard way (you hopefully won’t repeat mistakes that burned you the first time around after you refused to heed the sage advice of others), This may be of help:

1. Don’t date unless you feel like putting the effort into this person. Because if you don’t feel like investing your time in them to “see where it can go”, there really isn’t any point in starting something up. Mostly because this isn’t fair to them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give people a chance, but if you do decide to give things a go, then do it properly.

Sometimes. it’s also important to recognize potential. If you meet someone special, or have a click with someone new, give it a chance and see where it goes. It might not work out, but you will have learned something new. Every interaction, be it good or bad, teaches us something, provided we are able to look deeply into ourselves and the relationship and reflect on it. And I promise you this (cliche warning) – when that someone does come along, you will be glad that you learned all those lessons beforehand.

2. Don’t go on a date with someone you intend to dump at the end of the evening!  Whatever your motive is, pity, pressure from your mum or even the prospect of a free dinner, just don’t.

3. Go on dates with people you feel you already have things to talk about, or in common. If you already have a good starting point, be it attraction or things in common, there is probably a greater chance it isn’t going to be a complete waste of an evening.

4. The less you get out, the more you are not going to want to go out. Because let’s face it, the thought of staying in your warm bed with a hot water bottle, and all the episodes of the shows you haven’t  caught up on, is way  more tempting than having to make small talk with a stranger. But you have to break this cycle! It’s time to stop dating your laptop (even though it may very well be better company than your prospective date) and go out!

5. Maybe it’s time to un-friend zone that really cute guy/girl that you have been constantly flirting with for months (or just admit they were never really in the friend zone to begin with)! You already know you have tons to talk about and that you will both have a good time. You probably shouldn’t come to this decision lightly (not to mention out of desperation), but it’s probably worth considering.

6. Learn to open up more to people. Not dating for ages will probably make you suspicious of new people, and make it harder to open up to them, connect on a deeper level and form a relationship. My advice is to make some new friends as an exercise, or open up more to your old ones; it’s important you learn how to trust again, even if you were hurt in the past. You need to learn to be vulnerable with people, because let’s be honest, it’s vulnerability that is the basis of a good relationship.

7. Go out with friends more! No I don’t mean necessarily to pubs and dancing, but rather to social events. House parties, concerts, singles mixers in the religious denomination of your choice. There is a much higher chance that you will run into new people with whom you have more in common if you already share a social circle, community or some interests, like God or your favorite band.

8. Reclaim your mojo!  Chances are that if you haven’t been on a date in a while you probably don’t feel all that secure about the whole thing, so do something to reconnect with yourself. Try salsa dancing or yoga or buy that new dress or those new shoes you’ve been salivating over, imagining how jaw-droppingly good you would look in them. Getting in touch with your body, or just plain pampering yourself, will make you feel much more confident in you – and by extension, with that special someone.

9. Sometimes it really isn’t a good time to start a new relationship (stress from work/family issue and so forth). It’s perfectly fin to put your foot down and tell your pestering  aunts (yes, even the ones that only exist in your head), that now is not the time to start something new, because you just don’t have the emotional and mental capacity for it. That said, “I’m focusing on myself/my career at the moment” is sometimes not just an excuse we give to someone we’re trying to blow off, but a line we may be constantly repeating to ourselves in order to avoid putting ourselves out there.

You just have to accept that part of dating is risking getting hurt, but that isn’t an excuse not to try! 

Rule #51- Sleeping it Off

via perumalism, Till Krech

I’ve decided to examine this seemingly agreed-upon idea that states that one should never go to bed angry. That the key to a happy well-rounded relationship is that all pending drama be resolved before one’s head hits the pillow.

The only problem with this seemingly good advice is that switching off your angry button just before bed can be easier said than done — in which case, we are told to just sleep it off. For example, some of us can never fall asleep when they are cross (because we obsessively replay the fight in our heads until sleep is impossible) and the fact that when you go to bed angry there is a very large possibility that you will also wake up angry (if not angrier, because you were deprived of half the night’s sleep due to a loop of possible arguments you forgot to make the night before, and find yourself completely entrenched in your position by morning).

So, is sleeping it off really the best way of cooling off after a fight, or is talking things through before bed the better strategy?

1. The arguments got really heated, moreover you are really tired because it’s been a shitty long day, you didn’t have time to eat dinner and your usually wonderful other half has pissed you off. What could be a better end to this catastrophically long day?

You decide to go to bed and you wake up in the morning, and you partner looks all refreshed but you still feel like crap. Just because you both went to sleep “to cool the argument off” doesn’t mean it’s over, and even if one of you feels better in the morning, it doesn’t necessarily mean you both slept off last night’s hot tempers.

The fact that you went to bed doesn’t actually mean the argument is over, and it doesn’t mean you both feel better about the things you’d argued about. You know yourself and hopefully your partner as well, so think about it before you call it a night. Maybe you had better talk things through so you can go to bed semi-calm and not go to work the next day with an argument hangover.

2. Maybe the reason you picked a fight in the first place was because you were so pissed off after your long disgusting day and were just taking it out on your SO? If this is the case, maybe it would better to get some sleep rather than talk it out, because maybe after a few hours of slumber you might decide that the fact he forgot to pick up milk (even though you won’t be able to make a coffee in the morning to nurse your dire caffeine addiction) isn’t the end of the world and you can pick one up on the go.

That said, if it’s a much bigger fight than just blowing off steam at each other, sleep is probably not going to make one iota of difference, so it’s probably best NOT to put off any serious conversations until the morning.

3. Also, it’s quite likely your partner doesn’t realize you are probably just half mad at him and half really really tired. Not to mention they are probably all confused as to why you went all mental on them over something that small. This is why it’s important to be sensitive to each other: perhaps you should decide beforehand that if one of you comes home exceptionally pissed off from work, you tell the other person you just need some quiet time and then go into the other room and just watch some telly while binge eating biscuits (or something like that). Just tell your partner what you need after a rough day (in advance if possible), i.e. food/a hug/space. That way you guys can be more attentive to each other’s needs and preempt some unnecessary fighting.

4. If you do decide to go to bed, try not to be all passive aggressive about the whole thing, maybe avoid saying things like “I just can’t stand to look at you right now so I’m going to sleep.” Try something more along the lines of: “I’m just really tired and can’t think straight, so maybe we should talk about this after we’ve both had some sleep.”

5. Physical contact helps soften your temper (no, I don’t mean sex). Try cuddling, or holding hands, or some forms of contact that will help bridge the void you’ve created that runs down the middle of the bed.

6. If you had a fight, finished the fight, and are still all wired up on the one hand, but really physically and mentally exhausted on the other, maybe try and do something fun to wind down. Share a tub of ice-cream, watch and episode of some TV show you both like. You know, something fun and PG-13.

Bottom line is this, it doesn’t matter when you talk things threw as long as you do. Get to know each other, when it’s important to talk, and when it’s better to just back off and cool down (possibly for eight hours with your eyes shut).

Rule #49- Phone a Friend

via c. kennedy garrett, carelessly growing away from you

Ages ago I wrote a post  on why you shouldn’t overshare every little personal detail about your relationship with your friends. But it hadn’t occurred to me then that the reverse is also true: undersharing can be just as big a problem as oversharing.

Because there are those of us out there who are too shy/embarrassed, or for whatever other reason don’t talk about things that probably should be talked about.

In these cases, it’s usually postmortem that things start coming out.

Suddenly, after a break-up, you decide it’s alright to start talking about those problems you were incapable of voicing while you two were still and item. You start telling your friends about all the crap you went through during the relationship, and all the red flags you were too blind to see.

So, why SHOULD you talk to people about your relationship issues?

1. They are your friends, and have a vested interest in your well-being! (One would hope).

They care about what you’re going through and usually want to help. Even if they can’t offer you any productive advice, sometimes it’s great to just have someone take the time to listen.

Moreover, sometimes, just saying things out loud makes us see them differently and think about them in a new light.

2. They too have relationship experience! You don’t have to take their advice, but sometimes people can bring up points that are worth mulling over. New angles that hadn’t even occurred to us.

Maybe they went through exactly the same thing a few years ago and have some great input. Maybe they were too embarrassed to tell you about something similar that happened to them earlier because they thought YOU wouldn’t understand.

3. You know that feeling you get when you’re in love with someone, that you’re the only two people in the world?! (The bad kind, where you think no one else has ever gone though this, and no-one can possibly ever understand you?!). Well you ain’t! And it helps to know someone else has been exactly where you are, and got through it.

4. Your love-goggles might be on so firmly that you can’t  see the situation for what it is!

That’s why it’s important to introduce the person you are dating to your friends and family, they might be able to point out things you are too giddy with love (and hormones) to notice.

Sometimes, the people around us are just a little bit more objective, and can offer you an outsider’s opinion. Trust me, they aren’t trying to sabotage your relationship, they just care (unless of course they are, and then you might be better off with a therapist’s opinion).

5. If you’re scared to tell your friends about what’s going on in your relationship, you either have to find new friends that you trust not to judge you, or ask yourself why you’re afraid to tell them what’s going on.

If you’re too scared to hear the truth from someone else, then maybe you should be asking yourself if this person you are dating is good for you.

If you’ve found yourself at the point that you feel you need to hide what goes on behind closed doors from those people in your life that care about you most, maybe the relationship is what needs reconsidering. 

That said. Don’t forget that they are just that, not a part of the relationship, and you should take their advice with a pinch of good sense.

6. That said, take other people’s advice! If you’ve asked for it, and everyone has told you to dump your cabbage head girlfriend/boyfriend, they probably didn’t all have a secret meeting behind your back to gang up on you, they probably just see something that you can’t. Don’t ignore them! 

At the end of the day we all need support, and sometimes support from the person you’re dating (even if they are the most wonderful, loving and caring person in the world) isn’t always what you need. Your friends and family have been there for you consistently through every good and bad thing in life. If you shut them out of your relationship you’re basically snubbing your emotional safety-net, and come on, everybody needs to know they have an emotional safety-net, just in case things don’t work out. 

Rule #48- Milestones

Stones

Every relationship is composed of hundreds of different little milestones.

The first time you kiss, your first fight, the first time you realize that you’re in love with this whole other person.

The first time they discoverer you spend most of your free time writing a dating blog. You know, those run-of-the-mill milestones that mark every relationship.

But what WE perceive as important events, might be slightly different to what the person we are dating sees as important. After all, you both come with a lot of relationship baggage, and one can’t assume all expectations align off the bat. 

So, in order to avoid monumental misunderstandings try: 

1. Not everybody has the same idea of what constitutes a milestone.

Some people like to celebrate every little thing, and others are less sentimental. If your girlfriend wants to have a romantic dinner to celebrate every month you two have been together (you started dating four years ago) LET HER. What’s the harm?

If you think it’s too much, talk about it and find a compromise that suits you both. Maybe suggest an evening at home with a bottle of wine. Usually the gesture is what counts.

2. Accept that the person you are dating might see certain things as a bigger deal than you. Meaning, that just because you don’t think the anniversary of the first time you kissed is important, but they do, humor them! That’s what relationships are all about, accepting someone else’s little quirks.

Moreover, they want to mark these things because the relationship is important to them! Not because they want to bankrupt you.

YOU are important to them! That’s just how some people like to show it.

Making fun of someone just because they wanted to do something nice to mark the anniversary of the first time they sent you a message on FaceBook is highly counter-productive to the relationship, they will just resent you for it. They only bought you the flowers because FOR THEM it was something worth remembering, and as their partner you should get on-bored.

Yes, no matter how silly it seems to you. Sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet because it’s important to someone who is important to you.

3. Talk about things ahead of time in order to avoid situations in which you were expected to have planed something and forgot/ didn’t know you were supposed to.

Didn’t think he was going to be devastated you didn’t book a spa day for your six month anniversary?! You should have talked about whether or not you were planning to celebrate it and how.

In no way is it an awkward conversation, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes, Just talk discuss it.

That said, that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise them with something nice. Just because they said they didn’t want to do anything doesn’t mean you can’t do something for them. Just don’t go OVER THE TOP. 

4. If a certain date/life event/anniversary of something is coming up, don’t just drop passive-aggressive hints! 

Be upfront and clear that you would like to do something special to mark it.

On the downside you might not be surprised by the giant muffin basket and card on your front doorstep. But on the upside, you won’t get disappointed either (and end up fighting).

5. Celebrating things is fun! If anniversaries are too mainstream for you, find some other important occasion in your joint life that is worth commemorating.

It’s basically just an excuse to take a couple of hours out of your day-to-day routine to remember why you kinda of like each other in the first place.

Rule #46- Keeping the Faith

Praying_couple_@_Shwedagon_(4361022275)

via Roger Price, Fæ

I think these days researchers categorize religious disagreements as “unresolvable conflicts.”  I’m not sure to what extent I agree with this statement. But there is definitely something to be discussed as far as relationships go.

Can we date someone seriously who has religious beliefs different from our own? Or is it a non-issue and I’m just old fashioned?

I most certainly can’t call myself religious  I’m probably traditional at best, but I honestly can’t see myself dating someone of a different religion. Not because I believe god will revoke my pass into heaven, but rather because tradition and faith are so fundamentally part of my personality that I have trouble imagining myself living with someone who has a whole different set of them.

I sometimes wonder if maybe I’ve got it all backwards.  Maybe it’s enough that he believes in democracy, and he respects my place as a modern working woman. Maybe all those strange traditions that my ancestors  passed down to me are only secondary to my liberal modern upbringing.

Or are they?

I mean, at the end of the day I love celebrating the holidays. I want to keep those old traditions alive even when I have saved up enough to finally own my own house (fingers crossed that too will happen someday. That is, when I give up teaching, and get a job that actually pays).

So can it work?

I’ve decide to bring in back-up. 

This section was written by a friend of the blogger’s, who is from a secular-but-traditional family and in a happy relationship with a person whose beliefs and religious affiliation differ from hers, and thinks she knows a thing or two about dealing with the “religion issue” — that sometimes painful wedge that exists between the two of you when it comes to matters of faith, culture and tradition.

Back to “Can it work?”: that’s a trick question. When you’re just dating a person, religion isn’t as likely to come up and be a real problem. But when you get more serious about someone and bring them home to meet your parents (and grandparents), you’re bound to start asking yourself the “religion question”, and your significant other might be too.

But this question can have many different answers. If your family’s so traditional and if you belong to such a tight-knit community that you know the two of you won’t be able to be together unless you elope or even cut ties with your loved ones, you might want to come to terms with the fact that your relationship has an expiration date (or, well, just elope).

Bear in mind that being in a relationship your parents are adamant about not accepting will put a heavy strain on you, on your relationship and on your partner, who will want to share your pain. It might prove very difficult to cope without your parents’ moral and financial support, your mother’s hugs and your father’s advice (and occasional proud gaze). Worst of all, should your partner decide not to stick around, you’ll be left all alone to nurse your heartbreak with a healthy dose of “I told you so’s.”

This also depends on your partner’s religious orientation: if he’s technically of your religion but an atheist or of another caste, your parents might eventually come ‘round. If one of his parents is of your religion, your parents might eventually warm to him. If he’s of a different religion but you both share the same values, outlook or philosophy of life, you may have a chance. If he’s of a different religion but of the same culture, or moved to your country at a young age, it may well work, even if he’s of a different religion (my boyfriend and I are an example of this). But if he’s a devout Catholic from Poland and you’ve been raised as a devout Sikh from the Punjab, it might not work out so well for the two of you – because of cultural and religious differences alike. (Remember how in My Big Fat Greek Weddingthe protagonists were both Christians, but one was Greek Orthodox while the other wasn’t? And even after the groom agreed to become Greek Orthodox, the bride’s father still felt betrayed, because the groom wasn’t culturally/ethnically Greek?)

If, on the other hand, your parents are less religious, or more open, there’s a chance that they’ll accept your partner with open arms, even if you have to deal with a rocky start in the first few weeks. If your parents raised you in a secular and liberal home and they still don’t accept your boyfriend, you should ask yourself if maybe the religious issue is not at the heart of their rejection. For example, they may be wary of accepting him because they believe the religious differences preclude the possibility of your building a happy and harmonious home together, and if you convince them that you share the same values, they’ll accept your partner. (Of course, it’s possible that they just think he’s a jerk.)

Or perhaps they think the religious differences belie even bigger cultural differences, in which case you have to ask yourself if these differences are surmountable. Or perhaps they worry about your legal status: will you be able to marry this man legally in your country, and will you be entitled to full rights as a married couple? Does your country have civil marriage? Does your religious denomination recognize mixed marriages? What will the status of your children be?

If you haven’t asked yourself these questions yet, you may find that they are crucial to figuring out if there’s a chance for the two of you – and they’re probably the questions running through your parents’ head, and the reason for their objection to your union.

Under what conditions can it work?

First of all, religion can be many things. It can be  a set of childhood memories of holidays or the name you were given by your parents, but not necessarily something that has had a real impact on you growing up.

Or it can be an integral part of your identity, be it because you want to keep your family’s traditions or because you yourself have a close connection to God. If you are a spiritual person and feel that you share a spiritual affinity with your significant other despite the religious differences, you’ll probably be fine. If religion means little to the both of you but you share the same world-view, you’ll be ok also. And if religion to you is an amalgam of traditions and rituals you want your children (and spouse) to be part of, you have to make sure your significant other is willing to respect that (bear in mind that you will probably have to respect and even keep his own traditions in return – are you willing to change your lifestyle and do that?).

If the question of conversion arises and it becomes clear that the relationship cannot proceed without it, ask yourselves which one of you should convert and why, and what it will require of you as individuals and a couple. If you ask him to convert, will your partner feel like you can’t accept him as he is, that you need him to change too much? Will it alienate and hurt him and tear the two of you apart? Will it turn you into Marta and him into the Baron Münchhausen (an analogy my boyfriend and I often use when discussing this hot topic)? If so, just let it go.

Sometimes the “religion issue” can interfere in the bedroom as well — sometimes being brought up in a particular faith will shape the way we think about sex. For example, you may be all for abstinence, while he might expect sex way before the wedding night. He may have had a wild past, while you may have been “saving yourself”. You may have been brought up in a strict community that segregates men and women, while he may have lost his virginity at 13. You may have been brought up to get married early, while he may be planning to keep his bachelor pad at least until his 35th birthday. You may be pro-choice while he may be pro-life. These are extreme examples, but many interfaith couples are bound to encounter the “grey areas” of having differing (sometimes conflicting) opinions about sex. This is best solved by talking about it. If you’re disappointed that he’s not on the same page as you are where sex is concerned, don’t hide it from him — he might not even have realized.

Basically, it will only work if the two of you learn to accept each other’s religious traditions AND world-view. You should be accepting, mature and strong enough, and have enough resolve, to stay together even if one or both of you become a bit more religious, or show more signs of wanting to keep religious traditions.

What can you do to make it work?

1. Read and learn about your partner’s religion (and culture!) and have him read about yours – not on Wikipedia. Real books and stuff. Even THE books (the Bible, Qur’an…). Ask your partner questions about his religion, surprise him with facts you read that he might not know, try to figure out how he sees his religion and try to see it through his eyes. Ignorance isn’t sexy, and won’t endear you to his family or community either.

2. Try to find the points your religions have in common, in spirit if not in practice.

3. Try to see his religion in a positive light — you might find that some traditions seem beautiful to you, and you might want to experience them yourself with his family (and someday, with yours).

4. Be frank with each other and tell each other what you will and won’t give up, and which traditions you insist on keeping. In other words: set limits, and respect each other’s limits.

5. Don’t ask each other to make major changes as an ultimatum for staying together.

6. Don’t badmouth each other’s religion, culture, parents and upbringing as a way of trying to deal with the differences between you. Don’t keep your significant other from keeping his/her traditions, don’t put obstacles in the way of their faith.

7. Don’t turn your discussions into a contest of which religion is better. If you can’t accept that the person closest to you doesn’t believe what you believe, you’re better off apart. (Especially when there are kids in the picture — don’t entice them to choose your religion over your spouse’s, and don’t make them choose one religion just to prove a point.)

8. Try not to antagonize your parents to the point of breaking contact, and definitely don’t put on dramatic and rebellious airs of the type you were notorious for when you were sixteen. Try to understand their point of view. You’re not Romeo and Juliet, and your parents are not evil. HOWEVER, don’t let them insult your partner or his religion, don’t let them stereotypify him. Stand up to them. Have them get to know your partner, and if that doesn’t help matters, just keep on standing up to them.

Be prepared for the possibility that like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, your parents will conclude that that “on the other hand, there is no other hand” and never speak to you again. This is probably a very rare occurrence in real life (even in the most closed religious communities many parents sneak out to meet with their excommunicated children), unless you’re a pogrom-stricken Jew and decide to shack up with a village Cossack. Anyway, keep this in mind — any other reaction on your parents’ part will seem like a blessing in comparison…

9. Try to be understanding of your partner if they find the religious issue difficult to handle or fail to realize how significant religion is (or isn’t) to you. Try to explain things in a calm and composed manner.

10. Don’t turn religion into a weapon you can use against your partner, or a place to retreat to when you want to hide from them. Don’t hurt them deliberately by pushing them away.

11. Try to find out what your religion says about mixed marriages. Maybe talk to a clergyman or layperson your trust. Perhaps your religion allows intermarriage without conversion? There are several religions that do.

12. Never say never. Don’t assume tradition will never matter to you, and don’t tell your significant other as much (“I swear, I’ll never care about religion, it will never come between us!”). Sometimes when people start a family they want to pass certain traditions on to their children, so don’t deny that this is a possibility. Discuss it honestly, preferably before the time comes to pass traditions on.

Rule #45- Meeting The Apartment

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There comes a time in every relationship when you meet your significant other’s significant other- their flat.

Now don’t get me wrong, this requires very little to no effort on your part (well, maybe stash a toothbrush in your purse/coat pocket just to be on the safe side).

For such occasions I have a little prayer. I prey that his apartment doesn’t look like a crack den, that my date had the common decency to tidy up the place, and hide his porn. That there is a role of toilet paper in the bathroom (you know what some men are like when they’ve been living alone for too long). I hope that there are clean sheets on the bed (and for that matter, that he has a bed, and not some mattress on the floor).

Honestly, the list goes on, but the bottom line is this. I judge. We all judge, and it is really hard to get a second chance at a first impression.

Just like we expect one another to make a little effort to clean up for a first date, we expect the person we are seeing to make their flat presentable when we see it for the first time.

But it goes both ways.

Don’t be THE PERSON who’s place looks like it’s come alive out of an episode of hoarders.

Rules for Apartment-Scaping:

1. First of all, read this brilliant blog-post, it will teach you how to make your home date-friendly within ten minutes.

2. Follow rule #1 and clean up! You don’t have to light scented candles and strategically place quantum mechanics & philosophy books to impress your date.

But you SHOULD make sure the place is clean and tidy.

This will make a good first impression.

3. We all have jobs/studies/time consuming hobbies/friends/pets, and other responsibilities.

No one expects you to keep your place spotless and immaculate at all times, you don’t live in an Ikea catalog! But basic hygiene isn’t too much to ask for (lets face it, no one is going to want to have sex with you for the first time if your bed-sheets are covered in suspicious stains…)

You know, deal with the mold in the shower, change the sheets, wash your towels, & for heavens sake, clean the toilet and kitchen!

4. The real problem with having too much stuff, and having it all over the place, is that it makes someone new feel like there is no room for them.

Remember all those photos with your ex in Bali? The ones you’ve been meaning to take down for months? Maybe this is a great opportunity to do it.

Just like we try and unclutter ourselves emotionally before a new relationship, uncluttering our house is equally as important!

Make room for your someone new.

Rule #44- Syncing Up

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First of all I would like to apologize for my somewhat long absence. I decided to take an impromptu holiday in Switzerland, Germany & France. I know, it’s a rough life I lead.

In between giant pretzels covered in cheese, cheap beer, and hot chocolate, my mind started wandering back to the lovely man I had left at home. We still aren’t at that stage of taking whirlwind holidays in Europe together.

But I still had to make sure to set aside some time to send him reassuring emails that I hadn’t allowed the temptation of French pastries to go to my head and cause me to forget about him.

The trip was amazing, but I don’t get much time off, and I used up all of it getting slightly buzzed on cheese. Which was a bit of a shame, because it meant that we didn’t get to spend almost any of it together when I got back.

I rationalized that although this was a shame, it wasn’t really my fault because I had bought the ticket before we had started dating.

That said, we are now at that stage where we have to start taking into account the other’s schedule when planning our week, which can get a little sticky, because we are both horrifically busy ALL the time.

So, here are some (hopefully) useful tips in schedule syncing:

1. Set aside some time over the weekend and discuss your upcoming week! 

Naturally, there are always things that will change midweek, but taking the time to go over your schedules is a good way to show you care about what’s going on in each other’s lives.

It also has the added benefit of insuring that you find the time to see each other over the week.

2. Which leads me to; make sure to MAKE TIME to see each other. 

If per chance you are dating someone who refuses to do this. Who only wants to ‘play things by ear’ (even if it means not seeing you at all “because things didn’t work out”), it’s about time you decide if this is someone who really has room in their life for you (or more importantly, if you have room in your life for someone who is selfish with their time). 

3. Even if you have a crazy busy insane week try and find a way to stay involved.

Even if you don’t have the time to go out, show up for a sleep over. Sometimes having a nice cuddle before falling asleep helps alleviate a little of the day’s stress. Also, try and ad some conversation into your night-time routine.

Whether it’s just to stay updated because you are genuinely interested in this other human being you are dating. Or whether it’s because knowing there is someone to listen to what a horrible day you had is why you even bother with dating in the first place.

4. Never EVER make big plans (like weekends away, holiday plans and so on) without talking about them. Not cool. 

Also, if possible, try phrasing things this way: “hey darl’n, so the guys all really want to go away on a spa retreat this weekend, I’m thinking of joining them.” As apposed to just announcing that you’re going.

You aren’t asking for permission, you are showing that you are taking their plans into consideration as well as yours (and not only because you need a ride to the airport).

5. If you have to cancel plans last minute (this really boils my blood when people do it), first of all, don’t. 

But if you really have to: A. make sure that you have a good reason. B. Make sure this isn’t something you do often (or expect a relationship termination letter heading your way). C. apologize profusely for it! 

When you cancel remember that you are also screwing up someone else’s plans! There are two of you in this relationship.

I’m the last person that will tell you that being in a relationship means you have to do EVERYTHING together. In fact, I’m quite for having your own lives and interests. But you should take the time to be interested in the person you’re dating. That means talking to them before booking a long weekend away with the girls. And making a conscious effort to set aside time during the week to see them.

Rule #41- The ‘I’m Not Sure If This Is A Date’ Date

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via Joxemai

Let me set the scene for you (because we’ve all been in it, at the very least once or twice in our adult lives).

You’ve arranged to ‘hang out’ with someone; It’s most likely evening, there is alcohol on the table, and the sexual tension is buzzing around almost tangibly (at least you think it is… isn’t it?!). You really like them, but because of the nature of the encounter, you’re not sure if the feeling is mutual.

I think this has only happened to me twice, and both times it was confusing and rather agitating. Especially, when it comes to working out if someone is into us ‘that way’ or not.

So what can you do about it?

1. Most of these errors happen because we aren’t sure if the other person is interested in us (sometimes I wish humans could read each other’s minds, and then I remember what a god awful idea that would be). Therefore, we need to investigate things a little further.

Not that I’m against treading lightly. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that’s what a FIRST DATE is for. When you define the activity as a date, the boundaries are clear, you both know where things stand. You’ve both agreed to get a drink and see if there is ‘something there’. 

Just don’t let yourself end up in ambiguous situations! If someone says “let’s hang out next Friday!”,  Just go out on a limb and ask “like on a date?!” .

Things might not work out romantically, but at least you are both on the same page. 

2. Fear not, if you do find yourself in this unfortunate situation, there are a few ways to get out of it.

For starters, you can always be blunt and ask them (the worst that can happen is that you will end up realizing it was an awkward misunderstanding, that you can either laugh off, or end the evening prematurely with the most uncomfortable hug ever). Or you can go for plan B (this is what I usually do): show you are interested! I’ve fondly named plan B. flirt your bum off.”

3. They may not be into you at all. People flirt for so many different reasons; to make themselves feel good, they genuinely think they are just being nice (and really didn’t mean to flirt at all), they want something from you (not necessarily sexually); the possibilities are endless! 

My rule is, if I’m not sure, I either reciprocate to show I’m interested and, see where it goes – or let it go and move on.

4. If you aren’t interested in the other person, and you think you may be on a date, make it CLEAR that it isn’t a date. You don’t have to phrase it that way, you can tactfully slip it into the conversation, but make sure that they know you’re not interested. 

(Try and do this ahead of time on the phone. Make it clear up front that it’s a hang out as ‘just friends’, and try not to wind up in the most ‘couply’ spot in town).

The best relationships often grow out of friendships. Just don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the ‘does he/she like me?’ limbo! Because it’s frustrating as all hell.

Rule #38- Exclusivity

via Hanh Dung – Son, Bùi Linh Ngân

A few years ago I took a short trip to New York (City). In-between Broadway and cocktails, my host, a friend from back home, admitted how difficult she found dating in the city.

She was used to dating one person at a time, and having exclusivity a given from the get-go. This new concept, of dating a few people simultaneously, was a foreign concept to her.

Which made me wonder, what guarantees us exclusivity?! Going out a couple of times, dating for a month, maybe even three,  having sex on a regular basis, only once, ‘I love you’s’?! (and let’s not forget those wonderful people who just completely neglect to notify their significant others that they don’t believe in monogamy). At what point is it SAFE TO ASSUME you’re the only one? At what point is the OTHER PERSON the only one?

What do you do when there is such a fine line between cheating and ‘still seeing other people’?! 

I have to say that I spend copious amounts of time pondering this rather daunting  question, and I’ve reached the conclusion that there is no social convention as to when one should adopt monogamous relationship patterns. 

Isn’t it wonderful, how there is just no social consensus on this sticky matter? (where are ironclad dating laws when you need them?!)

So how does one deal with this rather awkward situation? 

1. I feel like if you’ve gone out with someone more than a couple of times (let’s say three for us indecisive types), you do it because you are interested in them. You aren’t necessarily picking out a band for your wedding just yet, but you are interested in pursuing something. 

If you do see a future, STOP hedging your bets! Sometimes it’s a good idea to risk everything for a higher return. The more you are willing to invest in the person you just started dating, the more you will stand to gain from the relationship. Taking a risk is a good thing, and with relationships, you have to take a chance on someone else if you want things to go somewhere. 

2. TALK TO THE PERSON YOU ARE DATING! If you feel there is something there, ask them if the relationship is exclusive, or tell them you want it to be. Never assume anything these days! (because everyone has a different idea on the subject). Some people, because that is what is acceptable in their circles, won’t stop seeing or even sleeping with other people unless you define the relationship as exclusive. 

3. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable if the other person found out you were still seeing/sleeping with other people… If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t want them to find out, then you are de facto hiding it from them. In which case…

Make a decision! Either stop messing around, or break it off with the person you are seeing, because it isn’t fair to anyone involved! 

Communications 101

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I love reading and proofreading this blog (the admin is not only one witty chick, she’s also a ‘creative’ speller), but I wasn’t sure I was up for writing a guest post. In our social circle, I’m usually known as the introverted one, the inexperienced one. I’ve never had a successful “first date”.  My relationships tend to grow out of existing friendships. So what advice could I possibly give?

I’m here to talk to you about something I’ve gotten to know pretty intimately from a relationship perspective. Not so much from a dating perspective, but I know that it’s just as important when you’re dating. It may even be a deciding factor in choosing whether or not to continue dating a person. I’m referring, of course, to communication — the same ability that was so uniquely well-developed among the early humans that it enabled them to conquer the animal world. Unfortunately, today we don’t give our ability to communicate due credit. Sometimes we even neglect it, causing the building blocks of our social and romantic lives to fall apart.

My boyfriend and I got together several months ago after two years of close friendship. We waited so long because all the odds were, and still are, against us – we differ in everything from religion and cultural background to sexual experience and history. But we are the same where it matters – in our hearts and in our behavior toward each other, which reflects the kind of commitment, stability and security (not to mention good humor) our relationship requires to surmount the many obstacles blocking its path.

We know that if we’re going to build a relationship and keep it going despite the heavy external pressure and high stakes, neither of us can afford to up the ante and add internal pressure to the mix by playing games with each other. We have to be as transparent as possible whenever we communicate (which, ideally, should be often) — without false pretenses. Whenever I put on airs, hide things from him or tell “white lies,” my bf calls me out on it. I appreciate and admire him for that.

Despite the impulse to cut corners, it’s best to be true to yourself and honest to others in all your relationships — with friends, and even with acquaintances. This will make others see you as credible and trustworthy — and maybe even dateworthy.  Because when you’re dating or trying to build a relationship – not to mention keep one going – open, honest communication is key.

For me personally, dishonesty and evasive behavior have always been deal-breakers. There was a guy I loved a lot, but couldn’t bring myself to give my heart to him because, among other reasons, I could tell he wasn’t telling me the whole truth (about small things, such as why he was late to pick me up, and about big things, such as his feelings for his ex). He thought he was being tall, dark, handsome (he is all of the above) and mysterious — but to me, it seemed less like a mystery and more like a giant “don’t go there” sign hanging over his head.

This may seem obvious to some of you. I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear how important open communication is in theory – but what about in practice? Are you as honest and open with your date or partner as you should be? Or are you playing games?

That’s right, folks — the opposite of being open and honest in any social connection — be it friendship, family ties or a romantic relationship — is hiding things and playing games. Playing games isn’t sexy, spicy, fun or exciting in the long run – even if it’s Christian Grey who’s doing it. All it does is introduce confusion, discomfort and tension into a relationship. Not to mention jealousy, suspicion and all that rot.

Our “honesty is the best policy” policy doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, pretend or roleplay in the bedroom – we can and do. But there are other things in the bedroom (and out of it) we won’t lie to each other about — such as if we’re too tired to do anything, if something hurts or isn’t pleasurable, if we’re insecure about something sexual or about our bodies, if we’re too scared to try something, if we want to try something but don’t know how or if one of us has trouble reaching climax (for example, he’s made me swear I’ll always let him know what’s going on if I get the urge to fake it), and so on and so forth.

Each of us knows the other is there to support and help (or, if need be, laugh about it), and we don’t shy away from each other, even if we feel too scared, insecure or embarrassed to talk about whatever it is that’s on our mind. At the end of the day, making ourselves vulnerable and transparent to each other doesn’t make us weaker; it makes us stronger both as individuals and as a couple. It gives me strength to know that he accepts and supports me exactly as I am, without any embellishments, without any of the masks I usually put on in the outside world, in a professional or academic environment. And I know and love him just as he is, no illusions to be disenchanted when the Oxytocin dissipates.

At the outset of our relationship, we discussed at length our exes and past experiences. He said one thing that bothered him about his exes was that they always expected him to automatically know what they were thinking and feeling, to always be aware of their wants and needs. If he couldn’t guess, confusion would ensue: he would feel inadequate, and they would feel he wasn’t being attentive enough, wasn’t a proper “knight in shining armor” — because he couldn’t preempt their every need. They hoped he would change and become what they needed, he hoped they would accept him as he is. Eventually — inevitably — they broke up.

At the root of this dissonance lay an acute lack of communication. You can’t expect your man to know what you want and need without telling him anything and just expecting him to guess. And you definitely can’t put him down, think any less of him or wish he would change when he doesn’t, because he’s hardly Mel Gibson in What Women Want – odds are he’s just as shy and insecure as you are. What he needs from you is communication and validation, not enigmatic behavior and mind games. He’s no mind-reader and you’re no fairy-tale princess — you’ll just have to tell him what you want and how you feel. Because if you don’t, he might misunderstand or never know — and disappoint you for no reason at all other than fucked-up communication stemming from misguided expectations and a failure to accept one’s partner as (s)he is.

I’ve known some people who loved their partners a lot, but didn’t respect them enough to be open and honest with them. In the long run, this state of affairs culminated in a traumatic break-up. But how did it come to pass in the first place?

They say that love is blind. It really is. But if a stable, lasting relationship is what you’re after, you can’t afford to overlook the truly important things – and not just if the stakes are high, as they are in my current relationship. And definitely not just when the shit hits the fan.

Anger, frustration, embarrassment and other not-so-positive emotions can accumulate and cause tension between you and your partner if you don’t let them out through the proper channels – and by that, I mean without shouting, screaming, crying or being hysterical in general (and taking it out on your partner, at that). As the admin of this blog wrote in her previous post, you have to be attentive toward your partner and make sure there’s nothing wrong on their end — otherwise there’s quite a lot you’re going to miss.

But there is something you can do on your end, too. Some of the people I know aren’t that open with their partner, but really they mean well – they love their partner and think they’re being honest with them. What they don’t realize is that they’re not being honest with themselves first and foremost. There’s something they won’t admit to themselves or have convinced themselves is not true or of no consequence. But usually others – sometimes even their partner – can tell that something (that you don’t really see yourself with that person in the long term, that the sex isn’t really all that, that you’re repulsed by their porn habit even though Cosmopolitan says you should embrace it, that something about them just bothers you) is wrong and has been left unsaid. That is also the case with things you can admit to yourself, but not to your partner – sooner or later (most likely later, because they’re probably in denial too), they’ll figure out that you don’t really love them or that you’re actually allergic to their beloved cat Fluffy. And it’ll hurt so much more when they do.

So just be honest about things — with your partner, yes, but first and foremost with yourself. You’ll probably thank yourself later.