Secrets

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 #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 #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! 

Rule #34- Opening Up the Archives

via Adam Jones, Ph.D.

via Adam Jones, Ph.D.

A while back I was on a date; it was going well and I had just ordered my second beer. The chemistry was good, and for a change I was starting to enjoy myself. Soon I was lulled into a false sense of security, otherwise known as flowing conversation.

When out of nowhere came the following: “So, when was your last serious relationship and why did it end?”

Me, trying not to splutter my beer very inelegantly all over my date, and mumbling something about not wanting to talk about it.

I might be wrong about this (yes, that does happen sometimes!) but I firmly believe that the EX files need to stay shut, at least for the first few dates.

Rules for Dredging Up Your Past:

1. This conversation is bound to come up, the question is just when. There really is no good time to talk about your past failed relationships, there are just worse times (like first dates, or during/after sex).

If it comes up, let it, and be honest about why things ended.

2. Don’t badmouth, curse, or rant about your ex! Worst move ever; it just makes you seem a little petty. (Not to mention that there were probably some good things that made you two stay together for so long.)

Avoid sentences like; “That cheating bastard, speaking of cheating bastards, if you ever try anything like that, I’ll lop off your…” – well, you get the picture.

3. That said, there is no need for praise either. It will just make your date feel uncomfortable.

4. Try not to talk about your ex all the time. It may give the wrong impression that you aren’t over them (are you?).

Don’t say things like: “I don’t know where that lamp is from, my ex chose all the furniture”, or “ooo that reminds me of that one time we went hiking and…” Just rethink those kind of stories. 

We all have a past, and we are well aware of the fact that the person we are dating has one as well. But there really is no need to constantly reminisce about it. Mainly, because the last thing you want to do is make your present feel awkward, or give them the feeling that things aren’t quite over emotionally between you and your ex. 

At some point, when you both feel cozy, snug, and secure in the relationship it will probably be a non-issue, but until that point, just get through the mandatory “so we dated for five years, and before that there was…”, and stay away from the ten hour analytic speech about why it ended because of his fear of commitment.

Rule #33- Dirty Magazines and Erotic Fiction

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A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. At this point of the post, I would like to state for the record that I have nothing against erotica (when written well). Photographed, graphic, written, and filmed porn are all wonderful things, when taken in proportion.

I’m not claiming that all women don’t want to be tied up in some rich businessman’s flat, force fed good food and expensive wine, while having S&M sex with them. I’m merely suggesting that this specific genre often stretches the truth just a little bit. 

Reading the book got me thinking about how mainstream erotica has become. The fact that an erotic novel is now at the top every international bestsellers list is the best testimony to this. And as much as I didn’t enjoy the book (because of pure literary snobbery), it’s interesting how the taboo on these kinds of novels is slowly dissipating. 

I feel that even though most of us won’t freely admit it, we have all enjoyed some sort of erotica/pornography at some point. 

It is also fascinating that a little thing like a dirty magazine, or a web-browser page left open, can cause such a lot of havoc in a relationship.

Rules for Erotica:

1. Even if porn isn’t your thing, it doesn’t make it the worst habit in the world. Just because you found your boyfriend’s copy of Lesbian Spank Inferno in the DVD player, doesn’t make him a dirty bastard and a cause for a week long argument.

People like other naked people, this is just a fact, and as long as they aren’t real people (unless that’s the arrangement that the two of you have), there is not harm for your relationship in it. 

2. The more sex you have (good sex that is) the more you want to be having; meaning, that your partner is just going to be more riled up, and if you aren’t around, will need some other kind of outlet. This is a good thing, and you should NOT make a big deal out of it! 

So what if she gets through a really large amount of rechargeable batteries?

3. Porn, magazines, and erotic fiction are not real life. I’m sure we all know this, but when we get too immersed in something we tend to forget it.

(as long as you don’t expect your girlfriend to be able to do the upside-down-wheelbarrow-monkey-picks-an-apple position because you saw it “and it looked doable”, there is no reason watching porn should cause any unnecessary friction in the relationship).

4. Fantasy worlds and escapism are wonderful things! Try and share them with your respective other.

(Who knows, you may even enjoy it…)

Big Revelations

Lake_Bled_Couple_(9192025841)

via sporti, Lemsipmatt

A few month ago, The Book (I love talking about myself f in the third person) had The Worse Date EVER Competition (if you haven’t participated yet, it’s about time you click on the link and tell us your very own horrifying tales!).

Recently, we discussed the following strange and wonderful topics: keeping Secrets and ‘Single Behaviour‘ (things that we don’t tell our partners). 

You’ve been there; that long, tense, awkward moment, after your partner shares something with you, something you may have not wanted to find out, EVER . (Or would have really liked to know in advance, before ever agreeing to go out with them).  Hell, we’ve all been there!

I believe in quid pro quo, so I will start off by telling you one of my stories. But because I do still have my reputation to maintain, I shan’t tell you something awful I’ve done, but rather a strange third date revelations that caught me completely off guard.

Many years ago, when I was still young and naive, I met a lovely guy through a friend of mine. We bonded over a beer, and at the end of the evening he walked me to my bus stop (such a gentleman).

A week later, he asked me out to a film, and we met up. He worked as a personal trainer in a local gym, and was quite good looking, if I may say so myself (at least that’s how I remember him; after all, it’s been a while). He showed up dressed in one of those tight shirts, that really accented his abs (I know what you’re all thinking: god, she is SO predictable, it’s obvious he’s gay! We’ll you are wrong, so keep reading).

I had a lovely time with him, and I was really starting to like this guy. On our third date he bought us ice cream and we were sitting on the steps outside city hall. At this point, he very casually decided to tell me, that in addition to working at the gym, he also has another job. He moonlights as a male stripper! 

Being young and smitten, I tried very hard to seem cool with the whole thing. So I smiled, and made some kind of laid back, nonchalant, remark about being fine with it.

Awkward! I mean, really awkward moment!

Now it’s your turn! Tell us your worst/strangest/juiciest story.

Are you getting excited? I am! So pull up your keyboard and do some sharing. (I did preach against gossiping a while back, but seeing as none of us know you, it’s probably alight).

Rule #25- I’ve Got a Secret, Can You Keep It?

Who doesn’t keep secrets? They’re fun, empowering and sometimes, just plain embarrassing!

You might not be a superhero in your free time, but you most defiantly have things in your past/present that are strictly off limits. Keeping stuff to yourself is a completely legitimate practice (and people shouldn’t make you feel guilty for it).

So, is it ok to keep secrets from each other? What do we have to/should we share?!

Rules for Pursed Lips:

1. In my personal opinion, you are not obligated to tell the other person anything you don’t want to, unless it affects them! If it will somehow have repercussions for the other person you are obligated to say something.

For example: you don’t have to tell your boyfriend that you secretly moonlight as a server wench (in your local pirate establishment). But you are obligated to tell him if your ex emailed you to tell you he has some sort of strange rash on his naughty parts, and he might have passed it on to you.

2. Secrets can be harmful, don’t forget that! When they come out they can potentially be deal breakers for your partner. 

So take that into consideration before deciding to keep something important from him.

I once dated someone for months before I discovered that he smoked (I don’t date smokers, so he had craftily hid it from me for ages). It was only after about the sixth time we broke up that I found out.

Think it through properly before withholding! What are the possible consequences for keeping this a secret? Is that a price you’re willing to pay?

3. Honesty really is the best foundation for a relationship (not only a cliché your therapist tells you). And just like you expect honesty, you are also required to live up to your own standards.