Love is a many splendored thing. Love makes the world go ’round. Love will keep us together. (Tell that to the Captain…Tenille just dumped his ass.)
I would never claim to be an expert on love, even after 21 years together and 17 years of marriage. I think love is like that green goo they used to sell at the toy store- it’s hard to pin down and it can get pretty messy. It can also be a whole lot of fun.
Love can bring pain, especially when the other factors that make a successful relationship are missing, and love can bring joy.
And while I am no expert, I have had enough experiences to have learned a few valuable lessons.
Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts and advice on love, dating and relationships (heavily influenced by the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” which should be required viewing for all women):
1.Men and women are different. We think different, we feel different, we see the world differently. We’re physically and physiologically different. Not better or worse, just different. Expecting a man to view things the same way you do, to perceive things the way you do, or to respond to things the way you do, will lead to nothing but misunderstanding, frustration, and pain.
2. Allow a man to be a man. Do not try to feminize him. You will not like the result.
3. Adam and Eve were the first humans to fall in love. When Adam saw Eve for the very first time, he exclaimed, “At last!”
The man you choose to love should look at you and say “At last!”
Not “You’ll do.”
Do not manipulate or cajole a man into a relationship with you. You may get him to marry you, but you’ll always know how you got there, and that’s not a good feeling. While you will tell yourself you’ve won because you got the ring on your finger, you’ll know you will never completely have his heart.
4. Communication is the key to any good relationship. Communication is not only words. Many men don’t like to use words, they use their actions to communicate. If the man’s words and his actions do not match, listen to his actions- they always tell the truth.
Believe what he’s not saying. He’s telling you everything you need to know by what he does and does not do.
5. Men are pursuers by nature. If they want you, they will pursue you. You don’t have to pursue them. That is not to say that you should sit by the phone like some 16 year old girl in 1955, never being assertive or asking for what you want. It just means that if you are doing ALL the pursuing,
6. Before entering into any serious relationship, you should be educated and be in touch with who you are, what your values are, what your passions are and where you want your life to end up. That way, he will know who he is entering into the relationship with, and won’t feel blindsided by your sudden desire to be true to yourself, and you won’t feel like you’ve compromised yourself to be in the relationship.
Which brings me to…
7. Compromise. Compromise and the ability to do so is integral in any relationship. There are no winners when someone always tries to be right or to get their way. It’s okay to give in and let the other person have their way, and it’s okay to stand firm on your principles when you feel they’re being violated. Otherwise, there will always be middle ground to be found.
Compromise DOES mean: Listening to the other person’s perspective on an issue, validating their feelings and working towards a solution where everyone feels respected.
Compromise DOESN’T mean: One person makes all the concessions.
8. Be yourself. Any time you feel you have to be someone other than who you are for a man to like you, you are involving yourself with the wrong man. You cannot pretend forever, and it never feels good to know that the person you are with only likes you for who they THINK you are. That is not to say that you should not try to improve yourself, expand your interests because you want to support his interests, or try to put your best foot forward. I sat through more subtitled kung fu movies than I can count, but I never claimed to love them. I endured listening to Morrissey, but made my feelings crystal clear about his inability to sing on key. But you should listen to the music you like, watch the movies you like, eat the foods you like, and not feel the need to hide them.
9.There’s no such thing as a happy ending, unless you count two people dying at the age of 100 holding hands side by side after 80 years of adventures, babies, kissing and companionship. An ending, by definition, is a moment. A wedding is not a happy ending. It is the beginning of a committed life together. A divorce may be a happy ending if you have chosen poorly. A marriage is not a happy ending, it is a series of choices that you make every day. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, but you must choose to be content, regardless of circumstances.
10. A good man is not necessarily the right man for YOU.
Somehow we as women have convinced ourselves that if a man is a good man, we shouldn’t let him get away. The reality is, there are a lot of good men who we are not compatible with. Being a good man, with character, is the starting point of determining viability of a relationship, not the ending point. Some GOOD people just aren’t good TOGETHER. It isn’t a commentary on them or on you, it’s just the way life works. If you are self-critical, dating or marrying a man prone to inflexibility or criticism isn’t a good fit, even if he is a great guy- he can go be a great husband to someone who won’t let his criticism get to her. If you have a strong, intense personality, probably a nice man who hates drama or conflict isn’t a good match. He is better suited for a more easy going woman, while you need someone who will not be easily pushed around and will keep your respect.
11. If it’s not working as a dating relationship, it certainly won’t get easier once you’re married, with a baby depriving you of sleep and a mortgage to pay. People tend to become MORE of who they are over time, not less. Incompatibility or discord will not improve with A) a diamond ring or B) a baby.
12. A man worthy of you will always want the best for you, not the best for you as long as it doesn’t interfere with HIS needs, HIS desires, HIS ideas of the way things should be. He will encourage you to pursue your dreams because he knows a fulfilled YOU will be a better partner.
13. A man worthy of you will appreciate you for who you are, not only what you do for him.
14. If he doesn’t make you laugh, the tough times are really gonna suck. Same goes for if he takes himself too seriously.
15. Don’t ever let a man make you feel desperate for his love or affection. If you find yourself doing things that are out of character, unhealthy, degrading, pathetic or otherwise humiliating, you need to pick yourself up, brush off your knees, and start walking.
17. You teach people how to treat you.
19. Each relationship is an opportunity to learn. Learn about yourself, learn how you want to be treated, learn where you need personal growth, learn about how to love others the way they need to be loved, not the way you want to love them. And if that relationship ends, take all of those lessons to make the next one better.
20. People are unique, and each relationship is unique, but there are some things that are universally true-
A successful relationship is based on two people with similar values who are working towards one common goal, treating each other along the way with a mutual respect.