Friday, September 21, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Relationships

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Relationships
New love is awesome!  The anticipation.  The school girl infatuation.  The little things that make getting to know that special new someone so euphoric.  As time presses on, those cute little things become increasingly annoying.  The infatuation subsides.  Then you find yourself faced with the decision to continue with your relationship, or bail for the next chapter in the adventures of fantasy island.  If you choose to continue investing in that partner, fighting for your relationship’s survival in today’s world means meandering through mountains of relationship advice to find what works best in your relationship.  And developing into an ideal partner is no easy task.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve failed miserably at relationships.  Trading in that school girl infatuation for mature, meaningful adult companionship can be difficult if you don’t take some time to personally reflect upon some key points. 
·         Be honest with yourself (and your partner) about who you are.
Honesty is the backbone of all relationships.  It is the foundation upon which the relationship is built.  If the foundation isn’t solid, it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing collapses.  With that in mind, you have to be honest with yourself first.  That includes being honest about who you are.  In real life.  Not that person you like to pretend to be with others.  The real you.  As your relationship progresses, this is the person that will surface.  Once you’re honest about who you are, then you can honestly choose the best partner for you.  After all, you’re going to want that person to stick around with that ugly person inside that you try to hide.  You know the one!  That dragonlady that roars and breathes fire in early mornings. Or that canine queen that surfaces if she’s procrastinated trying to meet a deadline.  Let’s just say that if the surprise in store isn’t a good one, be honest upfront about those things that might scare your partner away. 
·         Just because your partner doesn’t ask doesn’t mean don’t do.
Mutual consideration is the point I’m trying to convey here.  No one wants to always be the one to initiate fun things to do.  Or always be the one to cook dinner.  Or pay on dates.  If you’ve chosen a passive partner who may be too shy to ask you to step up to the plate, cut that person a little slack every now and then and be the person to make plans.  Or treat.  Whatever you think would work for you, apply that to how you cater to your partner.  Guard against monotony with a backrub or massage.  Keep your partner appreciative of your spontaneity for those times when you goof.
·         Nobody wants a nag. 
Nagging is so yesterday.  (The same as that expressionJ)That technique is thankfully outdated.  And if you’ve not stepped up your level of communication, it isn’t too late to make that change.  Intelligent and open lines of communication will get you farther than “barking” at your partner.  Give that person credit for being human.  Then try to understand why (s)he is avoiding doing something that you’ve asked.  It could be that not doing is the easiest way (s)he can think of to tell you that (s)he isn’t interested in doing whatever it is.  Take the hint and begin a dialogue towards reaching some mutual understanding rather than nagging his or her ear off and increasing the divide between the two of you.   
·         Fight fair.
No matter how great the two of you gel together, there will be arguments and disagreements.  Know this.  Prepare for this.  And fight fair.  I’m sure it’s easier said than done, but don’t say things that you won’t want to repeat once the argument is over.  Those earsplitting insults or hurtful comments could cause irreparable damage and emotional scars that will be difficult to rebound from.  If you’re too angry to have a heated disagreement, put it on pause and wait until the both of you are in a rational enough state to have what could be a healthy squabble.  I know you’ve heard how fun it can be making up!
·         Realize that you are an extension of your partner.
There is nothing that immediately comes to mind more disheartening than to hear a partner degrade the person with whom (s)he is involved.  I imagine this technique is used to vent and gain sympathy from friends and supporters.  But to talk so much trash about that person only to continue in the relationship speaks volumes about who you are.  You have chosen this person to share your time with.  That person is an extension of a decision you’ve made.  If things are bad, then decide how you will remedy the situation without making yourself look as though you could do no better than all those colorful descriptions you will share with your listeners.  Think of it more as how you would want your partner to share with others about you, and offer him or her that same courtesy.
·         Be realistic. 
Your relationship isn’t scripted.  Please don’t expect to have a soap opera romance and blame your partner for not knowing his or her lines.  Or missing your cues.  You won’t want to spend every waking moment with this person.  If you do, you have some attachment issues that should be addressed.  The both of you need room to breathe and miss each other.  There was a life that both of you had apart from each other that should continue.  What you are is a welcomed addition, rather than a replacement.  Your partner has friends and family that (s)he will continue to want to spend time doing things with and so have you.  Have realistic expectations of each other and each other’s time.
·         Appreciate.
A little appreciation every now and then can speak volumes.  Take time to communicate with your partner how much you enjoy him or her and appreciate the contribution (s)he has made to your life.  And you don’t have to wait until (s)he has done something to say so.  No one wants to feel as if they’re taken for granted.  Couple your expression of appreciation with some spontaneous romantic gestures, and you have given your partner attention (s)he can reflect on during those rough times when “appreciating” each other may be a bit more difficult.
·         Once you invite friends and family into your relationship, they may not want to leave.
Always consider that there is more than just you involved.  If you are at a point where communication with your partner has been difficult and kept the two of you at odds, be cautious about inviting in friends and family to mediate.  I’m not saying that it’s wrong to consult someone for advice.  But what I do want to point out is that once you open that door to let your family and friends weigh in on your relationship, you could have a hard time turning them around when their welcome is over.  Equally as important is what information you share with friends and family, or how.  You are painting the picture for them.  And if they aren’t mutual friends of both you and your partner, you could’ve unfairly cast your partner in a bad light that will be difficult to shy from when the two of you have begun to work things out.
The thrill of a new relationship doesn’t have to dwindle with time if you take a mature approach.  If we learn from past failures we can draw upon those experiences to better ourselves and in turn build stronger, better and healthier relationships. 

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