The 10 Rules of Dating

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It could happen anywhere. You might be at work, or maybe it’s your favorite club. No matter where it happens, that flash of attraction just happens. Sometimes, it’s a soft little niggle at your heart, but sometimes it’s that feeling of getting swept off of your feet. As someone who did a reasonable amount of dating before find the Perfect Mister Right, I’ve had a good bit of experience from which to develop a few dating tips. 

  1. Take your time. When that big rush hits, you may want to jump into things feet-first and invest everything you’ve got into a relationship. The problem with this is that emotion – even love – is passive, and it requires a choice on your part to do anything about it. Unless you want to potentially regret that choice later, give yourself some space. If you two are meant to be together, waiting several months before you move in won’t matter in the long run. Someone who presses for every moment of every day to be spent together is probably dealing with some serious insecurity issues, and that alone can cause all kinds of complications even before you realize your life has been superseded by someone else’s needs.

  2. Meet their friends. Once you’ve had some time to get to know each other – and I mean a few months – make sure that there is some chance of getting to know your S.O.’s associates. That adage about people being known by the company they keep is mostly true – even if the object of your affection isn’t a curb-stomping punk-face like all of their friends, there’s still a reason he/she hangs out with that crowd. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s not, but it says something about them.

  3. Take what you hear with a grain of salt, but not too much. If you meet your S.O.’s friends and all they have to contribute to the conversation is what a jerk or nerd the S.O. Is, it’s time to reassess. Are their friends being mean and trying to undermine the relationship? Are there ulterior motives at work here? Or are they giving you a fair warning about what could in the future be something of a problem? A person’s dating history is not the exclusive defining factor in how their future relationships will go – sometimes two otherwise happy people just bring out the worst in each other – but it can give you a heads-up on problems you may face in the future.

  4. Meet the family. It’s generally true that a person decides who they will be by a certain age, but the relationship with the family is often very telling. Mommy issues, daddy issues, and even sibling rivalry issues can end up projected onto a romantic relationship to the point where you can end up being on the receiving end of a behavior that has nothing to do with you. If your guy treats his mom like crap, though, just run. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

  5. Married people don’t usually leave their marriages, no matter how great you are. This is a tough one because there are always exceptions to be found. The thing is, exceptions are called “exceptions” for a reason. The general rule is that if a person is married and open to starting an illicit affair on the side, sure, the marriage is in trouble. The problem is that the affair is a band-aid that makes the miserable marriage more bearable – not an inspiration to get out. And even if she does leave her husband for you, she’s still going to have to deal with all of the emotional fallout of having made the decision. Not fun times!

  6. Passions are great, but obsessions can be dangerous. This does not just apply to the creepy stalker-type people. If someone has developed an obsession with you or the relationship, that’s obviously a big red flag. If there are other pre-existing obsessions, though – such as being involved in a cult-like activity or being exclusively focused on a band or author – this is also indicative of someone who does not want to grow or change. Successful relationships are based on growing and changing together, so pay attention to warning signs at the beginning.

  7. Substance abuse and addiction does not happen in a vacuum. A majority of people go through a period of their lives where they flirt with drugs and/or alcohol. Most people get past it, but even in the midst of an “experimentation”, these substances can warp the ability to make good decisions. If you hook up with a great girl when she’s in her party-hard-and-screw-the-world phase, then when she comes out of it, she may not like what she sees in herself or you. Often the problem is deeper – all addiction boils down to control issues of some kind or another – and that’s where you need to put on the brakes. If Mister Wonderful can get some counseling and beat the problem, then you stand a chance.

  8. The acceptable level of abuse is “none”. Abuse is not always hitting and screaming. In fact, most abuse is emotional or mental. Telling someone that they can’t leave because they’ll never find anyone better – that’s a problem. Callously and malicious tearing down someone’s accomplishments is also a problem. Being made to feel bad about yourself, being constantly judged, being put in a position to feel needed instead of wanted are all indicators that you need to get out. And if you feel like you deserve that kind of treatment, then you really need to get out so that you can get some therapy and work through your own stuff. As far as physical abuse is concerned, once is enough – and that includes aggressive coercion for sex as well as throwing things or hitting. It might not happen again for months, but it will happen again.

  9. Honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing, but they’re both important. Little white lies are a problem. Great big lies are a problem. Not being able to talk about emotions and feelings are a problem. If someone can’t find it in themselves to be honest with you, then they are probably not being honest with themselves, and you are in a position to have a great big bomb dropped on you sooner or later. Do yourself a favor and nip it in the bud. Call your S.O. on lies you’ve discovered, no matter how big or small, and make your need for truthfulness and honesty known. It’s a big deal.

  10. The key ingredients of a good relationship are Compassion, Honesty, Respect and Love. These are not trifling things that are negotiable. In a certain sense, they are necessary for every relationship you have with every other human, be it coworker, family member, friend or S.O. They are most important in the romantic sense because without them, you don’t have a lot to work with. You two may be as different as night and day, but with these principles firmly in place, there’s nothing you can’t overcome.

There’s more – there’s always more – but this is a good list to start with. These are the mistakes that I see my friends make the most, and if I could just get them to commit to sticking to these ideas, their lives would be so much easier. The idea that you might “miss out on the One” because things aren’t perfect is a self-sabotaging attitude that puts you in a position to make allowances for things that are unacceptable. There is no “One Perfect Mate” – there are several people out there that could make the long haul with you. The trick is to be patient, let the timing and the inspiration come together, and you, too, could end up blissfully married with the person of your dreams.

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