Some Parting Advice on Dating and Loving [Dear DBN]

I have had the unique pleasure to work with CollegeCandy answering questions about love, jobs, boys, girls, texting, cheating, loving and lying every week for over a year now, but the time has come to wrap up this chapter and start answering some lingering questions for myself. But before I leave, I wanted to share with you one final list of what I’ve seen lead to happy relationships and happier people. May some of the pieces guide you toward joy as they have for me. Happy love and dating!

In Dating:

The first few months should be easy.

-How many romantic stories ever started with, “He dumped me three times before proposing! I cried to my girlfriends all the time!” Please note that this is different from, “I ignored him for the first three months.” It should be easy when you are dating.

Everybody is somebody’s ex.

-We’ve all dated other people. We don’t need to talk about it.

Do not spend all day texting/G-chatting.

-My best friend and I g-chat every day, and when she goes on vacation, I just about lose my mind wanting to talk to her. Let your lover feel that way, too. Let them fantasize about having you in their arms, about wrapping you up and kissing you when they see you, instead of listening to you complain all day about how the girl next to you won’t stop smacking on her gum. I spend all day IMing with my best friends because I spend all night not talking to them. People either get day or they get evening because everyone gets tired of each other. Everyone.

The more you need to ask for advice about someone, the more likely it is you shouldn’t be dating them.

-When I met my best friend, I didn’t constantly ask other people if the things she was doing were indicative of a good best friend, or if I should call her that, or if the text she sent meant she actually wanted to hang out on Saturday. We both started calling each other “best friend” because it was obvious and good and natural. I know this is solid advice solely based on how many times I have cavalierly opted to ignore it and ended up in heartache.

Love and sex do not always pair when we want them to.

-Great sex does not mean you’re in love. Being in love doesn’t mean the sex will be good. Because life’s unfair.

Don’t “social media” your relationship to death.

-If you saw someone sexy at a party, would you follow them around and listen to every conversation and try to glean information from every inside joke and immediately follow around anyone they spoke to trying to determine their relationship status and checking who that person spoke to and how frequently and if they talked to that person again, following all of these people around like a poorly trained dog begging for scraps? Because that’s what social media stalking is and it’s tacky and weird. Stop it. People are not meant to be open books for dissection, they’re meant to be fascinating creatures of discovery.

Men typically go after what they want.

-No one ever said this meant women shouldn’t.

And in Love:

Love isn’t an elaborate YouTube video.

-Love is doing the dishes and the laundry when you’re stuck at the office and leaving a plate of dinner in the microwave for you. Having three million strangers comment on your proposal won’t mean shit when he doesn’t answer your texts and stumbles in drunk the next morning. Big displays of love are just that: displays. And they can feel good and they can turn things around, but love is a river and it will stagnate in a pool of one off gestures.

Do not try to have serious conversations via text.

-How many times do we need to go over this before it becomes clear that you cannot convey tone in a text message? That taking a phone call in the middle of a text conversation can leave a three minute gap after “Do you love me?” and ruin everything?  You can’t even use bold or italics in texting! Stop trying to have life altering conversations on this medium.

Your boyfriend and your best friend should be two separate people. For your sanity and his.

-This person is your lover. They are not your best friend. Your best friend is a different category.

Ain’t nothing wrong with loving someone who loves you more.

-Imagine this scenario: you need to pull a cart of rocks to the top of a mountain and you can choose one of two people to do it. The first choice won’t complain when you get a little lazy and he’ll stop and help you up when you scrape your knee. The second choice will occasionally tell you that you need to pull it yourself because he’s had a hard life and my god does he appreciate you for doing that for him. He will also tell you that you are strong enough to pick yourself up when you fall, and baby you’ll appreciate me later for making you dust yourself off, because you’re a strong woman. That second man is a manipulative piece of shit and it’s better to learn that now. Being tough is great. Being tough and having someone who’s like, “I don’t care how tough you are, you can’t push a cart of rocks up a mountain with a broken ankle” is better. Learn this now and save yourself years and years of bullshit.

Fights are not multi-media or multi-topic. Talk about the problem at hand and not anything else.

-Wanting to hear him say you’re beautiful more often is not the right time to mention that your wealthy, charming and single male boss tells you that you look great all the time. The problem is how often your boyfriend says it, not how often anyone else does. Fight fair. And if he’s the one not fighting fair, just yell, “Objection! Leading the witness into a different issue that can be addressed at a later date but not right now!”

Hug and kiss your person the moment they walk in the door.

-It helps differentiate them from, you know, roommates. It’s the equivalent of washing a garment the moment you spill something on it – it’s much easier to remove that stain after it happens than a week later at the dry cleaner’s. Now kiss and makeup.

Other men and other women are not your enemy. Your partner has control and ownership of their actions.

-I don’t care if you find another woman in your bed literally wearing a shirt that says “homewrecker”, she is not the problem – the problem is the person who betrayed you. And if the “homewrecker” tank top is your best friend, then the problem is you because you’ve got shitty taste in people.

Being happy is better than being right.

-You’re probably right about the year KFC was founded, who played Churchill in The King’s Speech, and how many National Championships your university has won. Look it up later, pat yourself on the back, and let it go. Actually, maybe correct him on that National Championships one because your team is technically family.

Comfortable is not the same as boring, and passionate is not the same as good.

-Think about your job, your family members, your friends… you don’t worship them every day. Some days they’re difficult and selfish and pointlessly difficult, but you don’t quit them. You don’t quit your job because your boss didn’t praise your latest PowerPoint deck. You don’t abandon your sister because she got shitfaced at your birthday and you had to give up your night to drive her home. You don’t delete your friend’s number because she didn’t respond to a text. Relationships and occupations ebb and flow and between highs and lows there are plateaus of living your life, of day in and day out, sunrise to sunset of paying bills and buying groceries, good outfits and bad hair days, and the quiet lull of being an animal living its life. And sometimes, when for the seemingly umpteenth time you come home and watch TV with your honey and think, “our relationship is so boring,” consider that they might be thinking the same thing and maybe it’s on you to say, “want to go for a walk and grab a beer?”

The best piece of advice I ever got, concerning anything, was from my father. I was in the dregs of hating my “pointless job” and wondering if I was meant to seriously create digital banner ads under this much duress for all of eternity and what was I even adding to the world and not understanding why men were such complete gas lighting idiots and how could the world be so pointless and cruel to rip away the one thing I loved the most and why was it so hard to figure out how to cook rice and how was our government ever going to fix anything and what was the point of any of this and why couldn’t I find one single god damned outfit to wear that night.

My father told me to have a glass of water, go for a walk, and calm the fuck down.

Therein lay the solution to everything: we get so worked up, so twisted into our own thoughts and misconceptions and assumptions that we forget today is just another day on top of another day and only in the calm can we see the horizon clearly. Everyone gets worried, suspicious, panicky, and confused, and everyone says things that get misunderstood, misconstrued, misattributed, and missed all together. When we’re doubling over backwards to understand life, it’s worth remembering we’re not supposed to understand it, we’re supposed to enjoy it. Seek the calm so you may see the joy more clearly.

To read previous Dear DBN columns, click here!

This is How Online Dating is Ruining Everything
This is How Online Dating is Ruining Everything
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