I’ve written about breakups more times than I can count, so let’s shake things up a bit, shall we? Starting a new relationship is just as difficult, and if you’re not careful, you could propel yourself into self-sabotage mode, and that’s no fun at all. While I understand there’s no actual set of rules, and every situation is different (slightly less objective than a breakup, where it’s a pretty safe assumption that it sucks), there are definitely some universal truths that apply to many new relationships. I will dispense this information now.
Taking things at a glacial pace is a lot safer for everyone
Coming from someone who could probably set the world record for fastest relationships on the planet, trust me when I say that slower is better. There’s no pace that’s right or wrong, but as a general rule you’re far better off taking it slowly. Like, really slowly. That means don’t meet someone on Wednesday, text non-stop on Thursday, go out on Friday, spend the weekend together, and then hang out again the following Tuesday (trust: I’ve done it, and it doesn’t end well). Don’t be insanely needy and things will last a lot longer.
If you actually like the person, don’t sleep with him/her right away
This is a big one, and I’m brutal for it. But, do as I say, not as I do. If the person is worth it, it won’t even be that much of a problem (insofar as that the object of your desire won’t be pissed you haven’t slept together yet – because if this is the case, abort mission). I don’t want to be all cheesy and say “it’ll mean more if you wait at least as little bit”, but…it’ll mean more if you wait at least a little bit. Plus you’ll probably feel slightly less shitty about yourself if things go badly if they haven’t seen you naked. You’ll sleep better.
Understand that they had a life before you
Read: they dated people before you. They probably even really, really liked some of them. That has nothing to do with you remotely. Don’t compare yourself to them, or text your best friend screen caps of their Instagrams at 1 am asking how you’ll ever live up to them (cough). It doesn’t matter how good-looking they are. Yes, they dated for a reason, but they also stopped dating for a reason. Unless they have a child and the other parent is still in their life, there’s a pretty good chance they don’t see or speak to their exes. And if they do, trust them when they say they’re just friends. If you can’t trust that, just walk away.
Don’t tell everyone in your life about them until you know what it is
It really sucks to be super excited about a potential conquest, blab about them incessantly to your friends, and then have it go south. You don’t want to deal with the whole “Hey, remember that guy/girl you talked about all day every day and then suddenly stopped mentioning? What happened to them?” thing. You won’t enjoy that conversation, and if you’re anything like me, you may feel kind of stupid.
Be in self-preservation mode for a little while
Don’t necessarily play “hard to get”, but don’t make yourself too available, either. I’m pretty needy (I’ll admit that), potentially more than most (to put it lightly) and even I get freaked out if my crush texts me too much. If you’re too available that means you’re vulnerable, and if you’re vulnerable you’re at risk of getting way more upset than you may expect. Don’t close yourself off completely, but be smart.
Understand that everyone has the right to change their mind
In the early stages of a relationship things are tenuous at best. If you’ve been hanging out for two weeks or dating for 6 months, it doesn’t matter: you reserve the right to walk away if you should feel so inclined. Both of you do. Nothing is promised or owed to you. It’s either going to work out, or its not, and you’ll live either way.
Remember that for the first three months everyone sends a representative
Meaning you’re both on “best behaviour” mode. This isn’t a bad thing, but don’t make sweeping generalizations about their character based on how they act in the very early stages. This is merely a glimpse of who they are, the same way that you’re only showing a glimpse of who you are (i.e.- you may, let’s say, go to the bathroom before they wake up and put on just a little bit of mascara. What of it?). If they seem too good to be true, chances are that’s partially the case.
What you should take away from this article is that dating can suck, but it doesn’t always have to. Don’t hand your heart out like a coupon for free beer, but don’t keep it locked in a hyperbaric chamber, either. Everyone is royally messed up, and love is basically just the process of coming to terms with someone else’s particular brand of crazy. The sooner you realize that, the happier you’ll be.
Just make sure to curb the crazy as best you can, ok?