My relationship style in two words: “too much,” i.e. too generous, too loving, too forgiving, too anxious, etcetera, etcetera.
After my fiancé unexpectedly passed away, I decided that if I ever loved again, I would love fiercely.
Articles on the topic only reinforced my devotion by encouraging me to embrace being “too much.” But, many years striving to be a Pinterest-perfect partner have not resulted in a stable relationship. Instead, I am single, homeless, and unemployed because I moved cross-country for a guy who dumped me after few short months but, sadly, not before I renovated our his house. While I have since resisted the urge to share breakup memes on social media, I have developed a set of rules to guide like-minded lovers. (Don’t judge me; we all wanted to “like” the one that read, “I was too much and not enough for a man who was everything and nothing at all.”)
Starting with a personal lesson, if you were happy before him, don’t give up anything for him unless you would be happy without it and without him. I would strongly advise against quitting your job and moving for him unless you have a job and sufficient social connections to support yourself in the new location without him.
Even if you are not considering uprooting your life, regularly pause to imagine your life without out him. This is not a negative or anxious exercise but rather to ensure you aren’t neglecting other aspects of your life since you are happy in one. If you don’t strive for satisfaction in all areas, then they will begin to impact each other. Also, because I’ve found getting too wrapped up in the idea of him will make it paralyzing to recover if things unexpectedly change.
Trust your first impression. Do not chase him. Do not make excuses for him. I am not saying you should “play games” but if you are too easy to acquire, you will be equally as easy to dispose of.
Stop over thinking that text he sent, look he gave you, or thing he did. You are either too good to him, too good looking for him, or he likes you just the way you are. Stop being insecure. Actually, if your confidence feels shaken, dump him immediately. You should not be in a relationship if you cannot love yourself.
Speaking of texting and miscommunication, never have a conversation about your relationship via text message, between the hours of 10 pm and 10 am, or after more than two drinks. In fact, you should avoid texting regarding feelings altogether. Less is more. If it takes more than three sentences to text, call. If he still refuses to have a conversation and you resort to expressing yourself via lengthy rage texts, you have my nonjudgmental sympathy but, rest assured, you do not have his attention.
If you get mad, do not rush for an immediate solution. Before you say anything to him, think about how you would feel if he said it to you. Try not to curse or raise your voice. Tragically, he will not find your wit or dramatic humor amusing.
Check in with him regularly. Make sure he feels comfortable approaching you with what he needs to remain in the relationship. When he does, do not take any constructive criticism too personally.
Kill the automatic negative thoughts (knife emoji, ant emoji). Those worst-case scenarios that you lose sleep over won’t come true. And, when things in my life have actually gone wrong, it was much worse than I imagined so don’t waste time trying to prepare.
If it has been more than two weeks since you went out without him, immediately cancel your plans with him and take yourself out for a glass (or two) of champagne. Keep at least one of your favorite bars to yourself that way you will have a safe place to go to without running into him when you need space or in the immediate period following a breakup.
Do not buy him that expensive present unless you have absolutely everything your heart desires. In fact, stop picking up the tab so much. Don’t give me some “stop being sexist,” “you are an independent woman,” or “but I make more money than him” excuse. Even if that is true, there is something to be said about a man that demonstrates he values your company. I wouldn’t have student loans if I had followed this advice in the last seven years and I assure you, my ex rarely wears that YSL tie or those Hermés cuff links but their cost alone means I’m one month further from being debt free. While we are on the topic of material goods, do not acquire a couple’s Traeger. In fact, I’m taking my advice buying myself one (as soon as I have a job and a home for it, naturally). I am tired of losing my ability to smoke salmon with every breakup.
Be mindful of how you deal with stress or emotions and be reactive when you notice the negative effects of those actions. Based on my coping mechanisms, if I have gained ten or more pounds, I am either stressed out by my job or my personal life and should either dump him or quit my job and then go run five miles. Know your warning signs.
Speaking of your appearance, he does not notice that tiny imperfection on your body, minor weight gains, your eyebrows, or that you have not gotten a manicure in two weeks. You are still sexy. But, be skeptical of the guy that never compliments you when you spend extra time getting ready before seeing him.
Yes, you are doing too much for him. Take off that apron. Cooking too much will make you irritable if he doesn’t like it or if he shows up late and it gets cold. Also, it will make you both fat.
Intimacy, or lack thereof, is often a warning sign. If he is not meeting your physical or emotional needs, find out why and address it. If his reasoning at all relates to your appearance or him being too busy, move on.
If you catch him lying, leave him. I realize that, like me, you are empathetic and forgiving. Your first instinct will be to try to understand his actions before judging him. While compassionate, this will only result in rationalizing actions that are probably indicative of his true character and actual level of commitment.
Minimize all external factors that will make you stay in a relationship with someone who is not good for you. Sorry, that does mean you cannot get too attached to his family and friends or sleeping next to someone. A body pillow and your own friends’ loyalty will be equally as comforting.
Relationships are not all or nothing. Do not threaten to or actually break up with him unless you are 100% ready for him to call you on your bluff.
Finally, if he ends it there isn’t much left to say. If your love wasn’t enough, your words won’t be either. I’ve never regretted silence but I almost always regret breaking it.
While I hope we altruists do find lasting romantic love, I hope that we will build lives that are self-fulfilling even more. We’ve done it for our significant others, we can do it again for ourselves.