1. Don’t text more than you actually see one another in person.
Your relationship exists in real life, not through avatars on a screen.
2. Stop taking people for granted.
There are not “tons of fish in the sea.” The number of people you could realistically have a happy, lifelong relationship with are very few. Start with every human that is alive, then break it down. The gender/sex you’re attracted to, geographic location, age range – down a few billion people already. Then factor in the defining details: what you value, if and when you want kids, how you want to spend your Friday nights, how you approach money, your libido, and uh, who you are attracted to on top of all of this. Your circle is smaller than you think. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist – people find them every day. That means you should appreciate them more, and work on it harder.
3. Stop assuming that you have forever to commit.
Getting married later in life isn’t necessarily better – it comes with it’s own host of challenges, namely, merging your lives as two individuals who have spent the bulk of their formative years developing their identities as single individuals. When you get married younger, you have more potential to grow together and adapt to one another. The point is: don’t wait for the sake of it.
4. “Talking” is not a relationship status.
Treating it as such makes it easier and easier for people to shy away from real commitment, and leave others reeling over their very-real-but-not-officially-real “almost relationships.”
5. Ask people on dates, not to “hang out.”
Retire the “here” text for good. Take people to dinner. Knock on the door. Go dancing. (Real dancing.) Bring flowers. Be polite. Treat the people you’re interested in with old school levels of respect. It will go miles.
6. Clarify what your relationship is before you change your status on Facebook.
You don’t ask someone to be in a relationship by sending them a Facebook request. Don’t have your fights play out over a Facebook comment feed. And for the sake of your own sanity, don’t stalk their exes.
7. Stop trusting words over actions. Stop trusting “signs” over reality.
People think they find their soul mates all the time, but that doesn’t mean it always works out. If someone isn’t with you, they don’t want to be. Love survives the impossible every day. Any and every excuse not to be in a relationship comes down to the same thing: they don’t love you enough.
8. Say what you want from a relationship, and mean it, even when it feels easier to write that you’re “just looking to hangout and see what happens” on a dating site.
You’re attracting the wrong people if that’s not what you really mean.
9. Respect other people when they tell you what they want from a relationship.
If they say they don’t want to commit – even though they seem, by all other standards, completely in love with you – they don’t want to commit, unless they explicitly tell you they’ve changed their minds.
10. “Liking” a photo on Instagram is a loaded action, and people pay attention (as crazy as it may seem).
Especially if you’re “liking” the photos of people you’re attracted to, who you’ve dated, and so on. Posting a photo on Instagram of yourself and your significant other is another loaded action, and people pay attention (as crazy as it may also seem). There’s a reason people refer to it as “Insta official.”
11. Put your damn phone down at dinner.
There is nothing that is more distasteful at this point, because it implies that a news feed filled with Donald vs. Hillary memes is more interesting than the person sitting in front of you.
12. If you want to know whether or not you really like someone, ask yourself this: if you were going to be stuck on an island with that person for the rest of your life, and social media didn’t exist, would you still want to hangout with them every day?
If your answer is no, chances are high that what you’re after is not just the security of a partner (albeit the wrong one) but also perhaps the image of having gotten married, or continuing your digital narrative in a desirable way. Remember that the way you feel about your life is how you feel when you’re in it – not when you’re staring at it on a screen.