1. Mistaking neglect for a sexy game of hard-to-get.
There is this weird tendency in early relationships to think that someone who doesn’t answer your text messages promptly, cancels on you last-minute, and generally ignores you when they don’t feel like dealing with a relationship is really sexy. We are taught to think that “giving a shit about the other person and communicating clearly like an adult” is “neediness,” and get addicted to the feeling of staring at our phones waiting for a message to pop up.
But this is one of those behaviors that just gets old really quick. You get tired of playing cat-and-mouse with your own ego, and just want someone who is going to call you back on time. You know you’ve grown up when the idea of being left hanging has gone from totally sexy, to immature and not worth your time.
2. Starting fights just to have something to do.
I partially blame shows like Sex and the City, which convinced us that relationships are only ~sexy and intense~ if you’re constantly fighting with one another and making up. But picking fights with each other just to keep it spicy (and to then have makeup sex, which quickly becomes your only kind of sex) is extremely juvenile. It’s not that no healthy couple fights, it’s just that fighting for the sake of doing it is something you only need if nothing else in your relationship is interesting. Going through a weekly cycle of crying and throwing plates, only to fall deeply in love again the next morning, becomes totally ridiculous once the two of you have real jobs and lives to deal with. Adults would much rather laugh, have fun with each other, and only fight when it’s really necessary and mutually respectful.
3. Being selfish and jealous over each other’s time.
“Where were you last night???” is something you only enjoy saying over and over again when you are immature, romantically speaking. Being super demanding and jealous over your partner’s time (or tolerating when they’re not respectful of yours) is completely ridiculous. If you really can’t trust that person, leave. And if you can trust them, you just get really dramatic and jealous when they want to go out with friends or do something that doesn’t involve you, take a break from relationships, because you aren’t ready for them. Grown-ups should be capable of understanding that “loving someone” doesn’t mean “spending every waking hour in their presence so they can be reassured at all times.”
4. Not being honest about what you want because you’re afraid to lose them.
Okay, when you’re 19 and you are pretending to love the terrible jam band music your stoner boyfriend loves because you want his approval, and don’t make a fuss when he smokes pot five times a day, including before seeing your parents, fine. You’re a dumb teenager, and that’s what you think is appropriate behavior because you’re in love with a guy who wears hemp jewelry. But that shit does not fly when you are nearing 30. And sadly, there are definitely many adults who bite their tongue on really important things because they think it’s more important to pretend to be the perfect partner, rather than to be honest and fulfilled. Don’t be one of them.
5. Totally separating “couple time” and “friend time.”
It might seem sexy to be one of those couples who becomes totally obsessed with each other and never sees their friends anymore when you’re new to the whole love thing, but it’s not. At all. Learning how to balance your social life with your romantic life, and to bring one another into your reality, to make space for them and enjoy them in balance with everything else, is a fundamental part of grown-up love.
6. Breaking up and getting back together 75 times per financial quarter.
Okay, maybe there is something dangerous and hot about on-again, off-again relationships when you are in college and have little else to focus on, responsibility-wise. But I don’t understand how someone can have responsibilities, and goals in life, and a general desire to improve as a person, and stay stuck in the same whirlpool of romantic dissatisfaction. Breaking up to make up over and over again is not because you’re some fiery, passionate couple who is destined to be with each other and ~can’t be with anyone else~. It means that you are both immature and enjoy drama, likely because things aren’t all that interesting when your relationship is going well. Grow up, and be with someone you want to be with full-time, instead of someone you break up with every time they don’t put the dishes away properly.