1. Recognize you’re scared
The reason people have doubts and worries about starting a relationship can usually be traced back to one thing – fear. Intimate relationships feed off of our insecurities, insecurities that are heightened by the fear of rejection. Let’s call a spade a spade, everyone is afraid of being rejected. Whether you’re an independent bad ass or a chronic relationship junkie the fact that being with someone new is unknown and uncertain can quite honestly be fucking mortifying. Accept it for what it is and try not to react out of fear because it will only make you chase someone away.
2. Relate, relate, relate
The crazy thing about pending and full on relationships is that EVERYONE goes through them – and get this, they manage to get into committed relationships somehow! Despite the articles and discussions around how our generation sucks at dating the truth is we still do get into relationships and those of your friends who are in relationships will gladly share with you how to navigate these tricky situations that arise the first few weeks/month of dating. Nothing makes you feel better than knowing you’re not in fact crazy, you’re not a snowflake, you’re just in the human experience and other people can relate.
You know that thing where words come out of your mouth and then words come out of their mouth and an understanding is agreed upon? Yeah, that part is important in the beginning of your relationship (actually every stage of your relationship just FYI; some might even say the MOST important part of any relationship). Without developing the ability to talk to each other about things nothing is ever going to get off the ground so be open and willing to say what’s on your mind instead of just assuming and guessing in the beginning of things. If you don’t feel comfortable communicating with them at all then you may need to spend some more time being single for a while.
4. Learn how they communicate
Being able to talk to each other is just the beginning. In a new relationship you have to be willing to feel out exactly how the other person best communicates to actual make it work. Maybe one of you does better communicating through actions or maybe you need more processing time than your partner in order to communicate effectively. As adults we know that sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it and making sure you’re doing that so that the other person is open and receptive is something you have to learn to do, not something you just know.
5. Be completely honest
We’re always focused on being the chill guy/girl starting out with someone new that we will sometimes end up portraying ourselves as someone we’re not. While it’s important to make a great first impression on the first few dates, the further in you go you need to be as honest as possible about your own expectations around what you want and need from a partner. This also means being completely honest with yourself and your own intentions because if you’re not clear how else can you be clear to someone else? If you’re angry be angry, if you are sad be sad. You have to be honest with your feelings because it’s all about the feels at this stage anyway.
6. Sink yourself into something you’re passionate about
Otherwise you’re going to spend 95% of your time inside your own head. It’s easy to get into a relationship and be wholey consumed by the desire and newness of it. Wanting to give this person your undivided time and attention is normal and expected but if you can help it try to divert a percentage of that energy on doing something you love to do whether it be a hobby, work, a goal you’ve been meaning to attain or even simply working out. Think of it like this, once you’re fully in a relationship the time you spend doing other things natural drops down (but should never be completely forgotten!) so spend the energy you have now enjoying those things because you can’t forget that there are other things that existed in your life before this person.
7. Be gentle with yourself
Being open and vulnerable during the blossoming relationship is nerve racking and tends to bring up dormant fears and insecurities we likely have had problems dealing with in the past. Realize that that is what’s going on and be really gentle with the self-doubt/self judgement that tends to ensue. You are a human person letting someone into your life with no guarantee it’ll work out so go easy on yourself!
8. Focus on the excitement
We tend to get so lost in the over thinking part of it all that we forget that falling for someone and developing a relationship is exciting! The dopey grin, the butterfly feelings, those things are fleeting and only exist for so long before you really settle in so you have to appreciate it while there’s still excitement and firsts to be had. The romance part might not be exactly as described (thank society for those false expectations) but it is a special time between just the two of you that will be something you always remember whether it ends up working out or not. Be happy in your couple bubble as corny as that sounds.
9. Be clear about what you need to feel comfortable in a relationship
This goes along with being able to communicate and being honest upfront with your significant other but I still feel like it’s important to reiterate because this is where most of all relationship problems arise from. Before you get into a relationship you should know what you need to be happy in one. Are you someone who needs a certain amount of space? Are you someone who has strong values around family and/or religious beliefs? Do you need your partner to understand something important that needs to be provided in order for you to feel safe? These are all important but should not be confused with the things you want in a relationship i.e. unfair expectations that someone can make you 100% fulfilled by reassuring you constantly that they care/want to be with you.
10. Take into consideration their perspective
Even though it takes two people to enter a relationship, it’s important to remember that each of you is viewing this process through completely different eyes and past experiences. Be willing to see how things are playing out from their perspective and be willing to adjust and empathize with them when you can. This will also help you to be more understanding of them in general and will prevent you from overthinking or prematurely judging something they do or say.
11. Be in it to win it
Arguably the most important part of entering into any form of romantic relationship is to remember that it’s really the two of you against everything else. A partnership is the merger of “you”, and “I”, becoming “us” and “we”, which means the second you decide to enter a real relationship you’re making a choice to be together and you have to keep making that choice even when things are hard (especially when things are hard). It’s a marathon not a sprint but if you can get past the first few hurdles you will be just fine.