1. Falling in Love
Now don’t get me wrong, falling in love is arguably the end goal of any budding relationship. It’s one of the few, truly important experiences in this world, and it’s the only surefire way of ending your loneliness and, possibly, of making sense of the human condition. Yet, by falling in love and saying “I love you,” you’re making yourself immensely vulnerable and setting up a possibly unequal dynamic if your significant other doesn’t feel the same way. A couple falling in love is a beautiful thing, it just becomes infinitely trickier — and potentially catastrophic — when one falls in love far before the other is ready. That’s not to say don’t fall in love, just communicate honestly, and, if your significant other is as much of a gem as you had hoped, they’ll be honest back. Whether they’re ready to commit to you as much as you are to them doesn’t have to be the dividing wedge, as long as a productive discussion is had.
2. Playing “Mom” and “Dad”
If we did a Freudian analysis I’d imagine almost all modern relationships have some sort of semi-Oedipal dynamic. There are way too many dudes who treat their girlfriend like their mother, leaving the dishes undone, the food uncooked, themselves disheveled, hoping someone will clean everything up. And for the ladies (the Electra complex), don’t get into daughter mode or claim you’re “not math-y enough” as a cop-out from dealing with the finances. If “dad” is doing all the work, he’s going to feel like he’s getting the short end of the stick. So too goes with “mom” taking care of your lazy self, so try to act like adults and leave the filial mindset to when you’re actually with your family.
“I live in a house over there on the Island, and in that house there is a man waiting for me. When he drove up at the door I drove out of the dock because he says I’m his ideal.” – Judy Jones, “Winter Dreams”
In my favorite Fitzgerald short story, Winter Dreams, (well my favorite is that or A Diamond as Big as the Ritz) every male character idealizes the ever-beautiful Judy Jones. She ends up breaking many hearts, but, in the end, she ends up with a man who doesn’t much appreciate her for who she actually is. It’s impossible to live up to the mythological expectations of someone’s “ideal”; likewise, it’s entirely unfair to be the one doing the idealizing. You should love a person not because the way they seem in your dreams, but for the way they really are. Because if you know someone’s weaknesses, insecurities, the traits they hate about themselves and the experiences that haunt them, and you choose to love them nonetheless, then you’re loving them most truly: as a real person. After all, when you roll over in bed in the morning, your dream will have ceased, and what you’ll want is someone real to love, their weaknesses and all.
4. Using Facebook Too Much
Psychology Today claims that the brain of someone going through a breakup is similar to the brain of a cocaine addict experiencing withdrawals. Add to that the fact that looking at your ex’s Facebook profile activates the brain in similar ways to a former coke addict who snorts up a line, and it becomes clear that Facebook is a powerful drug. It goes without saying that the more often you’re on Facebook, the more often you’ll look at your significant other’s profile. You’ll see whom they’ve added, are photographed with, the photos and statuses they’ve “liked.” Naturally, jealousy ensues. Facebook also facilitates both emotional and physical cheating, as it’s easier to reconnect with exes. While it all sounds pretty juvenile, for most of us, Facebook still plays a semi-important part of our lives. We need to be careful how we use it in relation to both exes and current significant others, otherwise our relationship status will be changing back to “single” sooner than we’d like.
5. Inebriated Texting
When you’re drinking, whatever you think you’re feeling — you’re not. Your emotions get amped up, depressed, toyed with, just flat out changed. Don’t think that sending that long text message or making that late-night call is going to seem at all as heartfelt to your “true love” as it does to you four drinks in. And don’t call someone your “true love” over text message. Certain words and sentiments are reserved for face-to-face (and sober) conversations. After all, in the morning, you’ll never regret not sending that message. Pressing “send,” however, can lead to all sorts of remorse.
6. Saying the Usual, Thoughtless Stuff
“Mad, huh? You must be PMS-ing?” “How’s that diet going?” “You look really tired.” “What? Are you pissed?” “You’re looking more and more like your mother every day.” “Wow, just chill out.”
It’s an elementary concept, but if you think before you speak, you probably won’t say any of that stuff. That means you’ll be about 1000% more likable. I’m no mathlete, but that seems a lot more likable.
7. Comparing to Past Relationships
“The way you do that with your hair totally reminds me of how Madison curled her hair.” It’s healthy to talk about exes and what you want out of your relationship, but bringing up past relationships in day-to-day life makes your current significant other feel like they’re constantly being judged. Plus, it shows you’ve still got Madison or whomever still on your mind. Silly as it sounds, you should probably make sure you’re over your ex before starting a new relationship. Otherwise, you’re deceiving yourself and unfairly playing with your current significant other’s feelings. That’s a bit of a lose-lose.
Your Public Displays of Affection aren’t just angering the school hall monitor these days, they’re getting in the way of your friends and family being able to have a good time around you. When you’re making loud, smacking kisses at the dinner table, try to remember that your other relationships are important too — and your friends and family generally aren’t too keen on all the kissy-kissy. There are few better ways to tell your friends they’re being excluded than a short make-out session in front of them. But, honestly, you should probably just tell them that straight up. At least that would be less off-putting.
While it takes a social acrobat to walk the tightrope between decisiveness and including others’ opinions, it’s a balancing act that nonetheless must be learned. “What do you wanna do?” is a surprisingly dangerous question, and, when asked too often and without conviction, it can lead couples to boredom, anger, and a constant feeling of having “settled” for whatever activity is eventually decided on. Don’t be rude or exclude the possibility of changing plans, but be creative and give your time together the thought it deserves. Although you open yourself up to critique if you pick a bad restaurant or have a dumb date idea (think ice cream in December, dinner at McDonalds), you’re at least showing decisiveness and a healthy amount of confidence by making a decision. But seriously, don’t get ice cream in December. Unless it’s with hot fudge. Then you’re a genius. Good work.