1. Smile. Someone is watching and wants to say hi.
2. Don’t have a type. Or, at the very least, date outside of your type.
3. Be forgiving. As tempting as it is to pour a can of beer on the head of your ex, remember life is long and you’ll probably bump into him again.
4. But don’t take him back. There’s a reason you broke up. Maybe he lied and cheated; or, maybe that was you. But, either way, you didn’t bring out the best in each other – and that’s not enough for love.
5. Stop agonizing over your dating app messages. Write what comes naturally. If he doesn’t think you’re clever, move on. Your time is better spent constructing messages to your friends and family who already love you.
6. Be kind on the first date. It takes courage to show up. If your date isn’t equally respectful, don’t go on a second.
7. Stop worrying if he likes you. Worry if you like him. You are equal players in this relationship. Don’t give him the upper-hand by stressing over if he thinks you are pretty. And by the way, he does, or he wouldn’t be there with you now.
8. You may not immediately know he is The One. But you should know pretty quickly that you want to spend time more time together.
9. Don’t compare him to your ex. Sure, your ex was better at making dinner reservations – but he was also a pathological liar who thought Tevas were appropriate hipster attire. Admire the person you are with for who he is; or, don’t be with him at all.
10. Say goodbye to your ex. I tried to stay friends for an ex for longer than I should have. It didn’t help either of us move on. So, take it from me and say adieu sooner than later. It doesn’t mean there’s a grudge or hard feelings; it’s just for the best.
11. Don’t insult his family. Yours isn’t perfect either and if things workout, his family will be your family soon enough. They’ll grow on you; or, maybe, by the time you have kids, you can inhabit Mars – but don’t insult his family.
12. Don’t date someone who insults your family. It’s one thing to lovingly tease you for your uncle’s Dad Jokes and another to make you feel ashamed of your roots. Don’t deal with the latter. It’s probably his own insecurity but don’t waste your time trying to find out.
13. Trust that he is being honest. I’ve been lied to and cheated on; I get the temptation to be cynical – but believe that he is different and is telling the truth. He is trying just as hard to believe in you. See tip #9 again.
14. Let go of your insecurities. Do you really think he’ll stop loving you if he finds out you bite your nails, had bangs in 5th grade and enjoy eating ice cream alone on Fridays? Chances are he’ll find your flaws endearing – or at the very least, tolerable. Besides, you have plenty of redeeming qualities See tip #7 again.
15. Don’t judge your friends’ relationships. Okay, so this is more for them than for you – but the less you judge them, the less they’ll judge you. Relationships are esoteric. You will never know what happens when you aren’t watching, nor how it makes them feel. Believe that they are wise enough to make good decisions. Bonus: this will give you more time to focus on making your own smart choices.
16. Accept that you can’t predict the future. You don’t know if one of you will fall ill or become wildly rich or poor. All you can do is use the information you have at-hand to make the best decision you can at the time. The rest is just a crap shoot and we are all in it together.
17. Don’t yell at him. Your time together is short and sacred. Why waste it being angry? Of course, you’re allowed to express your disappointments but be rational, kind and forgiving. You’ve probably let him down at times too.
18. Leave him love notes. Sure, a heart-shaped emoji will make him smile but there’s something spectacularly romantic about never knowing when you will find a tangible letter saying, “I’m the lucky one.” Surprise him. He’ll probably return the favor.
19. Don’t be afraid of feeling like you need him. Love is a symbiotic relationship. Know that if something ever happened, you are strong enough that you’d be okay.
20. Remember to say “I love you” every day. It took you both a lot to get here and you are so lucky to have found one another.