20 Important Relationship Rules, And When You Should Ignore Them

Yesterday, contributor Rachel Harrison wrote a wonderful article titled “20 Important Relationship Rules That Are Often Ignored.” It was a solid arrangement of words, filled with many great wisdom nuggets. However, because the internet is a non-stop discussion that you’re somewhat forced to overhear–and because rules aren’t always finite–composing a rebuttal of sorts seemed like a semi-interesting thing to do:

It Can Happen To You
It Can Happen To You

1. Be Honest.

Lying is for sure ill-advised, but as the great Sydney Fife once said, there are simply some things that we should choose not to tell–things that don’t necessarily have to be borderline relationship violators, either. Sometimes, keeping certain things between your same sex friends, or simply yourself, is plain healthy. Your life is your life; healthy relationships generally operate in a way that lets the other person into your life significantly, but ultimately the degree at which you do that is up to you.

2. Compromise.

As Rachel aptly notes, “It’s about finding a healthy balance in compromise.” Meaning that compromise isn’t Second Avenue in Manhattan, with cars speeding down in only one direction, not giving a shit about anything else in its way. Compromise then, is more like 23rd street–really annoying at times, but very much necessary to maintaining proper traffic flow.

If you find yourself on Second Avenue a little too frequently, it means its their turn to compromise. Push back upstream, and make that left on 23rd.

3. It’s healthy to argue.

Very healthy. Arguments though, are also about timing–while it’s sometimes its necessary to leave it all out there, other times it might be more productive to wait till tomorrow; when you both have a moment to sit down and talk about what’s wrong in a more mature, non-pillow throwing manner.

4. It’s not your job to fix the person you love.

Unless you are Dr. Jack Shephard, and your love needs spinal surgery.

5. Understand your significant other’s background.

Admittedly, this is very crucial. However, especially if you two are from strikingly different backgrounds (as aptly demonstrated in the critically acclaimed film “I’m Rich And You’re Poor, But Let’s Dance Together”) ones background can easily be exaggerated, and your lack of questioning can eventually turn into some sort of manipulation card.


Given the sensitive nature of people’s backgrounds, the disconnect here is often tough to discern. But sometimes, it’s actually healthy to push those upbringing boundaries–doing oftentimes enables comfort zone expansion, something that keeps relationships fresh and interesting.

6. Do not underestimate the power of thoughtfulness.

Unless that thoughtfulness is him surprising you with chocolate peanut butter hearts, despite you having a dreadful peanut allergy. 

7. Do not limit expressions of love to grand gestures.

True, but also do not limit expressions of love to simple gestures. Casually whipping out an engagement ring while curled up on the couch may not always be the best call. Sometimes it may be the best call, but grand is grand for a reason–in addition being pronounced the same as the surname of tremendous young singer Arianna Grande, grand underscores the magnitude of your gesture. How deep is your love?

8. Take all advice with a grain of salt.

I wouldn’t so much ignore this rule as tweak it. Instead of taking all advice with a grain of salt, you should probably take all advice with at least 42 grains of salt.

Remember, the person that is now telling you how to handle your relationship also once passed out in a pool of ranch dressing.

9. Research.

This very funny special came out on Netflix yesterday. This clip talks about the benefits of being unprepared:


10. Value each other’s interests.

Unless their interest involves forcing you to spend half your savings account to go to some four day music festival in the Nevada desert that you have zero interest in going to, thus forcing you to sacrifice half of your precious vacation days. Though if that’s the case, it’s probably time to say peace out.

11. If you are not getting something you need, ask for it.

This is always a tricky game. Being too up front with this can lead to a weird “give and take” relationship predicated more on how much can be squeezed out of the other. Dangerous road to go down.

12. Do NOT get your sex tips from Cosmo.

But if you’re a guy, definitely read Cosmo when your girl is on the other room. Mind-bogglingly entertaining.

13. Nobody understands your relationship.

Rachel states there are no exceptions to this rule. This is technically true, but if we take the universal maxim approach that “no exception” rules are predicated on (I once skimmed a few chapters of Kant for a philosophy class), this means that universally agreed upon relationship violations, i.e., cheating, or spending all the other’s money without them knowing, may not be considered bad.

Even more important than that douchey logic is the fact that while all relationships are a bit different, they all run on common threads. In other words, relationships are different, but relationships are similar!

People fall into similar situations all the time. Gaining different perspectives can’t exactly be harmful.

14. Follow the Harry Burns Airport Rule.

The Harry Burns rule is “Do not stop doing things you used to do in the beginning of the relationship.  If you used to take your guy/girl to the airport, still take them.”

Sometimes traditions become outmoded. Realizing this, and learning to embrace change an evolution, will keep a relationship moving forward. I wish I could add some sort of joke here, but this is the truth. Also, airports suck.

15. Spite will get you nowhere.

Spite won’t get you nowhere–it’ll get you to the toxic, increasingly inescapable doom that is the poisonous relationship chamber. So yeah. Spite is probably bad…but you do need it in order to survive, so figure out how to channel that shit in a way that doesn’t affect your relationship.

16. Split the bills.

In a perfect world, yes. But in a perfect world, communism isn’t a failed principle.

Just like in our capitalistic and #hungry society, people in relationships oftentimes has disparate incomes. The bills then, should be adjusted via some sort of relationship-evening quotient.

Money, in reality, is simply one thing that a relationship needs to survive. Money therefore, can easily be one person’s responsibility (man or woman) so long as the other person provides the relationship with his or her fair share of equally important things.

^This was all explained in brutally pathetic fashion, but I think you know what I’m getting at.

17. Accept that no one is perfect.

I believe this is really close to the title of a Hannah Montana song. Total Banger. Hashtag and z suffix sold separately.

18. Don’t be afraid to have the tough conversations.

I don’t know. I am fucking terrified of that sort of stuff. I think you’re not normal if you aren’t…the tough conversations are oftentimes the difference between spending three months from now going over the wedding seating, and spending three months from now really getting into pretzel nuggets that are also buffalo wings.*

That said, you should of course have them. Unless you suddenly die, you actually have to have them. It’s how time works.

*These exist, and I recommend them highly

19. Trust your instincts.

Unless you’re instincts are wrong. Then get really mad at them so they have to try and win you back by buying you some cool shit. Then don’t accept their apology, so they buy you more cool shit. Totally how to succeed in a relationship.

20. Be wary when discussing relationship troubles with your friends.

Because they are so lonely. And they’ll really begin hate you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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