Okay, so where did we leave off last time? Ahh, yes, with some things that you should "do" in relationships. Now, on to the flipside of my non-professional opinion!
10 Relationship Don't's:
1. Don't talk negatively about your partner to others.
This is a tough one. Let's get serious - sometimes your partner is going to do something that drives you crazy, or makes you want to go postal on unsuspecting victims. There are going to be times when you need to vent about it to someone. Newsflash: That's okay! The trick here is to make sure that you're speaking about your partner in an objective way, and not a negative way. There is no need to drag your significant other through the mud when he/she has done something that doesn't suit you. You can discuss a situation without ranting about it. Also, a sidenote here that I've learned from experience: if you want to have a venting session, it's always better to do this with a friend and not your family. God love them, but they will judge your partner FOREVER on everything and it doesn't matter if the judgment is made on good things or bad things.
2. Don't stop planning together for the future.
We, as humans, were designed to move forward. Stationary is not in our DNA. When you stop creating dreams with your partner (especially dreams for your future together), you drift apart. Think about it - it's good to set goals and have dreams for yourself. I want to get this job. I want to one day afford a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. Whatever floats your boat. The same is true of your relationship. Set goals for the future. One day, let's try to buy a house. In three years, let's start having children. Let's renew our vows at ten years. Let's save our money and plan that amazing vacation we've always talked about.
3. Don't be automatically defensive.
This is one that I constantly struggle with. What can I say...I'm nothing if not scrappy. Sometimes, I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between a calm, constructive conversation and a full-blown ambush-style attack. I work really hard to practice listening over defending myself because sometimes, it's genuinely not necessary. Sometimes, people tend to miss the point of the conversation because they're busy plotting their rebuttal to the first thing that was said. This is not a good, nor effective practice, and therefore, it made my don't list.
4. Don't be the end-all, be-all in your relationship.
Okay, say it with me, friends - "Smothering leads to death." I have a hard time keeping my lunch down when I see a couple who is so imbalanced in regards to time spent apart from one another. I have literally had to force myself to not react or say something I shouldn't when I see someone literally go off because their significant other is hanging out with his or her friends. Oh, the horror. It's good for you to have friends. It's good for your partner to have friends. It's good for each of you to see said friends on a semi-regular basis. Everyone gets busy, but time should be made for friends. If your man/woman wants to have time with their boys/girls, let them go - even if you don't have any plans for yourself. (Cue horrified face.) Use that time by yourself to read a book, take a bubble bath, watch a movie that your partner doesn't want to see, do laundry, exercise - take time for YOU.
5. Don't lose yourself.
This one goes hand-in-hand with number four. Oftentimes, I've witnessed people who completely change when they start dating someone new. They're more concerned with being whomever their partner desires rather than being themselves and finding someone who wants who they are. Here's a fun fact of the day - dating is usually hard. The "right one" is not dangled in front of your face for a reason - you have to do the work! That's why you date. You don't decide that you like someone, then figure out what they like, and then turn yourself into that, all chameleon-like. It's not healthy. Don't drop your friends and family and become obsessed with the person you're dating. The right person will fit into your life because they are a part of your life, not because they've become your entire life.
6. Don't go to bed angry/don't leave angry.
There are different schools of thought on this one, but I'm on team "don't do it." I can get behind the "take a few minutes to cool down" scenario, but I cannot accept someone rolling over and going on with life as though nothing happened. Something happened. Hash it out in the calmest and most constructive way you can. The goal is that both parties can go to sleep satisfied about something. Everything might not work out just the way you wanted it to, but it will be better in the morning, even if you are tired and cranky. I'm also big on not storming out on someone when you're angry. Number One, you SHOULD NOT be driving when you're that emotional. Number Two, how is the other person supposed to trust you to stick around if you are constantly showing them that you'll walk out? No bueno and no me gusta.
7. Don't allow fear to be the driving force in your relationship.
In life, crap happens. Someone most likely will treat you badly in some form and you will be forced to carry the baggage of that around (maybe even for the rest of your life). While it's unfortunate, you're not alone in this, and the trick is to not let the baggage weigh you down. You cannot punish your new partner for an old partner's mistakes. They are not the same people and should not be compared to one another. It's okay to use what you've learned and experienced in past relationships to make your current relationship better, but you have to really be attentive and know when you're allowing the fear of what happened before hinder what could happen in your future. Don't beat yourself before you even begin something beautiful.
*Sidenote: In all honesty, if you feel your baggage is too heavy to deal with, please seek out a therapist. There is absolutely no shame in that, and there is an entire profession that exists to help people with all kinds of situations! All you have to do is seek help.
8. Don't value being right over being a loving partner.
If your relationship's dialogue consists more of, "Boom! In your FACE!" than anything else, there's probably some big issues there. We all love to feel the high of being right. Even better? The high of knowing that other people know you're right. That's okay, but you have to keep it in check. Don't put more into proving to your partner that you're right than you do into finding a solution. Who cares if your partner swore up and down that Richard Gere starred in Dirty Dancing when the entire world knows it was Patrick Swayze? I've witnessed folks get downright nasty about something as trivial as that, and it was sickening to see them revel in embarassing their partner in front of people. Uh-uh. Not cool. Need more info? Check out number one of this very post.
9. Don't use what you have as a weapon.
Your love. Your intimacy. Your families. Your kids. Your secrets. Your dreams. All of the things I just listed are the puzzle pieces that your relationship is made of. These are things that are sacred and precious to you and to your partner. How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh yeah? Well, you just cost yourself ____." "You can consider the kitchen closed." "Well, if you're going to be that way, I guess you won't be needing ______." Do not threaten your partner with any of these things. That is a low blow to beat all low blows.
10. Don't define love as a noun.
Something I've come to understand is that love as a noun is ephemeral. (Ephemeral means 'lasting for a very short time.') It's conditional. "I'll love him as long as he never does this." "If you ever cheat on me, I'll leave." There are many conditions we've all heard before that "determine" whether or not someone will stay with their partner. I've also seen so many times where love was spoken but not done. I try to define love as a verb - it's something that we do. Saying the words doesn't make them so. It's the actions that make someone understand that you're in this for the long haul. I am starting to understand unconditional love in relationships. I've seen people go through things that I've seen ten other couples end a marriage over. Guess what? In about 90% of those cases, the couples who stayed together and worked through their issues are some of the happiest and most fulfilled people I know. The ones who left? They've bounced from relationship to relationship because they accept what is as status quo. They don't stand and fight for their relationships. I choose love as a verb.
*Sidenote: There are some things that SHOULD NOT be accepted. Abuse is one of those things. Putting your partner in danger is one of those things. There are always exceptions to any rule, and I would never encourage anyone to "stay and fight" if they're up against someone who takes that literally. If you find yourself in a situation like that, please ask for help and get out. The right person is out there waiting for you, and you don't have to take that anymore.
As I've said in the posts before, these are simply lists that I wanted to jot down primarily for myself. I want to take my own advice and I want to put to action what I've learned over the years. I'm not qualified, nor should I be used as the end-all, be-all for your relationships. I don't want any, "Well, Miss Chicken Wing said it so it must be so" situations on my wings. (Get it, I could have said 'hands' but that would be silly.)
I hope we all can help one another out in making our relationships better than ever! I want us all to be more than happy, and I started this series because I get asked for advice when people see that I've lived through certain situations. I figured that there may be someone too shy to ask, and maybe these could help you out!
Until next time,