10 Timeless Relationship Truths

Whether you’re the one struggling with relationship problems or offering friends a shoulder to cry on, everyone can benefit from learning these 10 timeless truths about love, dating and relationships.

By Sara Hodon

e’ve all offered up that sympathetic shoulder for our friends to cry on. We’ve gotten that frantic, tearful phone call from our BFF after a breakup to soothe a broken (or at least seriously dented) heart. We’ve offered advice, given pep talks, and even conspired to help them seek revenge on the exes who wronged them a time or two. And in most cases, we’ve vowed not to repeat some of the same mistakes in our own love lives. Easier said than done, though, isn’t it?

Our lifestyles may change, our priorities might shift, but there are a few lessons in love that remain timeless. Below is a sampling of 10 hard-and-fast dating and relationship truths that,
Your significant other should bring out the best in you.
unfortunately, many of us have had to watch our friends learn the hard way:

1. Don’t expect others to always help you find dates.
Who wouldn’t want to boast that they were responsible for bringing you two crazy kids together at the wedding? But if it seems as though it never works out with the guys or girls your friends set you up with, it might be time to stop letting them play matchmaker. Other peoples’ acquaintances may genuinely not be a good match for you, after all. If that’s the case, then stop asking them to set you up or politely decline the next time someone offers to make an introduction on your behalf. Instead, change your approach — give online dating a try or work up the nerve to say hello to the next guy or girl who catches your eye.

2. Nurture your individual self after coupling up with someone.
Just because you’re in a relationship now doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties with your friends and family in favor of spending time with your sweetheart. Make an effort to keep up your regular routines and spend time on the hobbies you enjoyed when you were single. Your significant other should bring out the best in you, not try to change you completely or monopolize your time and attention. By nurturing yourself as an individual, you’ll keep the relationship fresh, exciting and interesting.

3. Relationships are hard work.
You can’t expect to work 12-hour days or keep the same social schedule you had in college without it eventually putting a major strain on your love life. There are more stressors in our lives and demands on our time than ever before — everyone is trying to do so much more with a lot less, whether it’s time, money or attention. But if you don’t put your relationship near the top of your priority list, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get the “I think we need to see other people” talk. If you’re crazy in love but also crazy-busy at the same time, you might want to rearrange your schedules to fit in more quality time together as a couple. And make sure you’re both making the effort to keep that spark alive. “A relationship should have its ups as well as downs. If it’s all hard work, though, stop trying to make it work and just get out,” advises Shannon Fox, coauthor of the recent book, Last One Down the Aisle Wins.

4. You can only cry “wolf” so many times before people stop listening.
You love your partner one minute, and then hate him or her with the next breath. Some high-maintenance couples thrive on the excitement of on again/off again relationships. That’s fine, but don’t keep dragging your friends into it (or letting yourself get dragged into a friend’s drama, either). People can only counsel and console each other so much — don’t keep expecting your friends’ sympathy the next time you split up. Figure out why you keep getting back together with a seemingly toxic match and either try to make it work one last time — or cut that person loose for good. (When and if you do, remember to apologize to your friends for not listening the first time.)

5. Sure, maybe that cheating ex has changed — but probably not.
We want to be supportive when a friend tries to reconcile with a dirty, cheating ex, but unfortunately, we know that old habits are not easily fixed. It’s even harder to accept when we’re the one faced with a dirty cheater ourselves. Hear the cheater out, but go with your instincts — it takes a lot of work to rebuild broken trust. “He or she is not going to get over ingrained bad habits, addictions, or character flaws. This type of person is not in control, and it would take years to get that kind of behavior under control, so there’s no hope here. Face the loss, let go, grieve as much as you need, and move on,” suggests Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again.

6. Resist the urge to use the “It’s not you, it’s me” line during a breakup.
Your soon-to-be-ex
It’s all part of getting to know yourself again after a split.
knows that’s not true, by the way. You know it’s just an excuse people use so they don’t have to go into detail, so get to the point: be honest, but consider the other person’s feelings, too. The truth might sting, but if you have specific reasons why you’re no longer in love with him or her, it’s better to share them now than give the other person false hope that a future reunion might happen. In the long run, honesty pays off much more than a terrible love cliché ever could.

7. When the relationship ends, a clean break is always best.
If you’re serious about splitting, don’t let things linger. Collect whatever possessions you might have left at your ex’s place and don’t wait by the phone to hear from him or her. By sticking to the “no contact” rule (no texting, emailing, or stalking each other online!), you’ll be able to focus on what’s important: yourself. Give the other person (and yourself) time to heal and move on with as few distractions as possible.

8. After a breakup, take time to let yourself mourn.
Don’t feel pressured by Mom or anyone else in your life to get back on the dating scene before you’re ready. “Breakups are messy. This is your time to be in the moment, for good or for bad. If you put too much pressure on yourself right away to ‘get over it,’ you will only prolong the inevitable crash,” says Paige H., a 28-year-old communications director from Wilmington, DE. Sure, you could be meeting some great people — but it won’t matter if your heart’s not into dating again right now. Grieving helps you process your emotions and stop and think before repeating any past relationship mistakes with someone new.

9. Move on — but avoid rebound flings if you can.
Resist the urge to hook up with the first guy or gal who gives you a second glance once you’re officially single again. Give yourself some time to get over your last relationship before you go after someone new, even if you crave the self-esteem boost that a fling could (temporarily) give you right now. Otherwise, you risk leading someone on and spreading your own heartbreak along to an innocent party. It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to the other person, either.

10. Watch out for odd behavior following a breakup.
Maybe you suddenly decide it’s time to lose those 30 extra pounds or get inspired to paint your kitchen lime green. Go for it! Some of these changes may be good for you; others… well, let’s chalk them up to a case of temporary insanity. (If the urge to do something truly bizarre and out-of-character hits, call a trusted friend to talk it over first.) A little experimenting with your look, surroundings or routine is normal; after all, it’s all part of getting to know yourself again after a split.

Armed with these time-worn tips, you should be more than ready to tackle a new relationship when the time is right — or have a handy cheat sheet on standby for the next friend that calls you looking for advice on how to deal with his or her own dating drama!

Sara Hodon is a freelance writer based in Northeast Pennsylvania. She is a former columnist for Online Dating Magazine and has not written a book about her experiences in the online dating world (but easily could).
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