OK, you’re in a new relationship. You like this person, and you hope that it will last. You want some solid, tried-and-true advice on mistakes to avoid. So who better to ask than someone who has all the answers? Someone who is there for you 24/7? Someone who won’t ever get sick of your questions?
That’s right, a stranger on the internet! At least that’s who I went to at the start of my most recent relationship. A quick Google search of “new relationship mistakes” brought me a flurry of tips sure to lead me to success.
“5 Things To Avoid In A New Relationship,” click. “Do NOT Mess These 9 Things Up With A New Boo” scrolling. “11 Photos Of Tiny Animals Hugging,” save to favorites.
I devoured tips from my friends (websites) until I was sure I knew exactly how to act around my love interest. There was no way I was going to mess anything up. Relationship solved. I am a God.
But alas, as time went on, it became clear that I am but a mere mortal. I committed at least five of the cardinal new relationship sins. I held my breath waiting for my S.O. to go AWOL, but he never did. Nearly a year later, my mistakes have yet to come back to haunt me. It got me thinking, maybe these seven common rules need some revisions.
Mistake: Don’t get physical too early on.
Revision: Let’s get physical (as soon as you’re both ready).
I suspect this tip may also be rooted in the fallacy that certain people (ahem, all ladies) are not really interested in sex, and that other certain people (cough, cough, all men) are only interested in sex. Wrong and wrong.
When it comes to sex, we all have different comfort levels. For some people, good sex is a prerequisite for a good relationship. They would hate to get a month in, become emotionally attached, and find out there’s absolutely no physical chemistry. For others, spending that time developing an emotional connection makes them feel ready for the physical stuff — and makes it more enjoyable.
The only way to make sure you don’t do something you don’t want to is not to do it. Try saying that three times fast (because it’s important). But if you are both cool with making moves, it’s totally reasonable to lay out your expectations. You can say things like, “I want to have sex with you tonight, and I also want to keep getting to know you as a person tomorrow.” If they are on the same page, great. Put on some smooth jazz and attempt to light a candle before you realize the wick is too short, and you can’t get it without burning your hand. However, if you find out you have wildly different expectations about sex, it’s likely you won’t gel on a lot of other things either.
Mistake: Don’t fall too fast.
Revision: Don’t be afraid to catch feels.
If you are going to catch anything from a new relationship, feelings are definitely the best option. And if you do find yourself connecting on a deep level early on, there’s a good chance the person you’re dating is experiencing the same thing. If they aren’t or they don’t want something more serious when you do, you’ve just saved yourself some time. Either way, there’s really minimal risk in being honest.
In the case you find yourself falling for someone who is slower to trust, you may have no choice but to respect their boundaries. This means allowing them to develop feelings at their own pace. If you are comfortable with this, great. If patience isn’t your virtue, it’s time to move on.
Mistake: No social-media stalking.
Revision: One way or another, I’m gonna find ya.
Once you start dating someone new and gather minimal intel, you can do a quick dive into their Facebook, Instagram and, everyone’s favorite platform, Linkedin. And maybe this is going to sound like unsound advice, but I believe that descending into that deep crevasse is not always a bad thing.
You can learn a lot about a person from their online presence or lack thereof. The rule of thumb is if a profile is public and self-created, it’s fair game. In fact, many people even link their Instagram to their dating apps. It’s a nice way to share your vibe and may make it more likely you’ll find someone whose lifestyle matches yours.
It only becomes murky territory when you find yourself on your prospect’s ex’s public profile, a year deep, looking for pictures of them together. Not only does this enter creep territory, but you are also at high risk for liking a photo accidentally. That is real bad, I’m guessing… OK, I know, from personal experience.
You can also, by all means, choose not to hide this behavior from your date. It’s OK to say, “hey now, I looked you up on Facebook and saw that you love the band Smashmouth. You’re an all star. Let’s go see a show.” You’ve found a common interest (apparently the ’90s) and a super-fun date idea.
Mistake: Don’t talk about past relationships.
Revision: The best is yet to come and babe won’t that be fine.
We learn copious amounts about ourselves every time a relationship fails. Exes represent what we want — or, equally importantly, don’t want — from another person. Opening up about the past is a way to strengthen bonds with a new person, let them see your vulnerability, and show them what you need from a partner.
No one over the age of 16 is a completely clean slate. Even if they haven’t had a serious romantic relationship, they’ve had relationships with friends and family. They’ve experienced crushes and heartbreak. In fact, if there is a time to talk about exes, I firmly believe it’s at the dawn of something new. Once you’ve established a solid routine with your new boo, the exes really should be left out to dry. There’s much juicer stuff ahead.
(Note: If you spend your whole first date talking about your ex, it’s a good sign you aren’t over them.)
Mistake: Don’t text or talk on the phone too much.
Revision: Call me if you wanna reach me.
There’s nothing more fun than a good text conversation that just flows. You get that flutter in your stomach when you hear the telltale ping of a response. You wonder if it’ll be flirty, funny, or just plain cute.
Many of us have so many commitments that it can be hard to see a new person more than once or twice a week. Texting and calling can help strengthen the relationship during the hangout downtime.
The caveat? When you are out with friends or busy at work, put your phone away. It’s OK to take a break, but it’s also OK to spend three hours at night rotating positions on the couch as you send GIFs to your heart’s content.
Mistake: Keep your friends and family out of it.
Revision: Get by with a little help from your friends.
It’s common to want to keep a new relationship, which can feel like a fragile baby bird that may hit the pavement if you push it out of the nest too soon, close to the chest. Although it’s important to get to know someone you’re dating one-on-one, there’s also something to be said for showing them who you are around your friends and family. After all, the people we surround ourselves with help define us. Spending time together in a group will add to the get-to-know-you work you are already doing as a couple.
Plus, if these people play a major role in your life, it’s vital that your partner at least gets along with them — and visa versa. The theory is if you enjoy the company of your match, it’s likely your friends and family will, too, but science requires testing. If your new boo is comfortable with it, don’t hold back from making a fun event even more fun by adding them to the invite.
Mistake: Don’t get too comfortable.
Revision: I woke up like this.
Sorry, 1990s England, but there’s no need for “Keeping Up Appearances” here (that joke is going to kill with anyone who loves saucy British comedies from 30 years ago). We all want to put our best foot — and face — forward on the first few dates, but that standard of shaving and primping is unsustainable in the long term.
If you and your partner are sharing a bed, they are destined to wake up and see you a mess before you can sneak out and fix yourself up. And even if you haven’t gotten to that point yet, trying to hide frizzy hair and farts will only end in you being embarrassed when they come out accidentally.
I’m not suggesting you go into your relationship pooping with the door open (save that for the living-together phase), but you don’t have to pretend you have no bodily functions. If they like you for you, your quirks, like a rogue pimple or a laughing snort, will only endear you to them more.