8 Pieces of (completely unsolicited) Relationship Advice

By Christine Arnold.

Let me preface this by saying, I am 24 years old. I am, in no way, a relationship guru, nor do I claim to be. However, it is my professional opinion that, as a fairly well-adjusted, semi-adult, I have a pretty healthy outlook on relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships, siblings, etc. It’s all relative. While some of this advice is romantic relationship-based, a lot of it can be applied beyond that 20-something dummy who takes 2 days to return your texts and wouldn’t know romance if he put it in his bong and smoked it. Without further ado, let’s get started…

 

8. “Never go to bed angry…” Unless you’re tired. Then go the fuck to sleep.

I’ve never entirely understood why going to bed angry is such a no-no. I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired I’m cranky as fuck and have the patience of a 2 year old, which often makes me inherently angry in the first place. These ingredients are not a recipe for a mature adult conversation. Example: tired, sloppy Christine (who’s about 4 beers deep) and her then-boyfriend decide to finally discuss his decision to move away after he graduates. Because you know… why not?! Drunken pillow talk is the PERFECT TIME for this conversation. You see, at that time, he was a Chicago-bound senior, and I was a junior, most likely moving to LA after I graduated. He had been teetering between LA and Chicago, but hadn’t “made a decision yet.” Naturally his decision brought about a deeper conversation about…dun, dun, dun… our future. Or if you’re me, just a bunch of tears and nonsensical angry blubbering. Needless to say… we accomplished nothing by trying to figure out this giant mess of a conversation before we went to sleep. We eventually gave in, fell asleep and put our adult pants on in the morning to figure it out. Moral of the story, next time you find yourself in a disagreement and it is well past your bedtime, it’s most likely that you’re not going to accomplish anything productive. Eat a snickers, go to sleep, and reassess in the morning.

 

7. Know when to call a time-out.

Last year my roommate and I started working together. We thought it’d be fun, and didn’t think much about how it would affect our friendship… Until it did. We quickly figured out that we had polar opposite ways of working, and our communication about those points of friction was greatly lacking. It all built to a head one night and all of the sudden we found ourselves screaming and in tears. Now this was a far cry from our normal relationship, and it caught us completely off guard. It took a few starts and stops, but we managed to take our space, call our moms, vent it out, and then come back to talk to each other in a more calm and constructive way. We also ended up quitting that job because *sidenote* our boss was an complete fart-bag.

Players, huddle! When you feel yourself building to that explosive place it’s absolutely okay to call a time-out. Take a breather so that you can form your thoughts in a clear and constructive way. When you’re agitated and emotionally caught up in the heat of an argument you tend to throw those below the belt punches that egg each other on and get you further from the real issue. The reason we fight with the people we love is because we love them, and we want to understand them/be understood by them. Hold on to that knowledge, and know when you need to take a step back to gather yourself. Aaaaaand break!

 

6. Learn each other’s “Love Languages.”

I’m sure most of you have heard of The 5 Love Languages book. Men, calm down, I’m not going to make you read it. But there is great merit in understanding how your partner shows and recognizes love. According to the book there are 5 “love languages”: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. A friend of mine, let’s call her Betty, is a big fan of physical touch. She loves to cuddle, hold hands, all that jazz. Her man, however, tends to show his affection for her by giving gifts. Now, these “gifts” can be anything from a cup of coffee or something he made (he’s crafty) to that new iPhone case she’s had her eye on. While she loves these sweet gestures, she often complains that he’s not the most affectionate. Thing is, and she’s aware of this now, that he just shows his affection for her in a different way. They’ve talked about the different ways they show their love for each other and now are more aware of meeting in the middle and incorporating each other’s love languages in their relationship. For the unbastardized actual advice from the actual book: click here.

 

5. Let’s talk about sex, baby. 

We here at YNBF think sex is a great part of a relationship, and that, just like all other parts of a relationship, it needs to be talked about. You and your partner need to find a way to be comfortable talking about S-E-X. What you like, what you don’t like, what you want to try, what you never-dear-god-no-absolutely-not don’t want to try. Too many people are scared to talk about sex with their partner, and therefore end up feeling self-conscious or sexually unfulfilled. That’s not fair to you, cause you deserve to get yours. It’s also not fair to your partner, who wants to give you yours – and probably get theirs, too! Talk it out. Then try it out. It’ll be better for all involved.

 

4. You can’t fix each other.

We all know the type: the brooding, emotionally distant, commitment-phobe who is endlessly appealing. He’s not really a relationship guy, he’s “been through some shit”, so it’s understandable that he’s distant. He just needs someone like you to show him the light and open his eyes to true love. FALSE. You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT “fix” someone. People are people, not Chip and Joanna’s next Fixer Upper. (love that show). While it may seem super romantic to think that you can cure someone of their baggage and emotional impotence, the short of it is, you can’t. Someone cannot and will not change until they themselves are ready. They have to be willing to put in the time and effort to address their own problems. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a support system for someone, but it does mean that you can’t expect someone with those kinds of issues or attitude to drastically change just because you waltzed into their life. This is a lesson I will admit I preach more than I practice. Because, as I said, these guys are endlessly appealing. I’ve run into a few of them in my day, but thankfully I’ve got my friends, family and therapist to point out all the GIANT SCREAMING RED FLAGS that I like to conveniently forget about when something cute texts me.

 

3. Acknowledge each others’ feelings.

My ex and I dated for 3 years, and I will always have nothing but wonderful things to say about him. Seriously, all my future flames should write him a thank you note. (Only don’t…that’d be weird.) One of the most valuable lessons he taught me is that no one can tell you what you feel is wrong. If you feel it, it’s real. Keep this in mind when dealing with others as well as to remember your own feelings are justified. Also, if you’re ever with someone who tells you your feelings are wrong, RUN. You ain’t got time for that bull shit.

 

2. Don’t cheat.

I feel like I shouldn’t even have to include this, but LORD, don’t cheat. It’s that simple. If you and your partner have agreed to monogamy, then stick to it or get out. And truly, if you’re finding it that hard to keep your junk away from “not-your-significant-other’s” junk, then there are some deeper issues a-brewing. That brings me to point b. If your significant other is uncomfortable with your relationship or interactions with someone, pay attention to it. Don’t just call them paranoid and brush it off. That would be like telling them their feelings are wrong and invalid (see tip 3). Really examine your behavior, and ask if you’d be comfortable if you and your partner’s roles were reversed. Would you be okay with it? If so, then maybe further conversation needs to be had about where that insecurity in the relationship comes from. Maybe it’s a simple miscommunication, or that they miss you and want to spend more time with you, or even a difference in love languages (see tip 6). They may feel underappreciated or distant from you. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed with some good old-fashion adult conversation.

 

1. Tell them what’s bothering you.

People are not mind readers. While sometimes you wish they were, and even think “Wow I’m dating an oblivious moron, sometimes things are better left SAID. (And this doesn’t just go for a romantic partner – this is hugely applicable to friendships, work relationships, etc.) The simplest way to address this issue is to ask yourself “Have I told them what’s bothering me?” If you haven’t, then I’m sorry to say, you can’t assume they know. Because then you’re just being mad at someone for some reason they don’t know about, and getting more mad that they don’t know why you’re mad or that you’re even mad in the first place. You can see how this would be a vicious cycle. I was talking to my mom (who’s, like, relationship guru OG) about this, and she brought up a great point. Just because your partner can’t read your mind doesn’t mean they aren’t a good partner. It just means they’re human. Which brings me to my final, and possibly most important point:  for the love of god, passive aggressiveness is not the answer. It’s confusing, feels unwarranted, and often results in animosity and resentment. Does that sound like a recipe for success? I think not.

 

Alright. I think that’s all. You’re ready to get married now.