Relationships With Men

A friend said something to me recently that made me promise to compile a list of dating and/or relationship advice for her. I give you my guarantee that you will find something in here to love and laugh at. It’s not finished. Yes, I’m a hypocrite.

If you’re older, you’re in a quandary. Any man you find is going to have a history. If he’s been alone for a long time, he’s telling you he either is very happy staying that way or he’s been traumatized by the process. Either one will wear you out if you’re with him. The other alternative is that he’s been with a lot of women without commitment. That brings its own issues. People are meant to be with people, no matter how much we piss each other off and disappoint one another. “I don’t need someone” is a yellow flag.

“Sex is like the playground. Intimacy is foremost. But you shouldn’t expect each other to sit on the bench at the playground. The equipment is there for enjoyment.” – X

That tingly feeling, or butterflies you feel? That’s your common sense fleeing your body.

Find a man who looks at you like a piece of cake or his favorite beer.

Don’t expect a man who’ll ask if you want something to drink. Find a man who will know what you like and bring it to you without asking.

Find a man who doesn’t hesitate to give you reassurance. It’s not needy. It’s normal. In my opinion, anyone who balks at doing so doesn’t have the empathy required to love deeply.

If you’re interested in someone, tell them. As soon as you can muster the courage. No man worth having will worry about not being the one to initiate.

In the initial stages, if you find yourself waiting on him to call or text, shout “Next!” He’s either playing games or letting you know he does indeed have connection issues with you.

Men find the time if they are blazing for you. They call. They text. They make plans and keep them. Anything else is at least a yellow flag. Don’t accept less. “Next!”

If your potential partner kisses you with firm, hard lips, he’s no good. You think I’m crazy? Think about it. That includes pecking.

Do your best to not chase someone who seems to be reluctant. It’s hard, I know. It’s an adult response to tell them, “I feel like I’m chasing you and I don’t do that if I can help it. It’s time to move on.”

“I’m not looking for a relationship” versus “I’m not ready for a relationship.” Those are two vastly different sentiments. The latter should be a warning to you. They are hedging their bets. That reluctance will translate into problems for you if you don’t know the difference.

“I’m not interested in being spoken to like that” is one of the most powerful things a woman can practice saying and learn to say. A man who likes you will listen. A man who will use you will be defensive and threatening.

Enthusiasm is a great predictor. Are they excited to see you? About life? About having to unload the dishwasher? No one with a lackluster attitude makes a good partner. This is doubly true if you’re generally outgoing and optimistic. They’ll make you feel stupid for being energetic.

If your partner puts in a lot of effort, make sure you do the same. Unequal partnerships tend to fail. If your man isn’t showing effort and patience, he’s not the one for you long-term.

Don’t be with someone who hides their feelings, even if they are otherwise good or good-looking. They are hiding more than their feelings. You’ll be trying to fix this forever.

Expectations are not standards. Expecting a potential partner to behave a certain way is almost impossible. But standards regarding any behavior are yours alone to determine. These standards translate as boundaries. Know what they are before you start dating. And communicate them as directly as you can. If he screams in anger in the early stages (much less threatens physical harm or actually doing it), he’s going to do much worse after you’re invested in him.

Find a man who knows that the bathroom is yours and he has just enough space for his five items. A man who has more than deodorant, a razor, soap, and the cologne you like is too metro to put up with. Yes, that’s only four things. YOU get to pick the fifth item. Fight me if I’m wrong.

Likewise, having two bathrooms will save a lot of relationships. But most of the second one is still yours, too, even if you want to put up horrid guest towels and decorative soaps.

If someone gives you the silent treatment early in a relationship, it will only worsen later. Communication will diminish to the point where anger builds a nest around your heart.

Most men know what “catch and release” means. Remind them of that if they aren’t the one for you. The longer they are out of the water, the worse it is for you both.

“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” – Joan Crawford If you can’t open your heart fully, it doesn’t matter what the intentions are of the person you’re with. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has been burned by love. But it’s essential to living a full life. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, but we are wired psychologically and emotionally for one component of it to be that kind of love.

Men don’t like pillows all over the bed and couch. Learn to laugh about it.

Don’t be an option for anyone, no matter how many butterflies are swimming inside you.

“Ask a man the best book he’s read since high school. It doesn’t matter so much WHAT the answer is. How long it takes him to respond or how he answers will tell you all you need to know about how elastic his mind is.” – X

“If a man watches SportsCenter an hour a day while you’re dating, he’s gonna watch five hours a day after you are.” – X This is gospel. If you’re okay with that, that’s cool. If not, get another man.

Never date a man who won’t drink after you – or let you drink out of his. A corollary to this is that you should take it as a red flag if he legitimately objects to you eating off his plate.

“Love, at first sight, is possible, but it pays to take a second look.”

Unknown

A red flag for a man is if he keeps his truck or car detailed. Men who love moments don’t worry about the aesthetics of their vehicle. There are very few exceptions to this. His car should be cluttered – just like yours.

Keep in mind the Rhianna joke: unless you are her, tell your man that you are not going to love the way he lies.

In any relationship, make sure that you are the crazy one. It will save you a lot of tears. And unless you’re an onion, that will wear you down.

“Once someone told me: ‘Put your finger in your partner’s nose. If it disgusts you, it means you’re not in love.’” – The Internet

Treat a man like a magazine subscription. Get a few months of issues in your life before you pay for it.

If you’re older, it is safe to date a man who isn’t great-looking. No risk of passing on his ugly genes because you’ve already had your kids. You can love a man with a sense of humor and just turn off the lights. It’s easier than being with someone super attractive.

Being wanted while wearing a bikini is easy. After six months, your man should love seeing you in a t-shirt and with your hair messy. And if your hair isn’t a mess afterward, he is not the right one.

Lingerie is highly over-rated. It might be a component of his fantasy life, but he will be just as lit up by your enthusiasm and Royals t-shirt as he is by crazy, frilly underwear.

Never be with a man who is afraid of therapy, or looks down on those who need or want it.

If a man wants to be honest with you, even if it’s painful, see it as a gesture of love. If he didn’t want to be with you, he would do like most people do and just leave, to avoid potential conflict or discomfort. Staying and saying the hard things is a nugget of pure gold.

“Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you’re in.” — Richard Jeni

When a man tells you that you are beautiful, believe him. Likewise, he needs to be able to say that yes, your butt does look big in those jeans or that your favorite shirt reminds him of a jailbreak. You’ll know by the way he touches you that you light him up.

“The ideal husband understands every word his wife doesn’t say.” — Alfred Hitchcock

“Love is telling someone their hair extensions are showing.” – Natasha Leggero

If you both don’t have a lot of laughs, you can’t be happy. Yes, it is that simple.

Don’t fight about the color of the couch. Fight about who gets the last bite of ice cream. And always offer it to one another.

Always choose a man who wants you to be pleased first. It’s one of the biggest red flags. Yes, in bed. And everywhere else. If both of you have this attitude, it’s hard to ruin.

The clever way to express the above paragraph is this: “Nice guys finish last.”

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” – Oscar Wilde

Trust your instincts if you feel this way!

If you haven’t wanted to use a skillet on him at least a dozen times, it means you’re not experiencing the depth of love characterized by depth of feeling. It also means that you’re avoiding conflict. Anyone worth having will have habits that drive you nuts. But it will also keep your life interesting.

“Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs.” — Miss Piggy

“Always kiss after an argument. Even if you tell him to kiss your ass.” – X

You cannot be happy with a person who doesn’t text you back, or comfortably say “I love you” when you do. There are exceptions, but someone who can’t say “I love you” when the fire is burning hot will piss you off exponentially later.

“I don’t dance” is a red flag. Even if they look stupid, they will dance with you in the living room.

If your man doesn’t randomly reach out to touch you, hug you unexpectedly, or want to sit with you, even if it’s intolerably warm in the room, he needs to be left outside.

If your relationship is healthy, no man will ever utter the words, “This is how I am. Take it or leave it.” Leave it and find someone willing to change and adapt.

He should show you appreciation each day, even if only to acknowledge that you haven’t kicked him in the shins. Because he’s certainly done or said something stupid. Little things matter just as much as the big things.

Quality time matters. But so does incremental time. A good man will seek connections that are quick, too. They will share moments or interesting things. If they don’t, although you would be reluctant to trust me, it means that he doesn’t love you creatively or intimately. “Strong and silent” always ends up, “Strong and gone.”

A good man will be afraid for you to meet some of his family. Because some of them are crazy and don’t want him to be happy. He will take you anyway, trusting you to respond with humor when the lunacy starts. Even when Uncle Steve hugs you in a weird way.

Never be with a man who hesitates to tell anyone that you are together. There is almost no exception to this rule. If you ignore it, you’re in for trouble. It’s possible for him to be going through a divorce or separation that necessitates VERY temporary privacy. Everything else is a large waving red flag if he wants to limit who knows about you. It’s toxic and if you acquiesce to it, you’re asking for trauma and heartache.

Ask for a man’s credit report. If it’s bad, he will still gladly show you.

If your man has one DWI, he might be worth it. If he has two, throw him back to the sorting pile. And if his mother answers to the name “Butch,” pick again.

Ask your potential man, “Tell me a story where you did an ex dirty or behaved badly.” All men have at least one such story. If he won’t or can’t, he’s misbehaved a lot and you’ll be next.

“Do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.” – Anthony Robbins

Never date anyone who has nothing positive to say about any of his exes. If they are all bad in his mind, either he has poor decision-making ability, or he is the bad one.

Likewise, if he is really close with one or all his exes, be very cautious. Good partners can be friendly with exes, but it should be extremely transparent and you should be welcome to have a voice and presence in these arrangements. If you don’t both agree and have the same expectations, find another man before investing a lot of time with him.

Every relationship is work sometimes. But clock in and grab his butt. Light-hearted intimacy is a glorious indicator of both interest and enthusiasm. Just because it requires work doesn’t mean it doesn’t pay well.

What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door. If you smile, another man will knock. Trust me.

From Beth on Yellowstone: “Because you have all the p****, and half the money…”

“Men with pierced ears are good. They already experienced pain and have experience buying jewelry.” – The Internet

The joke in today’s world: you can touch each other, but not each other’s phones. Keep that in mind.

The Phone Enthusiasm Rule: if your potential man is sitting on the couch tired and his phone rings… if his level of energy jumps and he suddenly starts sharing with whoever is on the other end, it’s a signal he’s not engaged with your conversationally and probably emotionally. This is a generalization. But it’s exactly like watching a co-worker greet everyone else with a bright smile and energy while mumbling “hey” to you. There’s a reason for that and over time it becomes almost subconscious for them.

If a man is really into you, you won’t have to beg for texts, phone calls, or time. He already has shifted his life to make time. That some men can do so means that most men can. They just don’t want to. Find another man.

If a man tells you that you’re asking too much, you are asking the wrong person. Don’t dampen your energy, your laughter, or your need for intimacy. For any man. Emotionally unavailable men easily convince women that they are unreasonable.

If you feel like you have to chase a man for attention, time, or energy, get another man before you’re too far down the road. It is easy to fall in love despite that feeling.

“You wouldn’t know love if it kicked you in the fangs.” — Lorena (True Blood Season 7, 2010)

“You can of course find someone special using online dating. But you can also use YouTube to teach yourself how to take out a kidney.” – X

Relationships fail when the boat has too many passengers. Your canoe should hold two tightly and three if one of them is in the water. Keep your partner in your mind and close. Leave everyone else outside the boat but in your life.

You can’t be happy with someone who won’t provide you with the physical intimacy you crave. If you outmatch them, they will be threatened. And if they outmatch you, you will wonder where they learned it. Remember that it doesn’t matter how they got there, it only matters where they end up.

Ask and you shall receive. And if you don’t, ask it of another. Seriously. You know what you like and what you love. Ask twice if necessary, but never a third time.

True love is halitosis and still kissing.

Love is unconditional. Relationships have boundaries. It’s hard to keep that in mind and separate them. Almost impossible.

The Kink Rule: if there are sexual things you enjoy that your potential partner doesn’t like, it greatly decreases the odds you will be happy long-term. It’s one of the reasons it is better to scare him off as soon as possible if he’s not compatible. The same holds true for him.

You need to openly talk about sexual rejection before you fall in love. These expectations erode relationships when each person has different reactions to it. Talk as candidly as you can. Your sexual energy will decline eventually. Your intimacy doesn’t have to. You need to be prepared.

Your partner should be the one who hears about your ups and downs first. If you don’t do this, over time your connection will erode. Find someone who actively wants to hear about yours – and share theirs, too.

Don’t romanticize who a person could be or their potential. Start a relationship with the idea that they’ll probably BE that person.

Unless you’re a handyman or handywoman, don’t plan on fixing anyone.

If you love someone and you are both happy, your relationship doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Stop letting prevailing notions affect your partnership. It’s all between you and all the shoulds disappear if you’re both happy and satisfied. No matter what it looks like to others.

Telling someone how you feel can’t ruin a good relationship long-term. If you are afraid to share with your partner, it is hard to blame them when they are reacting to a version of you. It’s a popular cliché to say that talking about your feelings should never lead to an argument. If it does, that dynamic is waving a red flag to you both.

Note whether someone “can’t” with you, but “can” with others.

If a man drinks or uses drugs often (and especially so when you don’t), it greatly increases the likelihood of disengagement and unacceptable words and behavior. There are exceptions – but not enough to warrant a serious look.

A good man will say nice things to you and about you. If they stop, the honeymoon is over. If a man noticeably stops complimenting you, you’re in trouble. Likewise, if he’s overly critical of you or begins to swap compliments for criticisms, it’s time to talk.

A good partner shouldn’t have trouble regulating his emotions. There’s a fine line between passionate and batsh!t crazy.

A good rule of thumb: the hotter a man is, the harder it is for you to be rational. Our biology is the culprit. I’m not recommending that you find an ugly man, but if you’re with someone who is eye candy, remember what too much sugar does to you. You’ll put up with a lot of crap from someone who is better-looking.

Avoid men who criticize instead of complaining. It’s a subtle difference and hard for most people to put their fingers on. There is a difference and one will wear you down emotionally.

Find out whether your potential partner has different ideas about what ‘tidy’ and ‘clean’ mean. You’re going to argue in the long-term if your man isn’t as ‘tidy’ as you are. 9 out of 10 times it’s the woman maintaining your place, fair or not. Also, don’t let a man avoid doing his share of the chores, housework, or cleanup. Even when dating.

As comedian Simon Taylor said: “Ahh, Tinder. The crystal meth of online dating.”

If you think you’re in love with someone but it’s draining you, you need to listen to the voice in your head and how much loneliness or feelings of unworthiness are keeping you from finding someone who listens to you and lights you up.

I don’t remember who said it, but these are wise words of dating advice:

Don’t. If you do, be careful. Lastly, you’re going to do it anyway because chemistry and biology inevitably drive you bonkers if you don’t.

If you are independent and stable, red flags aren’t warnings: they are deal-breakers. You need to decide what those might be before falling in love.

You are not selfish for wanting the same love and enthusiasm you give to your partner to be returned in equal measure. If you feel like you are, you need to look hard at your relationship expectations.

If they give you distance when you need love, find another man. Life is short and the primary purpose of a partner is love and companionship.

“Someday you’ll meet someone amazing who just gets you. And they won’t want to date you either.” – The Internet.

Be who you are so that you don’t have to worry about slipping up or being inauthentic. The man you’re interested in is going to find out anyway.

Whether you think so or not, most men are intimidated by you.

Everything is negotiation. If he won’t, move on. If he pushes you too far past your comfort zone, examine it closely.

The Magician’s Observation: you’ll look at him like everyone else has disappeared.

An easy way to learn a lot about your potential man is to fold your arm around him in public when you start dating. Or reach for his hand to hold. If he is reluctant in the first stages, he’s going to be a royal pain in the ass long-term. There are no exceptions to this except in cases where a man has no hands or arms. If he shows reluctance around certain people or friends, he’s hiding something.

The Friendship Reciprocity Rule: it’s okay for your man (or you) to have friends of the opposite sex. But… the only way it will work is if you’re always welcome to be friends with them, too, and be with them comfortably. I learned and earned this one the hard way. Each case is different. But if he has female friends you don’t know, can’t communicate with, or anything less than transparency, run. If he’s flirting with his female friends, sexting, or anything across your boundaries, he’s keeping his options open or using the attention. Whether it’s harmless to him or not, if it bothers you, it is not harmless to you.

Most people are “independent” until about 11 p.m. at night. It’s an old joke. It’s true, though. Take note of how your interactions spike and at what hours of the day. If a potential partner puts you mostly on hold until sundown, it generally is a bad sign.

It’s also a bad sign if he won’t commit to making plans short-term. Trust me, he’s making plans with someone. Most people, with some exceptions, have their phones on them most of the time. “I’ll let you know by 5 p.m.” is a hell of a lot better than silence or something vague. Ten seconds is all it takes to send a quick reply or emoji. They can’t be playing Diamond Crush all day.

The Four Horsemen, as they are called: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. Especially when arguing. It’s not about WHAT you fight about, it’s how. Any of the four will kill your chances. Pay attention.

Although I touched on it earlier, if your man generally has a low opinion of all women through his comments (not just his exes), run. Most people of both sexes are generally good people and want to be happy. Anyone focusing on their experiences to justify statements such as “all women are _______” has larger issues that you’ll have to endure.

Most men don’t care if your nails are done. Most don’t even notice them. Men also don’t care if your legs are perfectly shaved, either. In fact, I personally believe that ones who do are prone to being a&&holes.

When someone is pissed off, you are not speaking to the person, you are speaking to the mood. Learn early if they need a little space or prefer to argue without using it as an excuse to be mean-spirited.

A good man will want to share his tastes in music with you. But he’ll be equally fascinated to know yours, too. If he’s selfish about it, take it as a larger sign.

When you first get to know a man, use these questions: “What kind of washing detergent do you prefer?” “Does your vacuum cleaner use bags or is it bagless?” “How do you like to cook your vegetables?” They seem innocuous but convey a lot more information than you’d think. Pay attention.

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The above list is not all-inclusive, nor universally applicable.

Love, X

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2 thoughts on “Relationships With Men”

  1. I had to laugh at the couch color comment. We recently purchased 2 black leather sofas. For Tim it was love at first sight. Me, not so much. But, they are comfortable. I knuckled under and said, “If you want them, buy ’em.” He did. I cringed until they were delivered. They work in the room. I NEVER would have picked them. They are enormous and can hold 8 me size people and 10 Ana sized people. In this instance, love meant giving Tim’s tastes and preferences equal priority to mine own. For the record, he made the right choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lord help you. I hope you didn’t TELL him that! 🙂 I’m just kidding. Be careful with Tim – he will begin to believe he is an interior designer. You’ll end up with longhorns on the living room wall.

      Like

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