The following is a great little anecdote from one of my favorite people. The last couple of lines are sublime:
When I worked at Windstream, I would often take my lunch to Reservoir Park (in Little Rock) when the weather was pretty. Just to get away from the stress at that building and sit in nature.
One day when I was in the park, I saw a dog (of course) walking around. I tried to get it to come to me, and it wouldn’t. I watched it as it moved on. About five minutes later, an older woman came fast, walking by, carrying a leash. I started the car and drove up to her. I asked if she was looking for a white dog. She said, “Yes.” I said, “I know where it was headed. Do you want me to take you that way?” She hesitated and then said, “Please.” She got in, and as we were driving, we exchanged names, and I told her where I work and that I had been eating lunch when the dog came by. She said they lived at the end of the park.
We located the dog. It was on a path where the car couldn’t go, but we could see it, and she would be able to catch up. As she was thanking me, she told me to please be safe, and then she laughed and asked, “Didn’t your mother teach you not to pick up strangers?” I laughed and said, “Yes! Just like yours taught you not to get in a stranger’s car.” +
After seeing how many people read my posts about relationships, it confirms that everyone is interested in having a full life that includes a relationship.
People are uncomfortable. Most of us want to be happy and to be loved in a way that we minimize to other people. We want to feel normal, whatever that is. We want to let our guard down, forget our history, and forgive ourselves for the misfirings of our previous attempts at being lovable and loved.
The basic premise of the things I write is that you have to drop your guard and be the person you want to be your partner. Whatever behavior, words, and attention you seek, you must telegraph that in everything you do. If you don’t, it’s not reasonable to expect your potential partner to live up to that standard. Most of us don’t take the time to honestly just DECIDE what it is that will light us up and make us happy.
The dissonance of not allowing yourself to feel and hope with abandon based on the past is a struggle for everyone. What if I get hurt? What if I hurt someone, and that someone could have been my ideal partner?
It works in reverse! You must be that person first, the one with an open heart and a loving soul. Yes, you could get your heart shattered. Of course, that is a possibility.
The alternative is to keep being guarded, distrustful, or fearful.
If you do, which might be understandable, the outcome will be a lonelier and less fulfilling love life.
If you surrender to the possibility of hurt, you at least open yourself up to the chance of being loved the way you’d like. If you don’t, you greatly reduce your odds of getting there.
You can’t control the world, much less other people.
But you can BE the image of lovingkindness to your partner.
Anyone who doesn’t appreciate that openness and effort is foolish. They will look back one day and know they missed their chance. Probably while they were chasing an imaginary and unattainable relationship without changing themselves.
There is hope for you, if you’re not living a life with someone who lights you up. If there weren’t, what would be the point?
Surrender a bit of yourself and open up to the chance, the hurt, and also the love.
Please stop reading if you’re uncomfortable with sexuality.
I didn’t polish this post. It’s not perfectly well-expressed. That’s okay because I’m not sure my subconscious allows me to process and share exactly what I want or need to.
Most people can’t rationally and calmly think about their partner’s fantasy life, which runs congruently in their heads, whether they are physically with a partner or alone. This is true even though they undoubtedly experience their own. Imagining them getting pleasure by thinking about being with another partner naturally stirs up ancient reactions in our lizard brains. As a result, a lot of couples never openly talk about what goes on in their heads.
Sometimes, they don’t even dare to discuss what gives them pleasure.
Studies regarding fantasy life yield some conclusions that cause discomfort. Some of the most common female fantasies are sex with strangers, sex with a specific celebrity, sex with multiple people, being dominated, sex in unusual places, oral sex (giving and receiving), exhibitionism, forced/reluctant sex, rough sex, same-sex encounters, sex with previous partners, watching others have sex, age discrepancy sex, and even romantic/passionate sex. Men share a great deal of the same fantasies. A common denominator in them is novelty, taboo, or things they’d most likely not participate in.
It’s hard for many people to distinguish between fantasy and life. It triggers an avoidance reaction. That’s because our brain renders real what we imagine. We feel the excitement but also the stress, jealousy, or other unintended issues about ourselves.
The truth is that you can’t really know what is going on in your partner’s head most of the time. But if you’re participating physically, you should focus on your partner’s pleasure. If they aren’t comfortable talking about their fantasy life, there’s a reason. It’s usually complicated, partly because we are still programmed to avoid discussing it. Yes, even when we are in a committed relationship or marriage.
Our largest sexual organ is our brain.
It’s a rare couple who can freely share fantasies without animosity, jealousy, or other emotions. Brain studies reflect this.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” dominates many people’s lives.
It doesn’t help men to know that women are far superior biologically to them concerning sexual activity and pleasure.
Because our brains are adept at creating thoughts (or dreams) that our body reacts to physically, it is no wonder that fantasy life is so crucial for sexual fulfillment for so many people.
They just don’t talk about it. Not really. The outliers do, that’s true.
I think anyone reading this should read all the major sex studies about sexual pleasure. At least those who are interested in their sexuality. You can Google it by searching for “Most common female sexual fantasies” (or male) and then focus on the percentages of frequency for all types. It might surprise you. At a minimum, you won’t feel so freakish, of that, I’m sure. If you’ve not considered it in depth, though, it might bring discomfort. It might also bring revelation to both you and your partner.
One of the best examples is cuckolding, wherein a man shares his female partner with another man. Over half of men in almost all studies report using it as a fantasy. The mechanisms to explain this can be complex or simple, both from an evolutionary/biological and social viewpoint. It goes against our basic tendency toward jealousy or territoriality. It’s not rational. And that’s the point.
One of the most common fantasies is a threesome. The odd thing for me? That doesn’t arouse me at all to imagine being with two women. I know that sounds like I might be lying. I am not interested in touching two women simultaneously. Both of us pleasuring my partner, though, that is arousing.
Imagining my partner in a threesome, however, is arousing, no matter the combination of sexes. It’s not something I could deal with in real life, though. In a fantasy framework, it’s arousing.
If I transpose that same scenario and try to imagine her having done it in real life, it acquires a negative cloud immersed in retroactive jealousy. It is very hard for me to process rationally.
The same is true for fantasies involving virginity.
Like most men, milf eroticism is arousing, as is the idea of my partner giving someone their first experience. For reasons that fascinate me, it turns me on. Hearing about such real-life encounters in that capacity is another thing entirely. Personally, though, I do not enjoy fantasies of being someone’s first sexual partner. I know that seems contradictory, but it’s entirely normal – not that “normal” is really normal, anyway. I suppose it is to be expected that for me, being taken by someone for the first time is arousing, as is the idea of my partner doing so. But I admit I tread carefully about imagining it in real life, as those thoughts bring unwanted consequences. I’m hard-wired toward monogamy. The commonality of both scenarios is the excitement of finding one’s sexuality or the gift of such an offering.
I realize that I seem to have contradicted myself. Cuckolding fantasies don’t interest me per se. Yet ones where my partner gives someone the gift of their first sexual experience do. I’m guessing it doesn’t trigger the same emotional and visceral jealousy response.
As for my retroactive jealousy, like most people, I have to be able to be sexual with my partner while being aware that some of these fantasies are playing in her head or what gives her literal physical pleasure.
I recently heard someone say, “Don’t be afraid of her toys. They are teammates, not competitors.”
I have to appreciate fantasy life in the same way.
Whether people talk about it or not, it is a huge part of their sexuality.
I was sexually active during my previous adult life, of course. I underwent a transformation when I realized that there were things I liked that surprised me. Being with someone who you trust helps. Knowing they find pleasure in it is what makes it sublime.
When they do share, it’s important that you protect their secret fantasy life. It’s secret for a reason.
Everyone should explore as much of the playground as they can. For love, for intimacy, for each other. Where there is trust, it is immeasurably easier.
Trust yourself and trust your partner.
I trust mine. I’d be in a world of hurt if I didn’t.
And remember, fantasy is not reality. Don’t judge. Or try. That’s hard enough for most of us. We are harshest to ourselves.
If you’re an adult, you should not be worried about responding quickly, double-replying, or being enthusiastic with your communications. Anyone worth your time will appreciate the energy and contact. If you feel that you’re reaching out too much, be aware that someone who dissuades you from doing it isn’t your ideal partner. Move on. The initial stages of chemistry or interest always start with enthusiasm and interaction. Always. If you’re being told it’s too much, move on. I’m being totally serious. People love knowing that what they say is interesting. When they hear it from someone they are wild about, they will encourage that behavior, not minimize it.
People seek out interaction of all kinds when it’s from someone who lights them up.
Without getting sidetracked by all of it, the dynamic of anxious versus avoidant personalities inevitably gets tangled up in this issue. Some people begin to question themselves or get the idea that they are extra. But maybe extra is what the other person really needs. Maybe they’ve never had it before. Or, more likely, they are not far enough down the timeline yet to appreciate the fact that attention and affection are one of the rarest commodities and should be cherished.
As always, put yourself into the shoes of both sides of the argument.
It feels true because you know it is.
When you’re head over heels or enthusiastic, you crave the other person’s interactions.
Please don’t lessen yourself or back away from being extra.
Someone will appreciate it and tell you constantly.
Generally speaking, someone who thinks you are the cat’s meow will do nothing except encourage your interactions. And reciprocate by doing the same for you. Even if they are busy, tired, or distracted by the million distractions that come at us in this modern world.
Preface: A while back, I warned y’all that I’d write more things outside my comfort zone. The analytics are clear, though: posts about relationships, behavior, or anything adjacent to these topics are read by many people. I’d suppose it is because relationships are the central element of our lives. Most of us experience the same issues.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been on both sides of the coin.
I’m not ever going to be on the other side again.
I’ve been to therapy to discuss all these issues in detail. I’ve read every major relationship and sexual study out there. I’ve spent a lot of time digesting the conclusions. They all convince me that the blueprint I followed for most of my adult life is the only way I can be happy. To remind myself, I ask myself where not doing things the right way led me. Obviously, I was off course! Had I not been, I’d be happily married to someone who follows the same relationship blueprint I’m looking for. I can’t blame other people, not really. Not taking time for deep consideration would result in further disappointment for me.
And because it’s the only way to happiness for me, I’m assuming it will be more than enough for most people.
There is a difference between adultery and infidelity. Don’t fool yourself. Infidelity can be equally damaging. It violates trust, a promise, and commitment to your partner. It involves breaking any romantic, emotional, or intellectual agreements that you share. It does not require these agreements to be spoken. It’s true that boundaries and expectations between people might vary. But if you think rationally, you’ll discover that most of us have the same expectations. We certainly overlap regarding things that we know would hurt us.
Infidelity: any action or behavior that either makes the partner doing it feel guilty – or any action or behavior that is kept hidden or secret because the partner is aware that it will cause emotional hurt. This is true because it is infidelity to the relationship the moment either half of the first sentence becomes reality.
Don’t overthink it. It’s simplicity in its rarest form.
“Fidelity” is an old word, coming from a mix of “loyalty, faithfulness, trustworthy.” Generally speaking, if you can’t write it, say it, or do it openly and in front of your partner without a reaction, it probably falls on the wrong side of the line. You might argue and fight my interpretation. Obviously, though, behavior and words that are intentionally kept from your partner must have some impetus toward concealment. Motives may vary. The consequences don’t.
Behavior that is benign rarely gets cloaked. (There are exceptions.) If you don’t trust your partner to react rationally, that signals a bigger problem between you. The act of concealment, misdirection, or minimizing deservedly draws scrutiny. It’s not rational to keep things from your partner based on how they might react. Their reaction, if they are your ideal partner, won’t be out of proportion or indicate anything other than their confusion or hurt. You have to put in the work when misunderstandings arise.
Healthy relationships with an ideal partner require transparency.
Transparency is a child of honesty.
Stop defining infidelity as a specific act. If it triggers you to conceal or if it will hurt your partner to see it, hear it, or hear of it, it’s infidelity. Yes, I know my comments are a bit general.
Examples: flirty behavior, however you define it. Giving someone the impression they hold your interest. Secret conversations in any form. Sexual innuendo, as it leads to the false (or correct) interpretation that you are available. Sharing your time and emotional energy with someone. We all have a set amount of time, focus, and energy. If it’s spent with someone else, it’s done to the detriment of the relationship. Etc. Again, these are general comments, not an exclusive or inclusive list or blueprint. I didn’t include any physical examples because I’ve distinguished between adultery and infidelity.
Infidelity is a huge slippery slope of defense mechanisms, explanations, and rationalizations. A kiss, though physical, is infidelity.
The behaviors that get hidden or concealed are the stepping stones to a breach in your emotional intimacy.
The modern era makes it harder to honor your relationship.
Just reverse roles when you’re engaging in actions or behaviors that trigger recognition in yourself. How would you feel if your partner did it? That’s how you know you need to do things differently.
Compassion on a fundamental level.
We all want to be loved and appreciated. To achieve that, we have to learn and follow behaviors that contradict what led us to where we are.
It was raining. Of course. The bullets hit our heads like tiny bullets, each of us wincing and not wanting to react. We stood in a cluster, looking at the green carpet someone had carefully laid around the opening in the ground. Each of us was secretly holding back tears. Our incredulity was plainly and painfully written across our faces.
The minister somberly pronounced the words: “La Tremana,” he said, and something broke inside me. As I began to cough and sob, my burst of emotion triggered those around me to do the same. Within seconds we were indiscriminately turning and hugging those around us. We could feel her loving presence floating in the rain-soaked air.
No one around me knew what the minister’s phrase meant—no one except the woman laying in artificial repose in the closed mahogany casket and me.
“La Tremana” was a phrase she and I coined to describe a fantastical and imaginary place. Perhaps somewhere we would go one day if life and troublesome timing would let down its guard long enough.
As the years passed, we added details and layers to what it might be like. The coffee shop down the corner, the cigar-smoking man who would politely tip his hat at both of us but never utter a word, and the exchange of stupid jokes, ones which would make most people cringe. If we met someone interesting, we would add the person to our mental catalog of people who might join us in our other world.
We loved each other when we were young. As young people often do, we fumbled and failed to appreciate each other. Our love always remained as a backdrop, even as we married other people, had children and enjoyed the little things that make life feel like a real one. For several years, we wrote letters. Ones detailing our lives. And then technology stepped in, and we would sometimes trade messages over instant messenger or email. We never graduated to text messages or phone calls, silently acknowledging that those might be too much. Or perhaps too emotionally dangerous for us to handle.
After my wife died, we wrote to one another more urgently and frequently. I feared she would go silent if I told her I wanted to meet. This thought seems trivial and stupid to me now.
The day I conquered my fear and wrote her, asking her if she’d like to meet, still haunts me. I told her I wanted to find a “La Tremana” for us to visit. I checked my email six of seven times that morning, waiting for a reply. I answered my phone late in the afternoon when I saw an unknown number calling. It had to be Rebecca.
Instead, a younger voice spoke.
“Dan, this is Rebecca’s niece Jane. I know you and Rebecca were close in a way most people wouldn’t understand.” A chill went up my spine as she spoke. The past tense echoed in my head. “There’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll just blurt it out. Rebecca died yesterday. I’m so sorry.”
I sat in silence for several moments. My vision dimmed, and I felt nauseous.
Because that’s what people do, I asked, “How did she die, Jane?”
“She was rock-climbing a rugged cliff. A rock broke away above her and crushed her as she stood on a narrow ledge, looking at the scenery. She fell over a hundred feet and never knew it. She died instantly. Her friend Susan was a foot away from her when it happened. Susan is beyond inconsolable. But we both like to think Rebecca didn’t know what happened. And that she was happy and seeing beauty when it was her time.” Jane’s voice broke as she finished the last sentence.
“I loved her, Jane,” I whispered. I told Jane the history between us, all of it.
“That’s beautiful and tragic, Dan! She would have said yes to you, you know. In a heartbeat.”
Before hanging up, Jane told me the funeral arrangements. Without hesitation, I told her I’d drive the couple of hundred miles to be there.
The pastor waited several moments as we collected our sobs and wiped at our tears. We were at the service for our own reasons but bonded by Rebecca and her life.
“Many of you know that Rebecca performed the marriage for my wife Lilian and me. She’s the one who told me to ‘go for it’ with a smile on her face. And I did. Rebecca wrote something a little over a year ago that her nieces asked me to share. I think you will find comfort and peace hearing them. In place of a sermon, I’d prefer to read her words, which better express life’s meaning.”
though it exists in a place we can’t reach by walking it is as real as anything tangible love isn’t touchable, but it is an abiding comfort and joy laughter isn’t felt by one’s fingers, nor is longing they feed our souls and give us hope and purpose
even as my life filled with obstacles and heartache there were always friends, always love, and always laughter
though I walked the earth with everyone a part of me permanently resided in La Tremana it is the ideal of one’s life created to suit you, filled with things you desire
you don’t need to travel to arrive close your eyes and imagine your best life
go find it and waste no time doing so With love, R.
After the service, I hugged all of Rebecca’s friends and family. Slowly, they made their way to their cars, stopping for impromptu whispered talks with other gatherers. The rain had lessened. Most ignored it. It was the least they could do. I stood near one of the large oak trees, watching them. As Jane made her final goodbyes, she turned and looked back at me. I waved, then nodded. She smiled and touched her heart with her right hand, a mannerism Rebecca once loved.
After a few minutes of standing under the tree and being lost in the past, I walked toward my car.
Against the serpentine and changing ocean shoreline, Bret curled his toes into the cool, textured sand. The sun disappeared over an hour ago, yet he still stood there, watching the lights of the beachside hotel and the occasional silhouette of a person moving in front of the lights. Elizabeth told him she’d be back in a few minutes so that they could take a walk along the shoreline.
He knew she was terrible with directions and often quickly lost her way. The hotel wasn’t THAT big, though. And it wasn’t THAT far away from the beach. As he turned and began walking towards the hotel, he could hear her voice calling.
Her voice was always a little higher than most. The modulation of the waves made her voice faintly waft toward him. He shook his head, wondering what mayhem her internal GPS had caused. He stopped and listened for her next shout. He heard her again when he walked around the building and the service area. A large block wall separated the parking lot. He laughed. Somehow, she had exited the hotel from the service exit and trapped herself between the walls.
“Hold on a second, Elizabeth!” he half-shouted.
“Bret? Get me out of here!” she shouted back, her voice going up another half-octave.
“Go back the way you came,” he offered. “I can’t see the opening. And quit laughing.” He laughed even harder.
“That’s what she said!” she added.
From the other side of the wall, she squealed with delight. “Heads up!”
Before he knew what was happening, a bucket flew over the wall. Bret laughed again and shook his head.
“Sweetie, why did you just throw me a bucket?”
“Duh!” she replied incredulously. “So you can stand on it and climb over the wall to come get me, dumbass.”
Bret laughed hard. “Umm, you could have used the bucket to climb over the wall yourself, so who’s the dumbass now?”
“Damnit!” She yelled while giggling.
Bret grabbed the bucket and threw it over without any warning. He turned and walked fast around the corner, turning to gain access to the barrier. When Bret rounded the corner, Elizabeth was up against the high brick wall, turned sideways, reaching to get her fingers across the upper edge. He carefully walked up behind her and goosed on the back of her upper right thigh.
One leg kicked backward, pushing the bucket away while her knee jerked forward, hitting Bret in the nose and knocking him to the ground. Her crotch landed directly above his broken, bloody nose. He still managed to laugh and smile and say, “Nice landing!” which made her howl with laughter at the absurdity of the situation.
As Bret stood up, the blood ran down his chin. “Let’s go to the ocean,” he said and laughed.
Elizabeth knew he wasn’t joking, so they walked hand-in-hand around the wall and back toward the waves. Bret’s other hand gripped each side of his painful, oozing nose. They didn’t stop at the shoreline. They continued to step out into the gentle waves until the water was at their knees. Bret leaned over and washed his face as best as he could. They both could only imagine what someone watching might think. Neither cared. That was one of their superpowers. Bret stood up and circled his arm around her waist, pulling her close. They’d go back inside in a few minutes to see about Bret’s nose.
When they woke up the following day, Bret’s nose was very swollen, and he had two black eyes. Elizabeth took one look at him and began laughing uncontrollably.
“That bad, huh?” Bret asked.
“I’m sorry to be laughing so hard! I know that has to hurt! I was just thinking about all the stories we’ll be able to make up to tell people why you have black eyes in our wedding pictures!!!” Tears were running down her face because she was laughing so hard.
“We could have someone be a stand-in for the pictures!” Bret replied. “Is that hot guy from your favorite show available?” He laughed.
“No, I already called his agent. You’re stuck! Besides, you look kind of hot with those black eyes. Bad boy, even. It could be a knee-jerk reaction for me to say so, though,” she added wryly.
“Oh, I’ll give you a knee-jerk reaction, all right,” Bret replied as he rolled over on Elizabeth and gave her a quick kiss, mumbling, “a wee-nee jerk reaction!”
Elizabeth laughed. The weenie joke was one of her favorites, even though it was so stupid and old. It made her laugh every time they used it.
That evening during their beachside wedding ceremony, Elizabeth kept giggling. Bret thought she was tickled at the two witnesses he found that agreed to be there for their wedding. Witnesses that she did not even see before the ceremony. One dressed in an inflatable T-Rex costume, and the other was a clown. He wouldn’t put it past her to use a fake marriage officiant, either. The pastor laughed when Bret leaned in and whispered, “This is a legal marriage, isn’t it?” The clergy replied, “Lord help you if it isn’t.”
Elizabeth giggled out her vows and “I do.”
Bret knew the clown and dinosaur were funny, but not THAT funny. She had tears streaming down her eyes from holding back laughter.
After their first kiss as husband and wife, Elizabeth let out a massive howl of laughter and bent over at her waist to catch her breath. Bret had never seen her laugh that hard.
“Do I have a big booger on the end of my nose or something??” asked Bret.
Elizabeth waved her hands and shook her head no. She was still laughing too hard to speak. Finally, she pointed down.
Bret looked at the bottom of her dress.
She slowly raised it to reveal that she was wearing a ginormous pair of clown shoes and rainbow stockings under her elegant, white dress.
She had also hidden two clown noses in her bouquet for a few pictures after the ceremony.
“Something else that kept getting me tickled was that I noticed how the colors of the sunset matched the colors of your black eyes!!!!” as she roared with laughter again.
During their wedding dinner that night, which was Pizza Hut pizza-of course!-they hatched a plan.
They would send out their wedding picture as their Christmas card this year. Each card would have a different story explaining why Bret had black eyes and a swollen nose in the picture.
When December came around, their stories ranged from a seagull attack, that he wanted his eye shadow to match the colors of the sunset, and “This is what happens to Bret when he tries to use his hemorrhoid cream as a moisturizer.”
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.”
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.
The above list is not all-inclusive, nor universally applicable.