New year, new blog posts. First of all, I want to thank all of you who read these. Although my Instagram has taken off as an easy and more popular way to share content, the core of TPG has always been this blog. Each year since I started in 2016, my unique visitors and views for this blog have more than doubled. It means a whole damn lot to me that I am able to share my ideas with so many people and more recently, collaborate with you to share yours. With that, let’s get started.
I’m often messaged for advice about relationships and situations that have gotten too messy to handle. And (no shade), I am always surprised to see how deeply entwined some people get into newer relationships. I’m a big supporter of love, but I also think there are many small (unsexy) steps you can take to be smarter about your own this year:
- What the Hell is the Damn Rush? I feel like so many people jump from one relationship to the other, perpetually trying to find the right thing right now. First of all, remember to set aside some time for yourself after a break up or significant relationship. Hell, set some time aside after a failed two-night stand. If you are any amount of serious about relationships, they can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. You are doing yourself and your potential partner a disservice by not taking a little time in between things to account for what you learned, what you want, and how you could have done better (if possible). Don’t let things like your loneliness, the season, or your friends being boo’d up dictate your own timeline. If you have stumbled upon the one, and they are really, really the one, they will be there for you when you’re ready. There is no such thing as a timeline.
- Separate. Everything. Although it seems super cute and convenient to do absolutely everything together, it might not be smart to get a family phone plan, apartment, and car lease with a guy you’ve known for a couple months. I keep hearing about guys in this scenario. While I understand needing to split costs for your budget or simply to survive, I would suggest doing so with a friend or family member before a new significant other. A new relationship is enough pressure, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you need the person for money and cannot express your true feelings when times get tough. Resist the urge to combine your lives early on. I’d say 6 months to 1 year is a good time frame before combining anything at all (but read on…)
- Make. Contracts. This is super unsexy, but a critical exercise. Forget their legal enforceability (I really don’t want any of you to end up on daytime court tv), but a simple Word document is helpful to set clear expectations for people when money or things of value become involved. For instance, if one of you moves in to the other’s space, clearly define who owns what furniture, how joint purchases will be split if need be, how you will split utilities and associated start-up and termination fees, how you will split the rent and how it was determined (i.e. market rate, utilities included, etc.), how much time a party has to move out if a break up occurs, who your pets belong to and who will be paying for things like their food, medical expenses, etc. Another big area is if one person lends money to the other. I understand the instinct to bail out someone you love, but I would suggest exploring any other option in the age of making quick money on your phone. But, if you must, definitely make a contract stating if, how, and when the other person is expected to pay your money back. It might take time and awkward conversations, but I promise these steps make things easier down the road. Even if nothing happens and you never need the contract, both of you will feel a lot more comfortable and empowered during the relationship knowing what’s what.
- Make Time for Your Regular Life. We all have that friend who completely falls off the face of the earth when they’re in a relationship, and we all know how annoying that friend can become. While you will likely be over the moon and excited about your new relationship, make sure to make time for friends, family, school, work, and your own interests that you had before the relationship. It can be very hard to spend time apart, especially in the honeymoon phase of a relationship or when you have a lot in common with someone; however, it’s important to have that time to think, reflect, and maintain the goals and non-romantic relationships you were passionate about that got you to this point. You will feel better about yourself by doing this, whether or not your new relationship continues forever or has to end at some point.
- Listen… Even if it’s Not What You Want to Hear. In the early stages of a relationship, people often feel more comfortable to reveal their true desires and expectations out of a partner. Use this time to actually listen to your potential partner and soak in where they’re at in their journey for a relationship. If they want something casual and explicitly tell you they’re not ready for something serious this year – don’t close your ears and try to force something on them. In my early dating days, I was often guilty of this. “I can convince him of what he doesn’t even realize he wants.” God bless the cockier, younger me who dealt with all of the backlash of that approach. Make sure to listen, express yourself, and regularly have conversations about what you expect from a relationship, what you’re receiving from it so far, and how both of you can adjust to make this thing successful. If no one talks, no one knows.