3 Pieces of Relationship Advice I Agree With
“It’s better to be alone than be lonely with someone.”
“Relationships are all about compromise.”
“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness.”
Over all the years I’ve spent in and out of relationships, I’ve heard tons of relationship advice. Some are trite, like relationships being about compromise. Others have some value, such as being alone instead of lonely in a relationship. And others are just silly to me — if I can’t rely on my partner to make me happy, why am I with him? (Don’t get me wrong — it’s not his job to make me generally happy, but if he’s not actively trying to make me feel happy around him, what’s the point?)
I’ve had several long-term relationships. I was married for a few brief years and lived with another man — in both of those relationships, my partner was abusive in one way or another. After my last long-term relationship ended, I spent six years being single before I started dating my boyfriend.
I did that to get to know myself, to determine who I was and what I wanted, and to try to make sure that my next relationship was more successful than all the ones that lay littered through my past.
My boyfriend and I have been dating a year today, so I’m not sure I can say I’ve been successful yet. I do know that I love him, and he loves me, and we both work at our relationship, which is more than I can say for the men I’ve been with in the past. We both see a future for us, and we’re both actively working toward it.
I was recently reminded of three quality pieces of relationship advice. These three pieces are ones that I believe not only make sense but can guide you to do the right thing not only for yourself but for the two of you.
Imagine the shoes are gone
This is something I’ve heard from a lot of older couples: when you’re upset with your partner because he left his shoes in the middle of the floor and you tripped over them again, imagine the shoes are gone.
Initially, you might feel relief. Or excitement. But then you’ll realize if the shoes aren’t there, it’s because your partner isn’t there. And that is what puts the shoes in perspective.
Of course, we’re not talking about literal shoes here, unless your partner actually does leave his shoes in the middle of the floor. It might be the dishes he leaves around the house after he eats. Or his promises to call you at lunch that aren’t kept.
Whatever the small issue is, the idea is that if you imagine that issue is gone, you’ll realize it’s not so bad. Knowing that getting rid of the issue might mean your partner is no longer there, whether through breakup or death, snaps you back into the reality that it’s really not a big deal.
We all have pet peeves about our partners that drive us nuts. I know I do about my boyfriend, and I’m sure he does about me. But when I picture my life without him, it’s a much emptier and less fulfilling life.
You and your partner vs. the problem
Relationship problems are unlike any other problem. Somehow with other problems, most of us can think rationally. We can apply logic and consciously try to set emotion aside to resolve other problems. But relationship problems seem to trigger something that makes it a lot more difficult for us to keep emotion out of it and use logic.
Sometimes one of us can’t keep emotion out of it, and the other can. That creates a problem in and of itself.
But this lesson, the one that was hardest for me to learn in my relationships, might be the most important. When the two of you see things differently, it’s easy to start to view your partner as the enemy. They are the problem.
But they’re not.
There’s a reason why the word “partner” is used so much in romantic relationships. The two of you are partners. You ultimately want the same thing: to be together and to be happy. Even if the problem you’re facing is the direct result of your or your partner’s actions, you still have the same goal, and that means you’re not enemies pitted against each other.
You’re teammates trying to solve the problem. When emotions run high, or you disagree, take a breather. Take a step back, and remind yourself that you should be working together to solve the problem.
There is no “right” kind of relationship
There are monogamy and polyamory, commitment without marriage and marriage, living together and not living together. Those are just a few relationship options.
There is no “right” kind of relationship except the one that is right for you (and of course, abusive relationships are not right for anyone). Whatever that is, you should own it and be honest about it. Not connecting with someone who prefers polyamory when you prefer monogamy doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you — it just means that you want different things.
You might even find that the “right” for you relationship changes based on who you’re interested in. A monogamous person might be interested in polyamory if they feel strongly enough for someone, and vice versa. Or that you always thought you wanted to get married, but the person you’re in love with doesn’t want marriage, and you’re okay with that now.
Changing your mind is okay. It’s okay to experiment (just make sure everyone’s on the same page if you’re in a relationship and you want to start experimenting!). Be honest about who you are and what you want. As long as you do that, you’ll end up with the right relationship for you, because you’ll choose it.
Listen to your intuition
In the end, the best relationship advice I know is this: listen to your intuition.
That little voice that whispers in the back of your mind (sometimes it screams if you’re treading on very dangerous ground) will never steer you wrong.
It told me when I was in an abusive relationship with a man that would eventually do a lot of mental and emotional damage to me — because I didn’t listen to my intuition.
It told me that my marriage wasn’t going to work out because my ex-husband and I didn’t really love each other. It also told me that he wasn’t the kind of guy who should ever get married. But I didn’t listen, then, either. I was pregnant and giving my unborn child a family seemed like the right thing to do. The voice told me that wasn’t true, but … well, you know. A little duct tape slapped over its mouth and you can’t hear it anymore. Although I don’t recommend that.
These days, my intuition tells me that no one in this world can make me feel safer than the man I love. It tells me that he’s the one for me, and no matter what troubles we encounter, I shouldn’t give up. Even when it’s telling me good things, it’s hard for me to listen sometimes, but I’m working on that. I know that it’s right.
What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever heard or given?