15 Important Relationship Rules I No Longer Ignore

Illustration by Agnes Cecile
“Friendships and relationships last when you are able to define and apply the rules”

It’s been a while. I definitely ghosted after my last post. I think it was predictable because I just had a lot of unfinished work.

I’ve decided to talk about relationships and rules because I recently started considering getting into one again. I did a double check on some of my past mistakes and the lessons I had taken from them. Bye to the days of over-pleasing and anxiety overdrive induced by dating.

We honestly can’t go through life without people. Friendships are important, romantic relationships are important too. Healthy relationships have laid-down rules that are not taken for granted.

While every couple is different, and every person’s boundaries will be different, there are some ground rules all couples need to establish.

  1. Be Honest
     Be nice, but be honest. Trust is vital. Trust is gained through honesty.
  2. Compromise
     There’s a complexity to compromising. With gender roles ever evolving it’s important to recognize it’s not about who wears the pants. It’s about balance. Compromise is an inherent part of a relationship. You will have to sacrifice in a relationship. That’s the nature of relationships. If you want your way all of the time, stay solo. It’s about finding a healthy balance in compromise. Both people in a relationship must understand that necessity of compromise and sacrifice in a relationship to make it work.
  3. It’s healthy to argue
     It’s healthy to bicker. It’s not healthy to have screaming matches. Some couples brag about “never fighting.” That’s nothing to brag about. It probably means that one of you is holding something in.
  4. It’s not your job to fix the person you love.
     You can’t fix them. You can only help them fix themselves. You can’t resolve their work issues or wipe away all of their insecurities or get their parents back together. All you can do is be there for them and help them through it. Getting frustrated about your inability to fix your partner will agitate their struggles and strain your relationship.
  5. Understand your significant other’s background.
     It is important to recognize the person you’re with has not always been that person. They’ve gone through things to make them that person. Appreciate and understand their past. Put them in context. Maybe he doesn’t express his feelings because his family is not particularly expressive, or maybe she is so insecure because her ex was very critical. Be conscious of this.
  6. Be wary when discussing relationship troubles with your friends.
     To a certain extent, it is healthy to discuss your relationship with your friends, but be cautious. If you discuss every little worry, every argument, if you air every grievance, you will poison your friends against your significant other. Find a healthy way/source to vent to that won’t backfire.
  7. Trust your instincts.
     If you feel in your gut something is wrong, bring it up. 9 times out of 10 your instincts are correct and ignoring them will get you nowhere.
  8. Don’t be afraid to have the tough conversations.
     If the relationship is strong and going somewhere, you should bring up the tough stuff. If you’re falling in love but have some concerns, bring them up sooner rather than later. It’s difficult to have serious conversations but it’s better to discover deal breakers earlier on.
  9. Accept that no one is perfect.
     It’s about finding the right person, not the perfect person. The perfect person doesn’t exist. Everyone has flaws. Everyone makes mistakes. Prince Charming probably had one beer too many on occasion. Cinderella probably spent too much on shoes.
  10. Split the bills.
     Relationships should be even or close to even. It is not a romantic idea, but it is fair. Communicate about what you each feel comfortable with. No one person should put more effort into a relationship than the other, so no one person should put more money into a relationship. It will allow resentment and discomfort to build.
  11. Spite will get you nowhere.
     If the other person hurts you in a relationship, hurting them back on purpose will likely destroy your relationship. If you feel the need to “get back at” the person you’re with, you shouldn’t be with them.
  12. Don’t stop doing the things you used to do.
     Do not stop doing things you used to do in the beginning of the relationship. If you used to take your guy/girl to the airport, still take them. You should never stop trying to show your significant other that you care. Nothing is worse than hearing “How come you never ____________ anymore?”
  13. If you are not getting something you need, ask for it.
     Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Your partner is not a mind reader.
  14. Value each other’s interests.
     If you have different interests, which is perfectly fine, make sure you value what their interests are. Even if vintage airplanes or nail art don’t interest you, do your best to pay attention and have respect for what your partner likes.
  15. Do not limit expressions of love to grand gestures.
     It’s impossible to keep up. Fancy dinners or luxury vacations are wonderful, but love does not have a currency value. If given the option between a weekly sunset walk or an annual vacation, the majority would pick the weekly walk. Money does not show love. Gestures show love. A free gesture also holds value.

Listen. Pay attention. There is nothing more meaningful or memorable than mentioning something in passing and then having your partner bring it back up later.

Of course, it’s all easier said than done. However, seeking out a better life is making an attempt to create one. Be ready to abide to these rules before carrying them to a relationship.

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