I choose me, from now on. I’m done being the only one who tries in a relationship. If I’m going to do that, I might as well be alone and do it. Same thing, less disappointment. But, if you’re in a relationship, I have some advice for you, from one who has been disappointed, time and time again.
Be yourself from day one. Let him/her fall in love with the real you. It’s way less work, much more exhilarating, and you won’t have to see that disappointment in those pretty eyes you love when the real you shows up. Anything else is a lie and a really crappy way to start off a relationship. It never works, it always backfires, and it is just a lousy way to be.
Think of the other person. Sounds simple, but it’s something that gets forgotten pretty early on. Change of plans? Have the decency to ask if it’s ok, even if you can’t get out of it. Let the other person know you’re thinking of them. Text in the morning, or at night. Hint that you bought that birthday present early. Get excited about events that honor your other half and follow through by actually, you know, attending. Consider what he might want to eat and cook it. Make her coffee in the morning, just the way she likes it. Go see the movie he wants to see, for once, instead of insisting on a compromise.
Be happy to see your partner every single day. Greet him with a kiss. Meet her at the door with a smile and a hug. Send her favorite burrito to her as a lunch surprise. Put some chocolates on his freshly changed pillowcase. Do the little things that express ‘I love you’ that only you two know. Keep those butterflies fluttering.
Remember that intimacy begins long before you get physical. Be kind. Be considerate. Be pleasant. Be thoughtful. Be affectionate with no expectations. Want to be with the other person, share space, and share your day. Choose him over everyone else. Touch her hair and tuck it behind her ear, as you kiss her forehead. Touch is essential to us all, but it doesn’t always have to be about sex.
Listen to hear, not to respond. Need to share? Can you wait until he finishes his thoughts? Can you put aside your own need to talk, to really listen to her? Listening simply as waiting to respond means you will be missing a great deal. And when it comes up again, you’ll have to feign forgetting, since you didn’t hear it the first time.
Put your shit away. Yes, please, put your stuff where it belongs. Hampers are for dirty clothes. Shelves, drawers, and hangers are for clean ones. When you move in, unpack. When you dirty a dish, wash it, dry it, and shelf it. When you do laundry, put it away. When you eat take out, throw out the wrappings when you’re done. Don’t have to move mountains of trash as he’s trying to get into your car. Don’t leave piles of tissues by your side of the bed. I assure you, cleaning is sexy (for the other person). Living like a slob is not.
Put that other shit away too. Your ex? Get over it! Your mom? Um, just no. Do not bring up every other person in your life who has hurt you, let you down, and disappointed you, in every single disagreement. Just no.
Know your limits. Are you a mean drunk? Don’t drink. Do you chain smoke when stressed? Maybe find a better, healthier way to relieve stress. Are you a bitch when you're hungry and tired? Maybe snack and nap more. And if you do overstep, be sorry, be responsible, and do not blame her for your failings. Do not apologize to him with “I’m so sorry, but…” Yeah, just don’t.
About apologies. They only mean something the first time. You do the wrong thing. You apologize. Here’s the tricky part: you’re not supposed to do that thing again. If you do, knowing it was wrong the first time, you aren’t sorry. The word, and your word, both lose their meaning from that point on.
Show up. In person or in spirit, if you can’t be there in person. Show up in every way you can, whenever you can, for as much and as long as you can. Be present when you’re together. Be reachable when you’re not. Be excited and proud for him, when it’s about him. Be quiet, when she needs you. Pay attention to the details, the mood changes, and to growing silence when it shows up. Be there for your love, exactly the way you want him to be there for you.
So, for me, I guess I'll schedule "good morning, beautiful" texts to myself and take myself out to the movies from now on...