I'm not a relationship expert. I'm not a psychologist, counselor, or anything of the like. What I am is a listener. I've listened to the people I respect and have exemplified successful relationships throughout my life and have taken their advice to heart. I am exceedingly fortunate to have had a glorious number of gems sent my way and thus I pass them to you.
1. Me, We, Them
When I was a sophomore in college, my uncle gave me the ultimate life advice - hence, it is number 1 on the list. I was talking his head off about school, jobs, and boys. Oh, boys. Relationships were complicated in college. Guys didn't get that girls just want stability and someone to hang out with. No one likes going to movies alone or having to find someone to hang out with on Saturday nights. Seriously. I went on and on about the guys in my life and how none of them seemed to get it. As I finished my long-winded rant, he said to me:
Don't be in such a hurry. Enjoy the "me" time right now. Because when you find that special guy, it's all about "we". Then you'll fall in love, get married and before you know it, you will have kids and then... it's all about "them". You won't ever get this "me" time back.
My nineteen year old self was stopped in my tracks. He was absolutely, positively right. I wasn't spending enough time enjoying just being me. I never believed in "finding" myself, but it did make sense to enjoy who I was at that moment. I was nineteen. I was able to shape my life and my environment into whatever I wanted it to be. I could see whatever movie I wanted when I wanted, read books for hours on end, watch crappy television without having to compromise, spend time with whichever friends I wanted without having someone in tow, eat cereal for dinner without having to worry about another mouth to feed. I started going to movies solo and spending my Sunday in coffee shops reading. I lived in a one bedroom apartment with my cat and took yoga without a friend. I spent time getting to know, love and enjoy me.
And... again, he was right. I found the right guy (just so happened to be one of the guys I was originally complaining about to my uncle). We fell in love. We got married. Now, every night, we have to compromise on dinner. If we make plans, we don't ask for permission but we do have to "check in". We build our calendars and our lives around each other. Don't get me wrong - I love my husband and marriage dearly. I also very much so love this stage in my life, but I don't think I would had I not taken the time to enjoy who I was as a person when I was truly independent - just me. Learn to love yourself in your current situation.
2. Don't Rush Things
When you do find your special guy (or girl, for that matter), take it easy. Take the time to soak in and enjoy the little steps and stages along the way. We all want to know we are loved and that where we are spending our time and energy is "worth it", but if you rush, you'll miss all the good parts. You'll miss the butterflies waiting for their phone call and the rush you feel when they reach for your hand. The magic of a new relationship is special and short lived - savor it. If you are lucky, the new relationship will transform into a stable relationship with new anticipations and thrills, but don't skip the beginning.
3. Never Leave Angry
Everyone fixates on never going to bed angry, however, I think leaving angry is often overlooked. I don't care how angry you are - never leave while you're angry. Don't walk out the door to "take a drive" or "a walk". Don't run to your friend or parent's house. Don't leave angry. The minute you walk out that door, you are leaving your significant other with a feeling of abandonment. You will break the trust that they are safe with you and you will stick it out with them.
Don't do it. Period.