When we first enter a new relationship, it can be all too easy to limit ourselves to what we think it’s “the right time” for. Is it too early to miss someone? Is it too early to want to be exclusive? Is it too early to put your foot down about the things you won’t settle for?
Well, in short… No. But the long answer is that many of these things are a personal choice – and you can’t expect someone to meet your standards until after you’ve discussed your standards with them.
It’s absolutely essential that you lay the framework for your relationship early on, so that neither of you wastes your time longing for things the other person isn’t willing to give you. It’s also important to remember that not everyone agrees about what’s required in a relationship – don’t take for granted that your partner shares your priorities until after you’ve discussed these things.
Even the most secure person can benefit from a well-delivered compliment. It boosts our self-esteem, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, and it really doesn’t take that long to do. Not everyone is able to deliver sincere, meaningful compliments on a daily basis, but your partner should be trying. If they’re completely unable to provide you with any positive reinforcement of the things you’re doing “right”, so to speak, you might need to speak up about it. Just remember to be fair about your expectations – compliments don’t come naturally to everyone.
Everyone who has flaws, and those who don’t think they do have one of the biggest flaws of all. But in your relationships, you shouldn’t have to ask your partner to be supportive. She should naturally want to see you in the way that makes you happiest. Encourage your partner to be herself – the version of herself that brings her the most happiness – and don’t be afraid to say something if she’s not doing the same for you. Everyone deserves to have her partner actually be a partner.
Some of us have it mentally ingrained that we’re either “the big spoon” or “the little spoon”. These ideas are great and all, but sometimes it’s good to switch it up. If your partner usually holds you, try flipping the switch and wrap your arms around her every now and then! If instead, you’re used to being the big spoon already, don’t be afraid to ask her to hold you if you want to give it a shot. Trust me, it doesn’t mess up your relationship dynamics, if you’re worried about that. It just makes the two of you more equal.
There’s no rule that says that relationships are always monogamous. There’s no rule that says a fling is never exclusive. The two of you should feel free to express what you really want out of the relationship, without worrying about whether it’ll mess things up. If you’re not comfortable sharing, say so. If you’re not comfortable being monogamous, say so. Never assume that the things you want are the same as the things she wants.
No matter how you feel personally about displaying your emotions, you shouldn’t hide your emotions from your partner. (I’m inclined to leave it all on the page, instead of on my face. I’m working on that.) She deserves to see you in a state of vulnerability, and she deserves to share in your happiness. Whatever the emotions are, hiding them away from your partner isn’t the right way to handle things. If she can’t accept the emotions you have, she’s not the girl for you.
6. Effort with Appearance
Okay, so I’m going to throw the disclaimer in here first: One partner should absolutely never ask the other partner to change their physical appearance or their style. Chances are, that style is one of the things that attracted you two together in the first place. But if you’re going to a fancy restaurant, most likely you won’t be wearing the same type of outfit that you’d wear to the movie theater – and you have the right to expect your partner to meet the dress code standards of your destinations. If she’s not comfortable dressing “up to code” with the place you’re planning to go, don’t go to that place – it’s that simple.
7. Effort with Hygiene
You and your partner should be taking good care of yourself at least most of the time. Your clothes should be clean (or at least not smell – but preferably clean). Your face should be washed, your hair should be washed as appropriate for your hair type (I need to wash my hair every other day, but women with short or curly hair can probably get away with going longer). And your teeth should be brushed every day – gingivitis is not sexy.
8. Alone Time
I know how hard it is to remember your alone time when you first start a relationship. I’ve had first dates that lasted days, and I’ve had relationships that “got serious” right from the start. But it is so important to maintain your own space, especially in the beginning of a relationship. The more time you spend with a single person, the more influence they’re going to have over your life. This means the good and the bad. It’s necessary to give yourself specific time to be yourself – not just someone’s girlfriend.
9. Couple Time
As important as your alone time is, your “couple time” is equally important. This helps to create the bond that will help keep you together through problems. The specific schedule for how much time you should spend together will be unique to your own situation, but it’s important that both of you are getting your needs met. If your partner doesn’t seem to have time for you, you don’t have a partner – you have an acquaintance with strings attached. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want to see your partner more than you actually do see each other.