The last few months I have felt like a relationship ‘Go Ask Alice.’ People ask for my advice on relationships, friendships, life and love. I’m not anything special and I certainly make mistakes. I’m just a young lady who has been through years of relationships and years of single. I’ve done life with and loved men and women I’ve had the opportunity to call friends and family, and had the unique opportunity to watch almost 27 years of my parents 39 year marriage(39 years as of today, congrats Ed and Sharron VanderVelden, you have inspired my bi-monthly introspection report.)
I have been frequently inspired by my friends and families lives, have felt their heartbreak and they have been there for mine, this one is for the awesome people out there who live lives which have been quietly inspiring my life coaching, singles (and occasionally coupled) relationship advice.
1) Always remember you are in a relationship with yourself first. You are the only person guaranteed to live life with beginning to end. Work on that person. Good relationships come from two people, both giving 100%, jumping in with both feet and never looking back. Love is an adventure worth having but it isn’t for cowards. Everything you are made of will be tested, torn apart and reassembled in a different order. Love makes you better but only if you are willing to change yourself for the better (and unfortunatly, uncomfortable) first.
2) Attraction and compatibility are two different things, you need both to make a good relationship. Learn the difference, never confuse the two, don’t settle for one without the other and don’t forget, both have to be maintained.
3) Don’t look for hidden meaning in everything other people do. What they do (and do not do) mean nothing until they communicate they mean something. If a person says one thing and their actions don’t match and what they are doing is hurtful, disrespectful or harmful, run. Run and do not look back, it only goes down hill from there.
4) Do not invest more in a relationship than is offered. Keep your emotions in check and logic on the table until there is proof positive they are a worthwhile investment. Hold on to your heart and use your head.
5) In every situation from the beginning, duration or end of a relationship, the person you are dealing with is of value and so are you. Do not treat them as less or allow yourself to be treated as less. Bad mouthing, blaming, name calling and general disrespect have no place in any relationship and are not productive.
6) Number 5 in mind, there comes a time to call a spade a spade. Identify the problem, confront it directly and do your part about it. You can only change your own behaviour (and are responsible to) but you can identify and remove yourself from the destructive behaviour of others. Remember though, the persons behaviour reflects on their character, not their value. What you say about the person reflects on your character.
7) No matter what you do, some people will always behave like immature jerks. They aren’t bad people, just people who are not emotionally, mentally or socially capable of relationships at this time (or possibly any other time.) Don’t wait, make excuses or exceptions for them. If they grow up and they are meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up. If they don’t catch up, be thankful and move on; you didn’t need to carry the baggage they are carrying. Singlehood will always beat the misery of dealing with someone who is ill suited for a relationship.
8) Not every person you like or likes you will be suited for a relationship with you. Learn to deal with the situation with grace and dignity. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a second; react to the situation in a way that is appropriate and would best guard your own feelings if the situation was reversed. Sometimes there is no explaination for why it won’t work, it just doesn’t. Character is learning when to step up and when to step back and move on.
9) Good relationships take time, effort, dedication and patience. If you aren’t willing to put that kind of investment into another person and put their needs first, you should not be in a relationship.
10) When you are putting someone else’s needs first do not lose yourself in the process; do not let them lose themselves either. You both need time to grow together and you need time to grow individually. Smothering each other is not healthy or productive. Nurture each other’s development of individual strengths and work together at mutually productive ones. You both will learn more and be healthier people.
11) If the right relationship does not come around, do not settle for one less than ideal. In a good relationship you will not have to question each others motives, feelings or thoughts; they will be clearly communicated. Anything less is not a relationship. There is a time and a place for questions and a time for communication. If you want a relationship, both parties have to step up to the plate and communicate. One of you has to take the first step and it is intimidating but it has to be done or there will never be a relationship.
12) As long as life grants you the gift of being single, use it. Do not sulk in a corner waiting for life to change, no one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is only half there. Show up to life with 100%, learn to value yourself, and your long term relationship with fun and freedom. Your life should be as full and complete with a relationship as it is without one.
13) It takes courage to live genuinely and authentically. Learn to say what you mean and mean what you say; but do it with tact and kindness. It does not matter if you are right, if you are a jerk. No one will listen to a thing you have to say if you are a jerk.
14) Learn to be open and honest. Accept constructive criticizm and let pointless cynicism roll off your back. Holding a grudge and refusing to engage only poisons your own heart and hurts the people that matter most to you.
15) People make mistakes, sometimes you have to suck up your pride, hurt feelings and the fact they aren’t sorry, you are both right (and both wrong) say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” and get over yourself.
16) Not every relationship is supposed to be permanent but every relationship is designed to force you to grow in ways you never thought possible. Relationships provide the fuel for change, you decide what you will do with it. You can be better or bitter in any situation; no matter how good or how bad the situation, you are the determining factor. Take responsibility for it and step up.
17) Wherever life takes you single or in a relationship, be unapologetically yourself and allow the people around you to do the same. “The people that mind, don’t matter and the one’s who matter, don’t mind” Always be a person that matters. Life will force you to give your best when there isn’t anything left in the tank, remember we are all in the same boat. Kindness, compassion and understanding go a long way to changing the world without ever knowing you’ve done it.
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