Navigating the waters of a new relationship can be tricky. When are we considered “dating”? What is our relationship status? Is it too early to post our first picture together? How do I know if they want more from me than just a physical relationship?
These are all valid questions we ask ourselves when we begin dating someone new. In this digital age, it’s difficult to know exactly when the time is right to make a relationship Insta-official or introduce your new beau to your friends, and half the time we don’t even know what to call them. My special friend? My girlfriend/boyfriend? My friend with benefits?
To help clear up the uncertainties that accompany new relationships, I’ve put together a list of 10 rules everyone should follow when embarking on a new relationship.
1. Set expectations
First, it’s very important that you both know exactly what you want from each other. Do you want to just casually date or do you want to be romantically involved? Do you both have the same goals for the relationship or do you want different things?
Before things get too confusing and too complicated by labels and non-labels, have an honest discussion with your new beau to figure out how you plan to proceed. Don’t spring the question “so are we together?” on them immediately after your first date; you might scare them away. But, if you’re both feeling each other after going out a few times and you’re not sure where you stand, let them know you’d like to talk about your status and figure out where to go from here. If they’re a keeper, they’ll want to have this conversation.
2. Take it slow
Don’t rush into intimacy, and don’t rush into making your relationship public. Take it slow and feel your new partner out to get a better idea of their comfort level with the new relationship. If you think it would be helpful, ask them when they think it would be a good time to announce the relationship to friends, family, and social media.
Intimacy changes new relationships—either in a good way or a bad way. The key is to wait until you’re both comfortable enough to talk to each other about sex before engaging in it. This comfort level will grow as you get to know each other better, which takes time!
3. Make compromises
You are never going to agree 100% with someone you’re dating. And if you try to find that person who agrees with you 100% on everything, then you’re going to be searching for a very long and frustrating time.
New relationships require some “agreeing to disagree” in order to get started on the right foot. It’s really easy to give up on someone because you disagree on an important issue like religion or politics—especially in this day and age—but you could also be missing out on a very long and happy relationship if you allow individual differences to become deal breakers. Don’t make up your mind about someone right away based purely on opposing views. After some time has passed, you might come around to see their way of thinking or vice versa, which can seriously strengthen your bond.
Besides, you don’t want to date someone who is exactly like you because we all need partners who challenge us and teach us their beliefs and ideals in order to help us grow as individuals. Remember: we don’t have to always agree with our partners in order to respect and care for them.
4. Focus on their strengths—not their weaknesses
You’re not going to like every single thing about your partner, so don’t dwell on the areas you’re not crazy about and instead focus your energy on the aspects that appealed to you in the first place. Don’t search for faults in their character and pick them apart, but rather consciously take note of their strengths and tell them what you admire about them.
5. Don’t lose touch with your friends
It’s easy to get wrapped up and focus all your time and energy on new relationships, which means your friendships might suffer. It’s not cool to blow off your friends because you’re dating someone new, but at the same time, you can ask them to bear with you while you navigate these new waters. Your friends will understand as long as you’re open with them, and they’ll be great sources of motivation during those first few awkward and uncertain months.
Remember, if your relationship doesn’t end up working out and you neglected your friends the entire time, you might not have any friends to go back to!
6. Maintain respect during an argument
Once you or your partner says something during a fight that can’t be unsaid, the relationship changes forever. This moment is likely going to come at some point in your relationship, but don’t let it happen right away. It’s very important that you and your new partner disagree respectfully and don’t say hurtful things to each other during an argument—especially at the beginning of the relationship.
The time will come when the spark begins to fade and you both become more relaxed. If you’ve practiced respectful argumentation up to this point, then things never have to become ugly, and the magic of your relationship never has to fade away. In fact, the arguments you have will continue to strengthen the foundation of your relationship as long as you both argue in a way that produces the need to re-evaluate yourselves, challenge your own views, and learn how to avoid similar fights in the future.
7. Be attentive, but not clingy
There’s a fine line between being sweet and being overbearing. When we really like someone, we tend to invest a lot of time and emotion into pleasing them, which can sometimes translate into aggressive and clingy behavior.
Surprise your partner with lunch at work every once in a while, but don’t visit them at work every single day for a whole week. Send your partner flowers for no reason, but don’t plan a one-week vacation during your first month of dating. Know and understand the expectations you’ve set and the boundaries that accompany new relationships.
8. Be yourself
There is nothing worse than starting out a new relationship in which you haven’t been honest about who you are. If you’re nerdy, don’t try to act cool so that your new beau will like you. If you do, you’ll have to maintain the facade throughout your relationship, which is a horrible blow to your self-worth. If they don’t like you for who you really are, then you shouldn’t be dating them.
Likewise, encourage your new partner to be themselves around you. If you’re not crazy about who they are, then don’t try to change them—just let them know that your two personalities don’t seem to mesh very well.
9. Start fresh
Don’t bring baggage from previous relationships into your new relationships, and don’t assume everyone you date is the same. If you were treated badly in a previous relationship, it is unfair to assume your next partner will also treat you badly. If you are unable to avoid making this assumption, then you’re not ready for a relationship!
You must also be able to trust your new partner without expecting them to first prove their trustworthiness. Don’t start out assuming your new partner is a liar or a cheater. Don’t start mistrusting them until they give you a reason to do so. And if they do, address the issue immediately and take measures to prevent yourself from losing faith in the relationship. If distrustful behavior continues, then the relationship is most likely not a good fit.
10. Be open-minded
It’s important that you allow your partner to take you outside your comfort zone and vice versa. Try new things together, and let them show you new things that you might not have been crazy about trying before. Show them that you care about their interests, and expect them to care about yours.
On the other hand, you should never do anything you’re not comfortable with, and you should be able to openly express any discomfort you have without being worried about jeopardizing the relationship. If your partner cares about you and respects your worth, they’ll understand.
Do you agree with the importance of these 10 rules for all new relationships? Give us your feedback below!
Featured image source: https://www.elitedaily.com/p/when-should-you-post-your-first-instagram-together-when-youre-in-a-new-relationship-8166221
Jamie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is an aspiring writer, professional editor/proofreader, and piano player. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading classic literary works, composing music, and playing Xbox with her husband!