I don’t know about you people, but these days it seems like everything is a big quest to secure someone to marry. If you are a college student (especially at my school), you know what it’s like to face the pressures of marriage. There are so many expectations to find, “the one”, and so many articles that serve as your lifeline to finding him. So much of our identity is falsely wrapped up in this supposedly perfect person that you are told to find at your school, and then lure him into putting a sparkling Pinterest-worthy rock on that perfectly manicured left hand of yours. I’m here to tell you to relax. There are so many articles and blog posts focusing on how to find your “soulmate”, or posts about how to make sure you are with the person you are going to marry.
We often forget about one of the most important stepping stones to marriage…dating. Oh, I’m not talking all of the cute little dates, and the flowers on Valentine’s day. I’m talking everything; the times you will stay up late having hard conversations, how to fight fairly, and eventually when you will decide whether or not you make a good team. The underlying basis of dating is friendship, and the best way to successfully date someone is through a solid friendship with them. So how about instead of freaking out over marriage, we focus on dating? It’s good to have a mindset for the big picture, but if we are too busy worrying about whether or not someone is “the one”, we miss out on the simple every day joys of just enjoying our relationship. This is a time in life where you are able to appreciate all of the joys of being in love before you have to see them every day and argue about whose turn it is to do the laundry. You should be discovering who you are as a person before you look for someone who will eventually be your other half. If we focus and fret over the future, we miss out on enjoying the present. There are so many articles on our “future spouse”, but not many on how to date. I want to talk about how to date successfully…how to date your best friend.
Now, without further ado, I give you my survival guide for how to date your best friend:
1) Be a good teammate.
You are teammates, not competitors. Celebrate in each others’ successes, don’t try to one-up each other. Allow the relationship to be 50-50, and make sure you are giving your best effort to every angle of the relationship.
2) Be open and honest
You have to be able to giving honest answers and opinions. A relationship is built on friendship and trust, which is established through honesty. Be completely and utterly yourself at all times!
3) Talk about the hard stuff
Not every aspect of a relationship is rainbows and butterflies, but you have to address it. Things get messy when you sweep them under the rug; eventually the fuse will be lit, and the argument will ensue.
4) Be loyal
If you wouldn’t say something about him to his face, don’t say it behind his back. You need to make sure you can trust each other, and you gain that trust through loyalty.
5) Set boundaries and expectations
You’d better figure out what you want your limits to look like, or it can cause a lot of avoidable controversy. Ask each other if you are okay with meeting friends of the opposite sex for coffee. If you decide to meet up with a friend, let him know ahead of time, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide it. Ps, I’m just going to say right now that you need to allow each other to keep and stay in touch with friends of the opposite gender, just make sure you go about it in a way that both of you feel comfortable with. Make sure you establish all expectations you have for each other. For example, if I want Evan to write me letters, it’s unfair for me to just assume he will write me letters, and then get angry at him if he doesn’t write. If I want a letter, it’s my job to tell him, “Hey, I would really love it if you wrote me a letter every now and then!” By establishing expectations, you are being fair, and avoiding so much unnecessary controversy.
6) Talk to him about the things he loves
One of the most beautiful things in life is watching someone’s eyes light up when they are talking about something they are genuinely passionate about. Make a point to bring up the things he loves. Is he a dog lover? Scroll through the “Aww” section of reddit (trust me, this has become a favorite activity for Evan and me). Does he love soccer? Ask him to explain the game to you. Does he have an unhealthy obsession with Breaking Bad? Watch a season with him! Make a point to incorporate each others’ favorites into the relationship.
7) Learn his love language
There are five love languages: Acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and touch. If you know his love language is touch, the next time he is having a bad day, you will know the best way to handle it is through a hug and just sitting close to him until he feels better, and you won’t make the mistake of talking his ear off when he just wants to be close to someone. If you need some assistance decoding his love language, here’s a hint: usually people love others in the way they would like to be shown love. Also, here is a link to a quiz you can have him take (if he’s patient enough to sit down and fill it out 🙂 ) http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/singles/
8) Talk about your goals
If you want to make sure you are on the same page, it’s very helpful to establish your goals. If your goal is to become a better sister, the next time you are venting about your sibling, he will be able to help you create a positive image of the situation. If his goal is to get in shape, you can text him and remind him to go work out before you spend time together. Talking about goals lays the ground work for accountability.
9) Get to know each others’ family
Your family plays a huge role in making you who you are. Plus, if your family approves of your relationship, you know it’s healthy, because they love you and have your best interest in mind. If you are familiar with each others’ families, the next time you are sharing a funny story about a sibling or a parent, he will have a better understanding of them and the context, and it will mean more to both of you.
10) Do little things.
Does he have a soft spot for a chai latte? Surprise him with some before his first class. If you’re feeling super cute, write a little note on the side (but not big enough or gushy enough that it will embarrass him). Wear his favorite color on his birthday. Find the things he likes, and find little ways to occasionally sprinkle them into your relationship.
11) Compliment him in front of the people he values
I try to embarrass someone with kindness every day, and it really amps it up a notch if it’s in front of people your significant other looks up to. It feels really good to get genuine compliments in front of the people you care about. If you’re with a group of his friends, compliment his new haircut, or congratulate him on the internship he just scored.
12) Don’t blow up his phone.
If he doesn’t respond, he’s busy, not ignoring you. Don’t be annoying about it.
Don’t just settle for munching on pizza while watching TV every every time you hang out. It’s fine to relax and unwind together, but try something new! Go rock climbing together, ice skate, make Christmas cookies, or try to cook one of the basket challenges on Chopped! There are so many fun things you can do. Picture when a group of bros hang out together. They don’t just sit and talk. They don’t just watch TV. They do things (they play frisbee, football, or video games). Guys bond through doing things, so the more you do, the more fun you will have, and the more you will enjoy each other’s company without getting bored.
14) Accept Each others’ quirks
I apologize for going all Hannah Montana on you, but Miley nailed it when she said (or shall I say, sang?) “Nobody’s Perfect”. You might have the best boyfriend ever, but cannot escape the limitations of humanity. Maybe he thinks Gossip Girl is a waste of time (sigh), or perhaps he has really little ears, but either way, you have to embrace those quirks! Quirks make a person unique, and fully them! Be able to joke (in a kind way) about the quirks, and love him for it! I subtly in my chair whenever I’m eating a meal I enjoy, and instead of criticizing me for it, Evan will say, “I’m glad you like the omelette I made you!” Love him for his quirks.
15) Give him bro time
Always allow time for him to be with his bros. It’s very important that he can spend some time with the guys. Don’t be that girl who is always trying to take him away from his friends; they (and he) will not appreciate that! Don’t be selfish; SHARE. Plus, guys need to have some talk with the guys, because they “get” him in some ways that you will not.
All photo credits go to Hannah Cooper Photography.