I just wrote a response to a reader who asked me what the trick to turning a relationship from a hookup into a consistent, exclusive relationship is. I thought my response would be a useful blog post because I actually hear this question all the time, and also watch my own girlfriends both rule at what I’m about to explain and suck at it. My advice applies to developing a new relationship as much as it does to maintaining a longstanding one.
As always, I want to be clear that I am not a relationship expert, so everything I write on this topic is solely my opinion and based on my personal experiences.
The best piece of dating advice I have, no matter what your current relationship status or situation, is to have your own life. Have your own goals, your own source of income, your own friends, your own time. I don’t care if you’ve been dating a few weeks or you’ve been married for years (although I realize the income part may not apply if you stay at home with kids!), you need to have your own thing going on — whatever that thing may be.
But I love my boyfriend and we love each other so much and we have so much in common that we want to be together 24/7!
Congratulations! That probably means you guys are very compatible. But I’d be willing to bet you haven’t been dating for all that long.
Here’s the thing:
Guys like girls who don’t desperately need them. Or don’t even need them at all, even. Why? For the same reason you want to date a guy like that!
Imagine you’re you: all independent, single, killing it at work, and having the time of your life on the weekends. Then you meet a guy and he’s super cute and nice and you guys are really clicking. As you get to know him better, he starts to talk about how he envisions life with you and his fantasy entails trading in his job for a work-from-home gig (why would you want to separate for 8 hours a day?), dropping everything he does with his guy friends (who needs golf and Monday night football when you have a GF?!), joining you at your girl’s nights (if you even still go to those!), and then cuddling up on the couch every night to watch a movie or just stare lovingly at you from the kitchen while he cooks you dinner (maybe the dinner part isn’t so bad). WTF? Where’s the depth? You’d be bored faster than it took him to weird you out about his clingy, dependent life plan!
Of course, my example is kind of extreme, but hopefully it gives you a good idea of how you don’t wanna be. Guys are looking for a partner… not a cling-on! They want to be with someone who adds to their life and who they find interesting; someone who they can learn from and see as an equal (and if they don’t, you might wanna be on the hunt for a different guy). When you and BF spend 24/7 together or you don’t have your own interests and friends, there’s not gonna be a whole lot to talk about or find interest in.
Plus, you introduce the idea that you’re always going to be around no matter what — so there’s no need for either of you to go the extra mile to make each other feel special (neither of you are going anywhere!).
But being independent isn’t all about keeping your guy’s interest, by any means! The most important reason to maintain some “you-time,” is YOU! As tempting as it can be to blow off ladies nights for some QT on the couch with your man, don’t do it (at least not often)! Literally every time I’ve thought about skipping out on my girlfriends but don’t, I’ve been SO happy I went. We need our girlfriends. For their humor, advice, experiences, and just plain femininity. It is always good to have multiple, close influences in your life. That’s part of being a balanced person.
The other reason to always have your own thing going on, is purely for peace of mind. Your life should never be dependent on your relationship (at least not until you’re married). By maintaining your own means of earning money, friendships and interests, you maintain the ability to walk away should you ever want (or need) to. In the early fantasyland stages of a relationship, you may be convinced you’ll never ever find yourself in that position — but do yourself a favor and just keep the option open. You never know, and you’re not hurting anyone by being the you you always have been (that’s who your boyfriend fell for in the first place!). There is nothing worse than feeling trapped when you want out (although I guarantee if you make this mistake once, you won’t again — speaking from experience)!
Beyond any of the reasons above, I find having my own life is just plain fulfilling. I feel accomplished each time I achieve something of my own and then get to share that with Brody (and no one is a bigger cheerleader for me than he is — ok, well maybe my mom!). When I spend a weekend away with my girlfriends and come home to my boyfriend and the house and pets we share, I feel whole — but this wouldn’t be possible for me without each component of my life.
Anyway, I don’t want this to get too blaa blaa-y. These are my thoughts and I find that applying them generally in dating situations has always served me well.
What do you guys think? If you could give one piece of advice from your dating experiences, what would it be? I’d love to put together a post of all your best tips!!