I have some great dating advice, sparked by a conversation I had today with a friend. My friend has been divorced for a couple years and was in a relationship recently that lasted for several months.
Every time I would ask her how it was going, she would say something like, "Good, but..." and then she would talk about some issue she had with him. He was late a lot, he didn't want to meet her friends, he was distant one night. So basically, every time I asked her about him, the answer was always that they were still together, BUT...
So they broke up and now she has been dating someone new for a few weeks. When I saw her today, I asked, "How is the new guy?"
"He's great," she said, gushing with happiness. And, she stopped right there. She didn't say, "but..."
Her response got me thinking about the difference between healthy romantic relationships and those that most likely won't work out: the word "But!"
I truly believe that when a relationship is good (healthy) there are no buts. I'm not saying that healthy relationships are perfect. They aren't. But rather that when someone is truly making you happy, you are only sharing good news about that person and your relationship.
My dating advice is, when in a relationship, LISTEN to yourself when you are talking to your friends about the person. Listen to the words that come out of your mouth. That says everything about whether or not the relationship is making you happy.
It's easier to stay in a relationship sometimes, even if you know it isn't right (and you say "but" a lot). Reasons for staying include the fact that you care deeply about the person, you don't want to get back out there in the dating world, you are comfortable in the relationship, you don't think you can do any better, or you are convinced there aren't any better men (or women) out there. So, you try to fit a square peg in a round hole, and you keep dating him or her, and you end up frustrated and unhappy because the same "buts" keep coming up over and over again.
You say things to your friends like, "He's really good, but we fight a lot," or "He's good but he kind of drinks a lot" or "I love him but he never wants to go out with me on weekends" or "Things are pretty good but I don't know if I see a future."
Notice that there is a but in every one of these statements.
On the flip side, if a friend asks you, "How is your new guy?" and you answer in one of these ways, keep him:
"How is your new guy?"
1. the best
2. a total sweetheart
3. Great, he surprised me yesterday and showed up at my house with lunch.
4. We are having so much fun!
5. I just love him.
6. Kind and caring and giving.
7. I'm just really happy.
8. I've been waiting for him all my life.
I believe that relationships develop what I call "a theme" very early on. In other words, the stage is set almost from the start, and whatever the issues are, they will be there for the entire relationship.
That isn't a bad thing and that doesn't mean you are with the wrong person. What I am saying is, in most cases, your theme will not change, and so if you want it to, you should break up with the person.
If you are a bickering couple, that will start in month two and you will probably always bicker. Whatever bugs you about each other will continue to bug you for the entirety of the relationship. And it takes guts to ask yourself if the issues are too big, or if the good things outweigh the bad things so much, that you are willing to stay.
In any case, I truly believe your gut will speak to you and tell you if the buts are too big for the relationship to truly fulfill you.
I remember sitting on a plane next to some random guy one time and he said to me, "When a relationship is right, it will be easy." I never forgot that. What does "easy" mean? No buts!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.