Dear Future Self: An Advice Column

There’s a clarity that I find after recovering from a relationship that didn’t work. Over the years I’ve spent a good deal of time in the clear space, reflecting on things that didn’t work, and why. When I’m in a relationship that isn’t working, I’m really good at not reflecting, pretending things are going okay, or hoping they will get better. So I thought, “hey! I should write these things down for the next time I’m an emotional wreck!” Then I thought maybe someone out there is currently an emotional wreck and could learn from mistakes I’ve made or stupid things I’ve watched other women do. So what follows is my advice to you, and to my future self, on relationships.

On dating:

  • The Notebook is not real life.
  • “UGH. I JUST WANT A BOYFRIEND.” No, you are wrong. You could have that, but he would probably be shitty because you met in a Walmart parking lot and made out in your car. You want THE BOYFRIEND. The one who makes you giggle and not feel shitty. Hold off a little while for him to come along, it’ll be worth it.
  • Don’t trick yourself into believing that you’ve met “the one” because you think it’s the right time in your life to meet “the one.”
  • If you have expectations of which he is not aware you must either let him know or drop him. He can’t live up to them, just like you couldn’t live up to unknown expectations placed on you.
  • The same goes for expectations of your relationship. Think you’re going to be engaged in the next six months? You may want to let him know that.
  • There’s a good chance that you’re the more perceptive one. So when you want something – more time, attention, space, sex – there’s a really good chance that you need to spell it out.

On sex:

  • Do not have a casual sexual relationship with a person whom you do not feel casually about.
  • You very likely have more insecurities than he does. He likes you, and he wants you naked. Own it. You look great naked, leave the lights on.
  • You can put your sex in a pretty package with a bow on it, chances are he’s not going to see it as a gift no matter how much thought you’ve put into it. Unless he’s a virgin.

On breaking up:

  • There are some fundamental differences that cannot be overcome, no matter how much chemistry or attraction you have. Dating the married, republican, religious guy is not going to end well for the liberal, agnostic, single woman.
  • Recognize when the timing just isn’t right. The Beatles were wrong – love is not all you need. If X=Bachelor and Y=Wants Babies, X+Y ≠ Success
  • For the most part, if you feel bad most days when you wake up next to that person, he’s probably not right for you.

On getting back together:

  • Selfies, sexts and sex with the ex are strictly off limits. You will regret it.
  • If you’ve broken up more than once you probably shouldn’t get back together.
  • There are reasons you’re not together. Think about them before contacting him.

In the end, whether you’re single or not, it’s all about having more good days than bad days.

Until I finished this post I had completely forgotten that I wrote an advice column in my high school newspaper. I don’t think Mr. Beckermann would’ve let this one fly.

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