It’s been pointed out more than once that for a person who is full of SO MUCH ADVICE for how to have a good relationship, I sure am single. It has also been noted that I direct most of my writing at the ladiez. Both of these things are true and I’m cool with them (I also ignore the judgement). But this isn’t a secret girls-only clubhouse, so I thought, why not do something specifically for the dudes in the audience? Women aren’t the only ones who need no-bullshit relationship advice.
So I enlisted one of my oldest and best friends, Nic Herbert. You may have seen her in the comments section telling a funny story (because she’s hilarious) or saying something incredibly wise (because she’s that, too). Mrs Herbert knows a lot about relationships. She and her husband have been together for seven years, living as married for six and a half and had the official piece of paper for three. “Individually and as a couple, we’ve experienced more than our fair share of Painful Life Lessons,” she says by way of a bio. “But we’ve battled, and our love has always carried us through. We genuinely live for each other’s happiness (as well as our own of course!) and that drives every decision we make, whether it’s what career path to take, where to live or what to have for dinner. We are a team and our battles make us rock solid.”
In almost four years of blogging, I’ve never once shared a guest post. I’m glad that this is the first one, because it’s truly exceptional. Ladies: send it to your boyfriends, husbands, partners, best friends, brothers and sons. Gentlemen: enjoy, and pass it on.
A successful partnership isn’t the one without problems, it’s the one that approaches them as a team and learns from them.
Men, I love you. I love your sense of humour. I love the way you punch the sad out of each other when times are tough. I love how you’ll do anything for your friends. I love that some of you really want to be in a happy relationship but maybe don’t know how to achieve that. I especially love that you’ve come here to find out.
As mind blowing as even the most successful relationship can be, it can occasionally make you want to drink a bottle of whiskey and break things, which I’m told is the male version of curling up and eating an entire cake. Well, times are tough and cake is scarce so before you continue, answer this question: Do I want to share my life with another person or do I just want regular sex?
There is nothing wrong with either answer. If you’re just after sex I have this advice for you: Be upfront about it, don’t lead a girl on by promising more or not explaining the boundaries. And as we say in the fightin’ biz – Protect yourself at all times. I don’t just mean protect your heart, I mean carry a condom at all times. It’s not presumptuous, it’s responsible.
And now: an easy to follow, no bullshit guide to getting what you want.
FIND A GIRL WHO WILL FIT INTO THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE and who wants a life that YOU will fit into. Hardly anyone meets the partner of their dreams purely by chance. You need to know what you want in a partner before you try to meet them. In dreamland you want a chef in the kitchen, a maid in the living room and an acrobat in the bedroom, but try to get a bit deeper and more realistic. Women are complex people with their own desires and commitments, so you need to know in advance:
- What do YOU want out of life?
- What, if any of these things, can be compromised on?
- What do you definitely want to avoid?
Then add to that line of thinking. How important is it that you share common interests and beliefs? Do you want to spend all of your free time with another person or do you want someone who is a bit more independent?
Once you know what you want, GO OUT AND MEET SOME GIRLS. Is internet dating an option for you or would you prefer to meet her the old-fashioned way? Ask your sister or a friend if they know anyone who might be compatible. Go to sports games and barbecues and other social gatherings, mostly because it’s fun but also because you might meet a nice girl. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. All I’m saying is you’re not likely to find love in da club after 2am, and you definitely won’t find it inside the TV.
You’ve met her, YOU WANT HER NUMBER, SO ASK FOR IT. I’m not going to make it more complex than it is. The worst that will happen is she’ll say no, but if you don’t ask it’s a no anyway, and if she’s mean about it breathe a sigh of relief that you escaped unscathed.
When you do take her out and start getting to know her, BE PICKY BUT DON’T BE JUDGMENTAL. As long as they aren’t deal-breaking, embrace the differences as well as the common ground because that’s what makes life interesting. You have a mirror if you want your reflection. Remember that just because a girl isn’t right for YOU, it doesn’t mean she’s wrong. Don’t shame her or try to change her, just move on.
BE YOURSELF and understand that being yourself doesn’t mean bulldozing your prospective partner’s sense of self to suit who you are. It means telling her who you are and what you want so you can find out if you can fit in each other’s lives. If she’s into you because of some bullshit you spouted on the first date, she’s not really into YOU. Talk about the things that genuinely interest you even if it’s a bit embarrassing. Own it! Be confidently you; just don’t mistake confidence for arrogance. Also don’t use ‘I’m just being myself’ as an excuse to behave like a dick. We are all capable of being kind, and we all have a responsibility to be so.
TAKE PRIDE IN TREATING YOUR WOMAN WELL. Being a dick to impress your friends doesn’t impress anybody. Accept your girl for who she is; after all, you chose her. Tell her why you like her occasionally. Don’t cheat or put yourself in a position where you might cheat. If a girl who isn’t your girlfriend hit on you, you say five simple words “I’m flattered, but I’m taken” and you move away or, in the spirit of community, introduce her to your single friend. If you want to pursue another woman, break up with your girlfriend first. If you can’t treat her well, cut her loose, but be a nice guy about it.
SEXUAL COMPATIBILITY IS CRUCIAL. Talking about it is crucial. If you’re not into the same kinky stuff things could get awkward, it’s much less awkward to talk about it beforehand. Plus you might both learn some stuff! And you have to give a fuck to get a fuck. If you’re thinking ‘but I just have to see her naked and I’m ready,’ that’s because boobs are magical. Balls don’t have quite the same power. If you want your girl to get you off, you have to turn her on. I won’t pretend there is a one size fits all formula for turning a woman on, we vary, even within ourselves, so be adaptable. Ask her, listen, read her body language, follow instructions, give your own instructions. Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. Don’t expect her to do anything she’s not comfortable with. Sex by definition, is give and take.
Romance means being lovely even when you’re not trying to get in her pants, AND IT DOESN’T HAVE TO COST YOU ANYTHING BUT TIME. Try to chat her up even though you’ve been going out for a few months, or even years. Pick a flower from the park on your way home. Go for a walk at the beach. Have a picnic dinner in your backyard, then if the mood is right there’s less travel time to the bed (or no travel time, as long as you don’t use an itchy blanket; care about her comfort as much as yours.) If she wants you to lavish her with expensive gifts and dates she’s probably not in it for the right reasons.
ARGUMENTS ARE OK; I’ve even heard some women say they need them occasionally to spice things up. But if it’s happening too often or in front of other people, or it’s destructive, or either of you are trying to make the other feel bad about who they are, you need to stop. Through a lot of trial and error, I have found this is a very useful way to resolve fights:
- Take ten minutes AWAY FROM EACH OTHER to remember how you met. What attracted you to each other? Remember the first time you kissed.
- Think about the problem you are arguing about and decide what YOU would like the solution to be. Think about how you might compromise on that if you already know what the other person’s ideal solution is.
- Once you’ve figured it out, go back to each other and talk. No shouting!
- If you find yourself shouting, or being shouted at, it means someone isn’t listening, so take another 10 minutes.
- Repeat as necessary.
If no solution is reached, or you find that you can’t avoid shouting at each other, it’s time to talk about the future of the relationship. If you both want to, you’ll make it work.
SHARE THE LOAD. Your significant other knows when things aren’t quite right. If you don’t tell her what it is, she assumes it’s her. If you’re stressed about your job, or you’re worried about your family don’t think ‘I don’t want to burden her with this’ because she already knows something’s up. Women are all kinds of clever, and she will want to support you through it, so take advantage of that.
DON’T HIT. Ever. This goes for men and women both.
(Here’s an interlude, because sometimes we need it – some brief break up advice: Once one person has decided a relationship is over, it really is. Whether it’s your choice or hers be grown up, be strong, move on. Reach out to your friends for support, because they want your happiness too. Don’t be spiteful or plot revenge. You have no right to mess around in someone else’s life just because it didn’t work out for you. You’ll be happier in the long run if you handle it in a way you can be proud of.)
And finally, most importantly DON’T STAND FOR ANYTHING LESS IN RETURN. If she’s worth all of that effort, so are you! You are an AWESOME person with a lot to offer. Don’t waste it on someone who refuses to show they care.
What do you think? Is there a piece of relationship advice you’d like to give to the xy set? Nic will be in the comments today, so let her know!