They say that youth is wasted on the young.
We never understood that saying until we washed up on the shores of our thirties. As we explored the island of early middle age, we started to realize that we knew a thing or two—we had learned to be emotional spear-fishers. We figured out how to gather the coconuts of romance. We became spinners of extended metaphors that should have ended long, long ago.
The point is, we learned how to be a solid half of a good relationship by making every mistake in the book. Our younger selves needed to know these things, but there was no one around to tell them. Youth really is wasted on the young.
That’s why we spent, like, a whole afternoon scouring the internet for relationship advice that guys wish they could have told their younger selves. Read this when you’re young. It might spare you an ocean of heartache.
1. A Buzzfeed employee who shall remain nameless has this advice to share:
“Don’t do the long distance college thing.”
This poor guy spent the first three years of his college experience in a struggling long-distance relationship. Despite being in love with his girlfriend, he now realizes that it was never going to work. By clinging to someone in a different time zone, he ended up depriving himself of lots of formative experiences.
“At the time, I was in love, but looking back on it, I realize how many different experience I missed out on,” he told Buzzfeed. “Everyone tells you that, but you always believe your relationship is different. Plus, it’s just not fun to be in a relationship with someone when you never see them.”
2. A 34-year-old guy named Jesse shared this wise tip with Thought Catalog.
“Think about what you want long-term,” he said. “That will help you from listening to the more shallow side of your brain in the moment.”
It sounds like Jesse made some bad decisions when he was younger. That’s incredibly easy to do. When your hormones are swirling and an opportunity for a little hanky-panky shows up, it’s nearly impossible to say no. But that split-second decision can lead to a lot of problems down the line. Stay focused on your relationship goals, and only get involved with people who can help you get closer to them.
3. Another man who works for Buzzfeed thinks we should work on ourselves first.
“Don’t spend your life looking for the ‘right’ person,” he told Buzzfeed. “Make yourself the right person for you.”
This Buzzfeed employee admits that he stole the advice straight from Oprah. If you’re going to steal relationship tips, you can’t really find a better source. His point is something that flies in the face of the romantic fictions that our society stuffs into our brains. There’s that concept of “the one,” or “a soulmate,” or whatever. It’s totally bogus.
“Don’t spend your life searching for the perfect person (if such a thing even exists),” the latest guy said. “Work to make yourself the perfect person for you, and then the right person will be drawn to you based upon the work that you put out.”
4. Writer Casey Imafidon shared his relationship advice with Lifehack.
“Be willing to be the giver in every relationship,” he wrote in a piece titled “7 Things About Relationships I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self.”
When he was young, Imafidon must have entered into relationships that made him happy, without worrying too much about his partner’s happiness. Eventually, he learned that this is the wrong perspective.
“Giving is very important to the success of any relationship,” he wrote. “Learn to appreciate the other person. When you give to them there is something joyful about it…Jump on opportunities to make them smile, laugh, and feel fulfilled.”
That’s good advice at any age.
5. Ian, 32, shared a useful tip about siblings with Thought Catalog:
“Never underestimate how helpful your sisters can be with advice, if you’re lucky enough to have sisters,” he said.
Sisters can help young men understand the female perspective. At the same time, they’ve always got your back. If you have a sister and you aren’t asking her for relationship advice, you’re not using your most valuable resource. Thanks for the reminder, Ian.
6. At age 59, Reverend Peter Wallace told the Huffington Post what he wished he could say to his younger self:
“When you do connect deeply with one person, be serious about it,” he suggests. “Work at it. Be open and honest with your significant other. It is a rare and wondrous thing to be in a relationship, so make every effort to preserve and improve and deepen it.”
7. Wallace is right, but you’ll have to date some people who are wrong for you before you find someone who can be a true partner.
Wallace addresses this fact.
“But sometimes, for any number of reasons, it is time to move on, for your sake or theirs, or both,” he told the Huffington Post. “Recognize this.”
8. Another Buzzfeed employee tells us something that seems obvious, until you find yourself in a tough situation:
“As a rule, don’t get involved with anybody who is married,” he said. “You’re going to tell yourself that yours is a unique position. That this is different than other affairs. It isn’t.”
There must be some story behind this bit of advice. We’d like to hear it, even though it’s bound to have a tragic ending.
9. A 27-year-old named Cory told Thought Catalog that it sometimes takes a few dates to really connect.
“Even if a date doesn’t absolutely blow you away, give it another shot or two if she seems cool and interesting,” he said. “You never know what you might learn about her. Sometimes a sense of humor or a really cool personality trait doesn’t come out until a few dates in.”
Remember that your date might be just as nervous as they are. You might want to give them a few chances to loosen up and show their true colors. They could be just the person you’re looking for.
You might want to give them a few chances to loosen up and show their true colors. They could be just the person you’re looking for.
10. Imafidon cuts to the core of the romance problem with this tip:
“You can’t be deserving of love if you do not love yourself,” he wrote on Lifehack. “Before you can faithfully express love to anyone you have to experience it with yourself. Many people do not understand the importance of this, but growing up I found out that I have to [be] gentle on myself and make time for activities that make me feel alive. If you can show yourself unconditional love and compassion, it will be easier to navigate through the tides of any relationship.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
11. We’ll leave you with a more general bit of advice from Reverend Wallace.
“Some people will give you good advice,” he wrote in his Huffington Post piece. “Listen to them. Others don’t know what they’re talking about; learn to distinguish between the two. You will know in your gut when others’ advice is sound. (And I hope mine is.)”
That holds for everyone on this list. Ultimately, you have to forge your own path in life. We just hope these signposts from guys who have been there and done that can help you on your way.