When it comes to dating, have you ever wished you could turn back the clock and tell yourself not to do that one thing? These women have, and their advice to their younger selves is something everyone should hear.
Everyone has their moment at some point in time—that moment when you look back on the actions of your younger self, wishing you could guide them now that you’re older and wiser. But it’s not just about how badly that one haircut framed your face or the weird silver-blue eyeshadow you often wore in middle school—well, that’s definitely part of it.
However, there’s no doubt that dating and relationship advice is something we all wish we could give to our past selves. These women recently shared on Reddit and in an interview with Thought Catalog what they’d say if they could turn back the clock.
Comparison Won’t Do You Any Favors
“Absolutely do not compare your relationship to anyone else’s ever. Everybody’s love life is supposed to be different, that’s the nature of the beast.”—Janelle, 31
In a world so driven by social media, it’s not uncommon to look at our entire lives through the lens of someone else’s, especially when it comes to relationships. Whether it’s that someone’s boyfriend bought her a piece of jewelry, she never talks about fights or problems, or they constantly post endless smiling selfies, it can be easy to wonder whether or not you’re doing it right if your relationship doesn’t look like theirs.
The thing about social media, though? People only post what they want to, and they can leave out anything they don’t want the world to know. In fact, one study actually found that those who post about their relationships most often tend to have lower self-esteem.
Not to mention that you and anyone you follow are two different people—if you don’t even wear jewelry, take a second to think about why it bothers you that someone else received some.
Unhappy? Work On It Or Leave
“If you’re not happy.. regardless of the reason (lack of passion, decreased attraction, growing apart)… try to fix it immediately or end it now. All of the time and stock invested in that relationship makes it harder to break up. So don’t settle because you’re comfortable or scared you wont find anyone else.”—Reddit user getnakederrday
Breaking up is hard to do, even when you want to do it, but the pain from a breakup is temporary. There are many reasons why people stay in relationships that aren’t meant for them, but doing so is doing both yourself and the other person a disservice.
Even someone who knows they’re unhappy might wonder if they could’ve done more to make things work or wish they could take it all back on their first night alone, but it’s important to remember that sometimes people just don’t work together romantically.
Stop Making Excuses
“If a guy wants to be with you, he will be with you. Don’t let him (or yourself) make any other excuses for it.”—Cristina, 34
Most of us have dealt with it before—the guy you’re interested in makes plans and then cancels because of an unexpected family dinner, a niece’s dance recital, or a friend who needed a ride to the airport. Sure, maybe you believed him the first time, but when it happens for the fifth time in a row, it’s time to accept that something’s not right.
Even with unexpected delays, people generally make time to see those they care about, and you’re better off moving along if that’s not the case.
Set Your Boundaries
“Just because it’s something you can deal with doesn’t mean it’s something you have to deal with or want to deal with.”—Reddit user [deleted]
Ultimately, no one you date is going to be perfect, and you’re not either. Everyone has their flaws, whether it’s that they’re not always super neat, they’re a messy eater, or they aren’t that good at cooking, though these are things that the average person would have no problem overlooking.
However, when it comes to things like rudeness, subtle (or less-than-subtle) racist or sexist quips, or jealousy that becomes slightly controlling, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to put up with anything you don’t like. The conversation might be tough, but if someone says they have no problem doing something that bothers you deeply, you should feel comfortable walking out the door.
Choose Connection Over Looks
“Look for someone you can talk to. Attraction will be there, but not during every moment of your relationship. So it’s important to find someone you feel connected to outside of looks.”—Deirdre, 30
We all know that looks truly aren’t everything in a relationship because people don’t look the same forever. In fact, we’d say finding someone you can confide in, talk to, and laugh with is just as important as finding someone that you think is attractive. Looks definitely matter, but the actual person behind those looks has to be a match for you, too.
You’re Great The Way You Are
“If they are constantly criticizing and trying to change you they don’t actually like you. Run, run fast and don’t look back.”—Reddit user 314159blahblah
Ultimately, not all criticism in a relationship is bad—if someone has the courage to be open with you and explain how something you did affected them, you should definitely listen. However, there’s a big difference between criticism that can help improve your relationship, and criticism that’s actually being used to control it.
If someone you’re dating seems to take issue with things that you feel help define you—your love of makeup, the style of clothing you wear, the way you talk—then they’re not accepting of you for who you actually are.
Games Never Work Out
“Games seem fun and exciting short-term. But long-term, they will make you absolutely miserable.”—Alicia, 30
Surprisingly, “play hard to get” is still a piece of dating advice that’s passed around these days—it’s touted as a way to add some mystery and not appear too eager with someone new. There are plenty of guys out there, however, who will tell you that they never realize when women are trying to “test” them, and they’ll just move on if things start getting too complex.
No one wants to come on too strong, but if you don’t go after anyone at all, don’t be surprised when their interest turns elsewhere.
Being Single Is Okay, Too
“Don’t be afraid to be alone, you don’t need to be in a relationship all the time, being single can be great too.”—Reddit user frostyfoxx
Comparison can come creeping in not only when you’re in a relationship, but also when you’re not. You might wonder why you’re not in one and if there’s something about you that makes you seem inadequate to others. We can guarantee that your time will come, but try not to stress until it does.
There are lots of perks to being single, and we think a lot of people in relationships would agree that they miss them—having the bed to yourself, not debating on what to watch on Netflix, or not juggling time between families on Christmas. Soak them in while they last.
Live Life Together and Apart
“He can make you very happy, but he cannot be the only source of your happiness and contentment. You need a life outside of him. That is absolutely key to your happiness and to the health of your love life.”—Joan, 31
It’s not unusual for couples to become interested in the same hobbies and pastimes, but spending some time apart is also key. Though part of your identity is tied into the relationship, you also have to keep a piece of it alive that’s all you.
Have a night with just the girls, go get a coffee alone, take a walk by yourself—whatever it takes for you to recharge, do it.
Don’t Give In To Pressure
“’No’ is a complete sentence. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do for the sake of ‘politeness.’ You don’t have to justify yourself to people who are pushy. You don’t have to go out for coffee and stay for half an hour because saying ‘sorry, not interested’ feels unconscionably rude.”—Reddit user patentspatented
It doesn’t matter how nice someone is or how handsome you find them—sometimes you just won’t like them romantically. Do both yourself and them a favor and just make it clear when you know that’s how you feel.
Getting coffee with someone doesn’t obligate you to like them, and you truly don’t have to have some big explanation as to why you’re not feeling it. Be polite when you’re having these conversations, but don’t let anyone convince you that you’re rude for not doing something you don’t really want to.