Sunday, February 14, 2016

Relationship Advice 2016: Finding Someone

Given the date, relationship advice seems like an appropriate topic. So, I'll offer what little advice I can on the matter. After all, I've only been in my current relationship for three years or so, and I imagine my advice will evolve over the course of the next ten, twenty, or forty years.

This advice is going to assume that you're either seeking or want to maintain a long-term, stable relationship. If you enjoy the single lifestyle or polyamory, that's cool but I have no advice for you.

I'm going to break this into two distinct parts: finding a relationship and maintaining a relationship. I'll try to keep things gender-neutral so that this advice can apply to anyone.


One of my favorite Queen songs is "Somebody to Love," a song that touches on the frustrations of living without a relationship: questioning the unfairness of having nobody to share a life with no matter hard hard you work or how long you maintain your faith. It captures the resentment that builds and builds the longer you seek a relationship without finding one. I can relate to the song, having spent some time in that state myself.

However, there's nothing you can do to earn a relationship. Romance isn't a transaction. You can't put in a certain amount of time and the money and expect a result. Relationships are an interaction between two people, and you can't force a person to feel a certain way. If you think of relationships that way, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

My first piece of advice is to stop looking for a relationship altogether. This will help you in several ways:

First, potential partners can sense desperation. If you're looking to get into a relationship, the potential partner will notice and wonder if you're actually interested in them personally or if you're just interested in a relationship with anyone who's willing. Nobody wants to be a checkbox on someone else's list of achievements.

Second, it's important to realize that you don't need to be in a relationship to be happy. In fact, if you feel like you need to be in a relationship to find happiness, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Nobody else is going to be able to fill a void in your life and make you whole. A strong relationship involves two people who can support each other, not two people who can barely support themselves. Focus on yourself and become a person that other people can rely on.

This is very important, because learning how to be happy without being in a relationship will help you to deal with rejection and the possibility that you may never find a relationship. Eternal singlehood is a real possibility, and if you can't deal with that your life may be an endless struggle. Either way, rejection is inevitable, and self-reliance is a strong shield against its sting.

My second piece of advice is to build character. By that I mean you should learn valuable skills, get educated, and practice socializing.

Learning skills and getting an education are really just generally helpful in life. The actual acquisition of knowledge and ability are kind of secondary for the purposes of relationships, though. In this case, it's putting in the effort to better yourself that's the real goal here. You're exhibiting motivation, which is itself a skill that takes effort and practice. Over the course of this, though, you'll learn a lot about yourself and your desires, defining yourself as a person. With luck, you'll also walk away with some marketable skills, which are always handy.

Practicing your social skills is also important, and I say this as someone who has always struggled to communicate. It's important to learn to talk to people and hold conversations, both to be able to actively listen and comprehend what people are saying, and to be able to respond and communicate your own ideas. I recommend practicing this a lot as early as possible so that when you find yourself face to face with someone you're interested in someday you'll be able to do something other than stutter. (Again, speaking from experience: I had a significant stuttering problem when I was younger.)

The upside to all of this, besides potentially giving your life purpose on its own, is that you'll hopefully become an interesting person that someone else might take an interest in. From there, it's mostly a matter of making a life for yourself and leaving yourself open to a relationship without actively seeking one.

I've also got notes here about looking for someone you can rely on and how relationships mean a melding of two lives, not fitting someone else into a designated space in your own life, and so on. However, this post has gone on long enough. Suffice to say that if you've got yourself together and have found happiness on your own, then you can afford to be both particular about who you end up in a relationship with and flexible in how your lives will combine if and when you find someone appropriate.

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