We’ve heard lots of relationship advice. ‘Don’t be jealous—you’ll drive the other person away.’ Or, ‘Don’t go to bed angry! Talk about it till you find a solution, then kiss and make up.’ While these tips are, in theory, signs of a healthy relationship, they can be unrealistic. Psychologists have revamped the dating rules and offer a new, more liberating guidelines for a happy (and still healthy) relationship. Read on, and take a huge sigh of relief. True love suddenly just got easier.
1. It’s okay to be a little territorial.
Let’s make one thing clear, though. You are not, repeat not, going to take this as license to be possessive and unreasonable. That is just so, well, desperate. (Plus, a sign of co-dependency.) But you don’t have to lie to yourself, either. If your guy flirts with another girl at a bar, or spends hours talking about some chick in the office, you’re well within your rights to complain.
The trick is to phrase your comments so that your guy doesn’t think that you’re attacking him, or worse, controlling him. Don’t say, ‘You are such a flirt!’ Instead, call attention to her behavior: ‘I really hate the way she was hanging all over you.’ The cool thing about this is that (in a weird way) you’re making him feel better. It flatters guys to know that you don’t want to lose them, and you want to protect your relationship.
2. Sometimes you need space to calm down.
You’re mad at each other, and even though you’ve stopped yelling at each other, the silence is tension-filled and very, very fragile. You know that if you say something wrong—or even say it the wrong way—you’ll start another argument.
The fact is, you can’t work through a resolution if you’re still upset. You’re more likely to blurt out something you’ll regret, and even if he did make a valid point, do you think you’re ready to see it? Probably not. The best thing to do is to give each other space to calm down and sort things out.
However, don’t storm off or shut the other person out. Just say, ‘I’m still upset and I need time to settle down.’ Then, assure each other that you’re not going to just sweep all of this under the carpet—or let him get away with whatever it is that he did! ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow night.’
3. It’s okay to have a crush.
You really, really love your guy…but damn, that new neighbor is cute! Women tend to feel really guilty about fleeting attraction for other people. (Guys, on the other hand, will check out other girls without feeling a twinge of remorse.) Plus, they have a tendency to overanalyze this supposed ‘betrayal’ and then blow it out of proportion.
Girls, it’s just a crush. Or just lust. Both are okay—assuming you don’t act on it, of course. There is nothing wrong with your current relationship or you, for that matter. Assuming that you’re ‘betraying’ your guy because you have a crush on somebody else is as silly as filing for divorce because you giggled like a schoolgirl while reading about Edward in ‘Twilight.’
Following that logic, it’s okay to have fantasies too. In fact, some psychologists say that that could even make your current relationship more exciting—you get the endorphin rush from your, uh, active imagination, and he reaps the benefits. It’s just like eating oysters, but less fattening.
4. You don’t have to (always) keep him happy in bed.
Okay, we can almost see all the males reading this article raise a howl of protest: ‘Hey! What was wrong with the old rule?’
While good sex is crucial to a happy relationship, the fact is that 1) sex won’t always be good, and 2) he needs to keep you, happy too. The problem is if you’re the one who always goes out of your way to give him a ‘wow’ experience. Studies show that women aren’t comfortable about saying what they want, and may not complain if they aren’t sexually satisfied. Stop that. Now. He’s got to keep you happy, too, and the first step is to tell him how—even if it’s from moaning when he actually stumbles on something right.
And face it, sometimes you’re just not in the mood for sex—and it has nothing to do with your relationship. Stress and hormonal shifts can affect libido, and unlike men, women can’t just turn on a switch and say, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ It’s okay to say, ‘I just feel like cuddling now,’ or ‘Can we just kiss?’
5. A ‘perfect match’ means you like the same things.
No, no, no. You don’t have to share the same hobbies or interests. If he’s into football, and you hate it, then that’s fine. Neither do you have to resign yourself to watching the games with him because that’s what supportive girlfriends do. You’ll get bored, and eventually resentful, and this takes time away from your own interests. (It’s not like he’ll enjoy sitting next to you while you scrapbook.)
You need couple time, but you need ‘me time’ too. If you spend every single waking hour together you’re actually stifling each other and yourself. Your relationship will be so much richer if you have separate experiences that enhance your personality and even let you ‘miss’ each other.