Waiting is hard… I get it! When I go around to different schools and talk about healthy dating and relationships and the important character traits to develop in yourself, as well as find in someone else, patience is always the number one thing I hear that teens struggle with. I mean, come on, we can microwave our dinner in a minute, google an answer to pretty much anything in a second… so who has time to wait!?
Ever hear of the old saying, ‘good things come to those who wait’? Well it may not be so far off actually, and especially rings true when it comes to dating. Before you tune me out, thinking I’m sooo old school, hear me out! When you start to date someone, are you truly showing all of your different sides (like the ones your family sees), past baggage, and bad habits, right off the bat? No, of course not! That stuff starts to really come out by month 3… right when we’re starting to feel comfortable around the other person and not worry they’re going to jet if we get a little loco sometimes.
This is why it’s important to set some boundaries from the get-go… I’m talking pace yourself. Uh-oh, you read it right, the dreaded word ‘boundaries.’ It almost always produces an eye-roll and groan because boundaries sound so limiting – so restrictive – so much like a set of RULES! But think about it for a sec, because boundaries can be a great thing in all areas of our lives. It’s what helps us to be able to live free, well-adjusted, and less-stressed lives. To be able to say no to some things because it’s either not the right timing, not good for us, or would be just too much on our plates. Think about how overwhelmed you would feel if you said yes to every single thing someone asked of you. It’s just not possible to do everything. You’d feel a lot better about doing what you can handle and just being good… like really good, at just a few things.
The beginning of relationships are usually the best- mushy, gushy, amazing times… without many hiccups, because you’re on your best behavior and someone’s real self hasn’t fully emerged. If your relationship is full speed ahead from the start, then most likely you’re going to be in too deep already to see clearly when problems and differences do start to pop up! So some things to know firmly in your head and heart before heading into your next relationship are: how much are you going to trust this person in the beginning? Depend on them? How far are you willing to go sexually? Don’t let your partner decide these things for you, or it’s all too easy to just ‘slide’ into whatever the other person wants, instead of deciding what’s best for you, the relationship, and your future.
So how do you go about this? Talk to your partner in those first few months and really get to know them. Is there something there that bothers you? Different values? Compromises that you’d have to make for the relationship? If something comes up that really bothers you, talk to them about it and see how they respond. Are they open to change? How flexible are they? How aware are they of how things affect you? These are all good signs if someone is willing to consider how you’re feeling and make even small changes, if needed. It takes time for the guard to come down so you can evaluate whether there are certain behaviors or beliefs that are deal breakers. Then you can decide whether or not to continue to invest your time and move forward with your whole heart.
Lauren A. Caron