Giselle Defares
February 18, 2016 10:06 am

As a late bloomer, I didn’t dip my toe into the dating pool until I was in my early twenties. I really didn’t know what I was doing and my anxiety and self-consciousness let me believe that everybody had it all figured out.

Indeed, the pain of  romantic struggles will never be more keenly felt when everyone in your circle is in a fulfilling relationship except you. Your dating history and feelings are perhaps not as strange as some might try to make you feel. Yes, some are lucky and don’t have to act on unsolicited advice from friends, roommates or neighbors, because they’re introduced to the secret of relationships by their moms; I was not one of them. Trial and error are the components of my relationship wisdom and I happily share these nuggets with you.

Take care of yourself first, always

It’s tempting to jump into a relationship because you’re merely tired of being alone. To be quite honest, another person’s compassion is only a temporary band-aid if you’re not content with being yourself. So if your financial means allow it, spoil yourself with things that make you feel — physically, mentally or emotionally — good about yourself. Whether it’s books, facial masks, scented candles,cute underwear; it really doesn’t matter. As long as it will bring you comfort and you’ve treated yourself well.

People aren’t cartoons or fairytales

It’s easy to create a romanticized image of the object of your affection; the mere fact that you’re standing in their presence will obviously resolve all your problems. Alas, this is not reality. Everybody truly has their own issues and demons. Are you both dealing with your own problems the best as you can? If the answer is no, a relationship won’t fix your problems and will often complicate them if there’s no mutual understanding of what the other needs. It’s a cliché but it holds a kernel of truth: Communication is key. Try to be open in saying what it is that you need. If this causes friction, or they resent it, it’s definitely a red flag. Try to accept yourself first; flaws and all.

Being honest is hard but will save you grief in the end

It’s hard to be vulnerable and open yourself up to let another person into your personal realm. Still, it’s always best to be honest about where you are in that particular moment in life. From financial stress, family responsibilities, school and/or work, and so on. You’ll regret it when you start neglecting your priorities as a result of your dating vicissitudes. Let one know your — time or money — limits and work it out.

You don’t have to share everything right away

It’s good to share hidden parts of yourself  in order to find common ground or strengthen your bond, but it’s not necessary to hand them a detailed manual on everybody in your past. We’re all entitled to privacy — and the opportunity to move on from past relationships.

Sex matters, but it isn’t everything

It’s hard to take sex out of the equation when you’re evaluating your relationship. Sure, your bedroom life might be spectacular. But if you’re not shown respect, or if your mental and/or emotional wellbeing isn’t taken into consideration, sex is not going to fix it. If the sex is subpar, then you should be comfortable initiating an open conversation about what does and doesn’t work.

And if you’re now still uncertain about the dating game, take comfort in this tip from someone who’s still figuring it out: Do what feels best for you.

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