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Sex + Relationships

Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Relationship

So technically it might not be winter yet, but let’s face the facts – summer in Canada lasts about two months and winter seems to last for an entire decade (I’m aware that this mathematically doesn’t even make any sense, but neither does our weather). So, with winter lurking around the corner, you can be sure to expect another popular season coming up: cuffing season! The season of cute winter dates, hours of cuddling and all things romantic and adorable. The season where new relationships seem to materialize out of thin air even faster than your deadlines. But before you catapult yourself into someone’s arms and jump into a relationship, here are some things you should consider first!

This article topic holds a dear place in my heart because it was something I was constantly researching when I was in high school – I didn’t know how else to prepare for a relationship. Keep in mind that these are things that I’ve personally learned, and if it doesn’t apply to you, that’s completely okay!

1. Think about what you can give to them, not vice versa.

I often hear people complaining about how their partner isn’t showering them with gifts or compliments or undying declarations of love. Bottom line: people tend to complain about everything their partner isn’t doing for them. I promise you I’m not judging, it’s important to take off your rose-coloured lenses every now and then and analyze the relationship to see how it can be improved for the better. But what if we reversed our way of thinking? What if, instead of penalizing our partners for everything they didn’t do, we tried to find things we could do for them instead? So, get them a cup of coffee the next time they’re cramming for an important exam. Committing acts of kindness for others helps enforce a positive mindset. You might realize that what you were complaining about before isn’t a big deal, and you might inspire your partner to try to reciprocate the kindness. Remember that communication should definitely be your first priority if there’s a serious issue. 

2. Everyone falls in love differently, and that’s okay!

I used to think it was a bad thing to be picky about who you date. I mean, what if that long-term friend you rejected turned out to be an amazing boyfriend and potential soulmate? But I’ve learned over time that because we all have different personalities, we are all going to be attracted to people in different ways. If you’re the type of person that falls in love gradually after knowing someone for a long time, that’s great! On the contrary, if you’re the type of person that falls in love instantly based on initial chemistry, and you just can’t fall in love any other way, please know that there’s nothing wrong with that either! If you know for a fact, or from experience, that you’re that type of person, don’t feel like you need to physically force yourself to date someone and hope that eventually you’ll love them. A relationship is so much more worth it when you actually want it, so if you know you don’t want it, don’t go into it. There’s no right or wrong way to fall in love.

3. Relationships take up a lot of energy.

Let’s be real – society and social media glamorizes relationships to the point where it basically becomes the number one thing that people want. You might be thinking that now is the perfect time to date around or jump into your first relationship and that’s completely fine, you do you! But before you go out on that first date, I want you to ask yourself what you want out of it. If you’re hoping it’ll blossom into something long-term, then I’m begging you to ask yourself if you are ready for a relationship. We often get enchanted by the romantic aspects of a relationship and we fail to consider how much energy it actually takes up. A relationship is a commitment, almost like another extra-curricular except with messy emotions involved as well. As precious as they are, they can be emotionally draining and very time-consuming, so please bear this in mind and ask yourself if you’re in a place where you feel like you’re ready to take on all of that. 

4. Spending time being single is crucial.

There’s no doubt that every relationship helps you learn about yourself and what you need in a partner. But in my opinion, the time you spend single is even more valuable for self-growth. This is because you literally have no one else to focus on except yourself. You can finally just focus on your wants and who you want to become, without needing to take another person into account. I find that people generally respond in two ways to a breakup: they either go into another relationship right away or they contemplate more and take some time to focus on themselves first. There’s nothing wrong with responding the first way, but make sure you know why you’re getting into another relationship. Do you just want to get to know other people? Do you genuinely care about the other person? Or are you subconsciously using relationships as a way of avoiding being alone? This isn’t to say you can’t learn about yourself in a relationship, but I feel like that analysis tends to take another person into account which can affect the way you think. It’s when we take some time to focus on ourselves that we can truly build our confidence and independence. 

5. No amount of planning can prepare you for what’s to come.

When I was in high school, I thought that if I dated a certain number of people, I would miraculously reach Mr. Right even quicker. I thought if a relationship could help me find out what I wanted in a partner, then multiple relationships would make me even wiser and make the process go by faster. Spoiler alert: that is absolutely not the case. I’m looking back at mini me and laughing at my absurdness. You could speed through ten different relationships, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll meet your future husband/wife any faster than that person who has only been in one relationship. At the same time, you could be at the club with your friends enjoying the single life and suddenly bump into someone who will eventually become someone special to you. There’s really no way to prepare you for who you might meet and when that might happen, so just enjoy the ride!

Whether you’re currently on the relationship market, or you aren’t and you just wanted to laugh at my attempt to give advice (or both), I hope my perspective was able to prepare you a little bit for what’s to come. And if not, I hope it at least got you contemplating! Here’s to wishing everyone a happy cuffing season, whether or not you’re actively participating!

Melissa Wang

Wilfrid Laurier '21

Melissa is a fourth year business student at Laurier with a huge passion for writing and sharing stories. In her spare time, you can find her running a 5km, taking a personality test for the tenth time, binging a novel when she really should be studying or deeply analyzing everyone around her.
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