We’ve all heard it before. Communication is the key to a strong, healthy relationship. I always knew that, but what I didn’t know was that being upset and using personal insults didn’t count as good communication. I mean, I was talking to the other person, right? I didn’t know any better, and when you start doing one thing, it’s hard to change your ways. Well recently, I met a guy that completely changed the way I thought about communicating in a relationship. I’m here to tell you guys everything that I’ve been doing wrong in the past four years of dating. That’s right. That’s how much I love you guys.
My Gigantic Communication Mistake #1: Answering a Question with a Question.
You know what it sounds like. “Who is that girl?” “Why, do you know her?” Or “What’s up?” “Nothing, why?”. It’s never a good idea to answer a question with a question, no matter how tough, rude, or out-of-the-blue the question is. It can only make you sound suspicious, and it reminds me of those cop movies where answering a question with a question means that you have something to hide (and they’re usually the guilty one…). I’m sure it’s not quite so dramatic, but my point is, answer the damn question when you’re asked. It’s better that you’re upfront and honest than to seem vague and shady.
My Gigantic Communication Mistake #2: Abusing the phrase “okay” and “sure”.
Everybody knows that saying “okay” or “sure” is female dictionary code for “I don’t like that, but whatever, go ahead because I don’t feel like talking about it anymore”. There comes a point where using anything too many times becomes ineffective, and I did just that. Eventually, they stop listening to your explanation-less responses and go ahead and do whatever they want to anyway. And that, my friend, is how to destroy communication between two people.
My Gigantic Communication Mistake #3: Talking too much.
I know it sounds stupid – if I talk a lot, I might as well talk a lot because that’s just how I am. But sometimes I talk so much that it sounds like I’m not even listening to what my guy is saying. And really, guys want to be heard as much as girls do, so shutting up and listening is really important to do sometimes.
My Gigantic Communication Mistake #4: Attempting to decode somebody that I don’t know well enough.
And it takes a lot to know somebody well enough to decode what they’re saying. I’ve known some people for like seven years and I still have no idea what they’re trying to convey under the words that they actually say. I’m not over-analyzing, I swear! Sometimes, it is what it is, and they really do just mean what they say. Don’t look for subtext all the time because you probably won’t find it, and that will only frustrate you further. But sometimes, there’s some serious decoding to do, which you shouldn’t attempt unless you know them incredibly well.
Now that I have thoroughly embarrassed myself, I think it’s time that you list some other communication mistakes for me. What are you going to do to stop them?
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I am the self-proclaimed Queen of creating awkward dating situations. (Okay, I’m the self-proclaimed Queen of a lot of things, and this is one of them.) I have stories about awkward dates that can keep us here for hours, so I won’t go into those. What I will do, though, is give you a couple of suggestions for things to say and/or do when you realize that you’re really not that into somebody on your date (usually the first one) and have nothing to say. These are for your entertainment only, and note that you will probably end up being one of those “one time I had this weird date” stories. My friends have also chipped in their awkward date stories, so buckle up, because I have some very…creative friends.
1. Start talking about all of your favorite childhood television shows.
Proclaim your love for your chosen Pokemon. Tell them about how you tried to become the Pink Power Ranger. Explain, very seriously, that Digimon will take over and that we should start training now, in case we get lost in a forest and find a refrigerator full of eggs (weirdest episode ever). The most important part about this is to keep on talking. Just watch their reactions.
2. Use your fork as your knife and your knife as your fork.
Try to cut your protein with your fork, and act genuinely confused when it doesn’t work properly. When you finally get a decent sized piece of meat, stab it with your knife and eat it. Act like you are doing nothing out of the ordinary. If you really want to take this one over the top, ask them why they are cutting their meat with their knife.
3. Talk about every single one of your habits.
Do you only eat ice cream in the dark? Do you think that Nutella tastes better standing up and straight out of the jar? Do you always start washing your left arm first in the shower? Tell them absolutely everything about your routines. It’s funny to start with your morning routine, like how many times you hit the snooze button before you get out of bed, and the precise method that you use to floss your teeth. Just skip the toilet humor…that might be going a little too far.
4. Act overly interested in everything that they say.
I imagine by now that you aren’t saying many things to your date, and if they’re like most of my awkward first dates, they will ask you random questions that come out of nowhere. Answer each of these with conviction and great detail. “Are you a morning person?” <insert two-minute speech here>.
Awkward dates don’t need to be totally boring. You can have fun with it your own way, but you might go down as the weirdest person they’ve ever met. I haven’t used any of these except for the first one (which I use profusely), so there are no guarantees for how these will turn out. Nonetheless, enjoy!
Photo found on http://allwomenstalk.com/10-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-on-a-first-date/
It happens, whether it is intentional or not. You become a third wheel when your best friends start new relationships. If your friends are considerate, this will only be a temporary stint of awkwardness. But sometimes, your friends are a little too wrapped up into their new significant other… and you’ll have to deal. So here’s a guide to surviving as the third wheel!
Communication is extremely important when you are fully aware of your impending third wheel condition. I cannot stress this enough –You’ve got to let them know (and early) that there are certain acts that are okay and not okay. If you’re okay with hand holding, let your BFF know. If you’re not okay with them sucking face in front of you, then make it clear! Just because you’re cool enough to chill with your friend AND her boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable while you’re with them.
Since you’re just one short of making it a double date, it’s time to plan accordingly. Maybe those trips to the amusement parks might not be the best idea if it’s the three of you – someone’s always going to be alone. Maybe going to the movies seems a little too date-ish… unless you’re going to see something that is couple-free, like action movies or raunchy comedies. Go to the park! Go out for lunch. Go kayaking! Play video games at someone’s house – you get the idea!
Once again, communication comes into play. You’re going to want to get along with your friend’s significant other (well, at least for the duration of your get-together). So come up with topics where everyone can chime in their own thoughts. Current events, pop culture, and general get-to-know-you questions should suffice.
Who says that a third wheeler must suffer alone? Invite another one of your mutual friends to add a sense of neutrality to the situation. If the new guy is a good guy, he’ll be okay with it. (And this way, you CAN go to the amusement park and have fun too.)
…Tell your BFF. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your bestie, and only your bestie. You have to let her know that – her telepathic link to you will have a bad connection due to the Honeymoon firewall! When you invite her out the next time, make sure the invite is only for her (and make sure that the clarity isn’t being mistaken as bitterness – that can be a problem).
Being the third wheel isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, I became best friends with my friend’s boyfriend just because I stuck with it and made sure I communicated when I wasn’t okay with certain things.
From Pamela, a Fellow Third Wheeler
Do you have any other tips on being the third wheel? Comment below!
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Okay, I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t have a nasty dating reputation. Thanks a lot, high school. It doesn’t help that there were only like 100 people in my grade and about 20 of them ended up going to the same university as me. So I was kind of known as…psycho. My friends are very nice and say “you’re not psycho, you just know what you want and you demand it”. But that kind of translates to psycho. So here’s how I survive my dating reputation – hopefully it will help you survive yours.
It’s probably not true.
I’m not completely crazy. It’s just a fact. I’m not a terrible girlfriend, I’m not a ridiculous person, and I’m not overly clingy. All of that stuff is relative anyway – the older we get, the less it seems to matter. Like how holding hands used to be the biggest deal. Anyway, just realize that whatever people say about you is just that – it’s not who you are.
Then again, it’s probably true to some extent.
Like I said, it’s all relative. People often say that I grew up too fast, and I’m starting to agree with them. I’m not up for flings or hook ups. And it’s perfectly fine if you are, too. I just seemed psycho in high school because I wanted (and still want) a long-term relationship, and that’s still weird to a lot of my friends. So think about where you stand relative to the people around you. It doesn’t define you, but it’s good to keep in mind.
You are who you are.
And I don’t think you should ever run from that. Being fake in a relationship defeats the purpose of being in one to begin with. You want to be in a relationship where you feel comfortable and accepted for exactly who you are. If you’ve been with someone for a while and still feel like you need to tiptoe around them, or you feel like there are things that you can’t say to them, it’s time to rethink where you’re going with them.
What’s your dating reputation? Is it preventing you from being yourself? Don’t let it own you!
Breaking up sucks. What else is new? It’s always hard to get over a break up and it can get really rough at times, but sometimes you can be friends again after a while. Some can even be friends right after the break up, which often happens if it was mutual. But sometimes, you break up and stop talking entirely, trying to get them out of your life all together. It might be okay for a while, but then they start to text you again. Awkward.
The way I see it, there are only three things you can do in this situation.
Choice 1: Respond.
Pro: You have the potential to bring another friendship into your life. Really, these are great friendships because you know so much about each other already, and you’re comfortable with each other. Alternatively, you both might end up wanting to get back together.
Con: You might end up wanting to get back together, but they won’t. Or vice versa. You could also find that neither of you like each other anymore at all. More awkward.
Choice 2: Ignore them at first, then respond when you’re ready.
Pro: You’ll be armed with the knowledge of what you really want out of your ex. A friendship? A date? You’ll know exactly what you’re going for, and you won’t “fall into” anything by accident. You’ll also be less emotionally driven and more logical after waiting a couple of days, weeks, or months.
Con: You might lose them in the time that you ignore them.
Choice 3: Don’t respond.
Pro: You really get them out of your life.
Con: It means that you still care about them. That is, their actions still affect you in some way, be it positive or negative. This means that if they double text you, you’ll probably cave. And this isn’t some Choice 2 response. That is, you probably won’t be cool about it. Maybe you’ll be like me and send them something really rude like, “What do you want?” Maybe you’ll do the opposite and be overly nice and say something like, “Heyyyy! What’s up?! How are you?! =D” In my experience, neither of these lead to great conversations.
What you choose to do is really up to you. However, if you’re going to reply, don’t try to get anything out of them. There could be a lot of unfinished business, and you might feel like they owe you an apology, an explanation, or some other kind of closure. Speaking from experience, you’re probably not going to get it. The only apology you might get is “I’m sorry that I hurt you”. If you’re anything like me, that’s the last apology that you want to hear.
So pause for a moment before you respond to that text or throw your phone back into your pocket. What do you really want? Which is your choice?
Leave a comment and tweet @vanessayylam!
Dump, break up, whatever you want to call it. I know how much it sucks to dump and be dumped. Now, I have recently learned that text messaging is a socially acceptable way to break up with somebody. My world promptly crashed. I did my research (read: I asked my friends), and I’ve uncovered a couple of lines that you aren’t allowed to use when dumping somebody. Ever. If any of these become socially acceptable, I might just have to be forever alone.
Do not change your Facebook status instead of actually telling the person yourself. Change your status, sure, but after you formally break up with them. Imagine somebody coming home to see that they are now “in a relationship” and there is no more “with <insert your name here>”. Oh, the anger that ensues. The text messages and the phone calls that you will receive. Oh dear.
“It’s not me, it’s you.”
I have legit heard this several times in various forms. The question “Why are you breaking up with me” should never be answered with a list of vague personality traits such as “you’re stupid / lazy / annoying”. Hopefully this goes without saying, but saying “it’s not me, it’s you” isn’t acceptable either. That’s the same as telling somebody that they’re just a crappy person. You’d never dump somebody by saying, “Well, you’re a crappy person, so I’m out.” I hope.
“I’ve been seeing someone else, and I like them better.”
Imagine dating like some sort of Pokémon-like “I choose you!” type of thing. Using this line is like Ash abandoning Pikachu. Not only are you admitting that you cheated, at least emotionally, but you’re also telling them that this “somebody else” is better than they are. In their minds, this “somebody else” is already the worst person in the world (or close, in any case), so telling them that they’re worse than one of the worst people in the world is not the best strategy. Actually, it’s a terrible strategy.
“I love you, but I can’t do this anymore.”
This is by far one of the most baffling break-up lines that I have ever heard. It actually confuses me to no end. I understand that you can love somebody and not be with them, but that’s usually because they don’t love you back. Maybe I’m just an idealist who believes that if two people really want to be together, they will be. If anybody has an explanation for this…comment below. Please.
“Let’s just be friends.”
Contrary to popular belief, using this line doesn’t soften the blow. I’m also pretty sure that this only works if neither one of you really liked the other to begin with. Or you dated in high school and are now committed to somebody else. Or you haven’t spoken to each other for like fifteen years.
I like honesty, but I think in this case, sugar-coating is acceptable.
About the Author: Vanessa Lam is a first year student at the University of Western Toronto. A big advocate of mental health and social wellness, she loves to give people advice about navigating your own personal health while surviving the social confusion of college relationships. She is an editor at Surviving College.
Photo found on http://landofnoprozac.tumblr.com/post/20747129956
We often talk about getting along well with our partners, and we often talk about fighting with our partners. What I don’t often hear about are those in-between conversations. They’re those serious conversations that you have when your partner is trying to give you constructive criticism about something that bothers them a little bit. Maybe they want you to text more often, or maybe they don’t like it when you hog the blankets when you sleep over. It’s easy to take these things personally, but it’s important to recognize that your partner is just trying to improve the quality of the relationship. So here are a few ways to take criticism without going crazy. (Because we all get crazy sometimes.)
It doesn’t mean that the rest of the relationship is awful.
Don’t overgeneralize. Just because you’re doing one thing that bothers your partner doesn’t mean that you bother them in general. It’s like the difference between hating your roommate when they don’t wash their dishes, and hating your roommate overall. Overgeneralizing can cause you to feel a lot worse than you really need to, and it’s definitely not the goal that your partner had in mind when they started the conversation.
Recognize when you’ve done something that your partner doesn’t like.
Understand your partner’s emotions and respond to them instead of simply asking yourself what you would do if your partner did the same to you. We’re all different when it comes to what bothers us. You might hate texting and prefer Skype, but that doesn’t make your partner feel any better when you don’t respond to your texts.
Take it and go.
(Russell Peters and Louis Vuitton anyone?) Change your actions. This doesn’t mean change as a person! Just, you know, text more often, or share the blankets. It’s the effort that counts, and it will go a long way in showing that you care.
We all do things that bother other people from time to time. That’s just a fact. It doesn’t mean that we’re terrible people, nor does it mean that we’re bad partners. Strong relationships come from responding well to each other during and after these more serious conversations, so it’s important to be able to take constructive criticism. But remember, it’s also important to give constructive criticism too! More on that later, though.
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And I don’t mean with your parents. I mean with your partner. It’s true, I think, to talk about your sex life and what you like or don’t like can only result in better experiences later on. But that being said there are seriously some times when you need to shhhh-ush up about it and move on for a while.
Right after you do it.
There is absolutely no reason to comment on this immediately afterwards. Let’s just pause and imagine this moment, shall we? I will bet you all of my shampoo and conditioner that the situation was not clever or smooth. I will also bet my shower gel that it ends in a very awkward moment.
I would think this were completely obvious, but it’s really awkward for everybody sitting near you on the bus if you start talking about your sex life out loud. This actually happened on one of my transit buses and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt like I needed to turn my music up louder to give them more privacy, while at the same time, feeling really bad for the guy who felt so awkward. Like, awkward enough for the both of us…for like a month.
When you’re focused on yourselves.
We all have those times in the year where we really just need to focus on ourselves. Maybe your partner is upset about something, or really focused on studying for exams and doing well. Whatever the situation, it’s never a good idea to give them one more thing to think / stress about. Besides, in this situation, there are other issues to focus on.
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So when I was thinking about this week’s post, I wondered – what have I experienced often that I can pass on to others? Well it’s pretty obvious to anybody who knows me. I have an incredibly destructive dating pattern, and it’s all because I just want to be nice. That, coupled with a few misunderstandings. So this is my take on how to survive your own dating cycle.
Stop. Being. Nice.
Uh, last time I checked, the relationship consisted of two people. That means that you’re, you know, one of them, which makes you pretty damn important. Don’t put your life aside for somebody else, and don’t do anything that you don’t want to do “because they want me to do it”. Terrible excuse. You need to be in the relationship for yourself. It sounds cliche, but you have to want your partner to be happy, which makes you happy. You need to feel loved, confident, and cared about. Sounds harsh, but it’s true: if you feel anything otherwise, run.
Be blatant and clear.
I’m not one to sugarcoat. Seriously, I don’t have the patience for that. I’d rather be straight up and clear than beat around the bush and have my partner become confused and thinking that I’m being evasive. Examples include my habit of messaging somebody asking, literally, “so do you like me or not?” or “are you actually my boyfriend or are you just dating around for now?”. Seems scary to a lot of people, I know, but it’s efficient. I have a no-nonsense attitude toward this because I hate to be left hanging. Once, before I spoke so bluntly, I ended up being somebody’s girlfriend for two weeks and I didn’t even know. This is why I demand clarity. Hey, it works.
“If a guy is treating you like he doesn’t give a shit, he genuinely doesn’t give a shit.”
One of my favorite movies of all time – He’s Just Not That Into You. I love it because it’s blatant (like me) and true when you think about it. If a person makes you feel bad about yourself, if you don’t think that they really care, they probably don’t. Avoid waiting around for that call. Run. Just run.
Relationships are supposed to make you happy. Does yours?
The other day I was Skyping my guy and his older brother comes down and starts talking to me too. Oh that’s not awkward. No, that’s not awkward at all. Cue intense female high-pitched giggling. Somehow, 15 minutes later, I was scheduling a time in my calendar to meet up with my guy and his brother for dinner. I’M SORRY, WHAT?! Please hold as I FREAK THE HELL OUT.
I will admit that meeting siblings is much less nerve-wracking than meeting the parents because they’re closer to you in age and generally, have the same kinds of values as the person you’re dating. However, depending on who you’re dating, the sibling’s opinion can be pretty darn important.
Calm the @#$% down.
When it comes down to it, it’s just another stranger. You’ve met strangers before. You’ve made friends out of strangers before too, and I’m sure you can do it again. Besides, the worst thing that can happen is that they end up disliking you. Which brings me to my next point…
They will probably like you.
If your guy chose well, his siblings will probably like you. Siblings are very similar to each other (they were brought up together, after all!), so they also tend to like the same kinds of people. Just be yourself, because you will never regret that. Or at least you shouldn’t. Don’t ever let anybody make you feel bad for being yourself!
Alternatively, you might hate each other.
In this case, your guy might too, since you guys are similar. That’s okay! Think the opposite of Monster in Law. Like, the exact opposite. Then you’re set.
Best of luck!
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