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We were four months into our relationship when my husband and I suddenly stopped communicating for three days.
We had a lovely date just the night before, and for absolutely no reason, we cut off communication.
The advice I received back then was obvious—and maybe expected: don’t initiate contact; he clearly doesn’t give a sh*t.
Trusting those who were dear and close to me, I took their advice to heart. Three days later, my now-husband called me and I still remember his voice that was filled with fear and uncertainty. “Are you okay? Why have you been distant?” he asked me.
I told him that I thought he didn’t want to see me anymore and that maybe it was best not to reach out. Disappointed, he explained to me that he was waiting for me to initiate contact because he felt insecure and vulnerable. But since I was distant, he thought I was the one who didn’t want to see him anymore.
We instantly met after that call, and what he said to me that night is still etched in my memory. He told me, “Suppose I wanted to stop seeing you, would you let me go this easily? I would expect you to talk to me and prove me wrong. That’s what love is, I guess, no? We don’t just let go of each other. We fight for each other.”
I felt so silly and stupid for not contacting him after he said this to me. He was right. Would I actually “just let him go” because he stopped contacting me? I guess not. Unfortunately, I was used to the fact that when a man doesn’t reach out, I shouldn’t reach out either.
He proved me wrong that day. He explained to me that he would love me to reach out because he, too, needs to feel safe and loved. After that incident, we took our relationship to the next level…and I learned something precious:
Mainstream dating advice is bullsh*t.
And I’m guilty as f*ck. In the past, I used to give dating advice that was clearly ineffective. But I didn’t know that at the time. I thought that “not calling unless he/she does” is helpful, that not having sex on the first couple of dates will make him/her commit, that waiting for “five hours to reply back” will make him/her miss you, that he should propose after two years, that if you haven’t met all his/her family members then they’re not into you, that you should just leave if he/she does a mistake, and so on.
The list is endless when it comes to telling people what to do in their relationships. And we need to stop.
Mainstream dating advice is not only bullsh*t, but dangerous too. In my situation, it almost cost me a successful relationship just because they told me I shouldn’t be the one initiating contact. I’m sure that it came from a good place (no one wants to hurt us or our relationship on purpose), but we need to be careful about what to believe and what to practice.
The best dating advice I would give right now is awareness and self-awareness.
Instead of constantly looking for dating advice, let’s put all our energy into learning more about our partner and ourselves. When we understand our partner and know what makes them tick, we can better understand their needs and wants, hence creating a healthy relationship that works for us.
Now read that again: creating a healthy relationship that works for us. We need to learn more about ourselves and our partner because every person is different—with different needs and wants. Our past, our traumas, our experiences are all different. What might have worked for our friend might not work for us, and vice versa.
We need to stop generalizing people and relationships.
Now, when my friends come to me for advice, the first thing I tell them is, “You know your partner better. What do you feel you should do?” It’s funny that they know the answer—every single time. We’re mostly too busy trying to know what others think rather than figuring out how our partner works.
Do the inner work. Understand yourself so your partner could also understand how to deal with you. See what works for you and put it into action. This will probably take time and patience, but once you have a full understanding of each other, your relationship will sail on calm waters.
Now tell me, “What do you feel you should do?”