I don't know where so many of us got the idea that love is this elusive force that a person should do anything to attain. We are told to do anything for love. This includes hiding the parts of ourselves that we think might make love flee.
Love is definitely an incredible force, but if you aren't real with your partner before you make it exclusive, it's basically like tricking someone into being with you. I don't mean tricking in a malicious or evil way. Hiding parts of who you are is actually more damaging to you than it is to the person you are seeing.
If you feel compelled to only show the person you are seeing your most flattering angles, then it means that somewhere deep inside, you expect you aren't worthy of someone loving the whole you. But your flaws are as worthy of care and attention as the best parts of yourself, and what you view as less than flattering characteristics might actually be what makes your relationship work. Before you make it exclusive with a new partner, you need to find a way to show off who you really are in a relationship. Here are some ways to make sure they know all of you:
1. What You're Like Around Your Friends
Before you make it exclusive, your partner should have some sense of who you surround yourself with and what you are like when you are around them. Whoever you are around your friends is the person you are when you let your guard down. Before you go exclusive, the person you're seeing should have a chance to see that side of you.
Showing the person you are dating your social side will give them a better idea of what makes you laugh and what you like to do when you're goofing off. If they hang out with you and your besties and express that they don't like one of your close friends, or you don't like the way you are when you hang around them, that's a huge red flag flapping in your breeze.
It could be a sign that the person you are seeing might be jealous or possessive, and seeing their behavior in this situation gives you time to reevaluate whether the relationship with them is something you really want. As an added bonus, introducing your friends to your potential partner will give your friends a chance to voice their objections if they have any.
Obviously, your friends are probably never going to think that the person you are dating is deserving of you, but if they think your potential partner is absolute scum, you should definitely hear them out.
2. What You Want Out Of A Relationship
Talking about what you want out of a relationship is a totally low-key conversation that everyone craves! I like to have them twice a day, if possible. I'm kidding, obviously. Talking about what you want out of a relationship is super stressful, takes a lot of introspection, and can potentially mean you stop seeing someone you really cared about if your desires don't align.
Even though it's intimidating, this conversation is an important one to have before you decide to be exclusive. The reason is that different people want different things out of a relationship. Some people want to see someone, but might be more focused on school or their career than on having a partner. Some people might want to see someone and “see where it goes,” but want to keep their options open about who they end up with forever. Some people aren't looking for forever at all. Some might be looking to get married in the next year.
It's absolutely crucial that you know what you're looking for in a partner, too, so that you don't fall into a relationship that isn't actually working in your best interest.
It's easy to get distracted from your bigger ambitions, like work or school, when you meet someone exciting. And while you might have the urge to give up on your bigger plans for that someone special, a year or two down the line, this will lead to resentment.
So before you go into this conversation, I recommend making a list of your own expectations from a relationship. Are you looking to move in after a year together? Do you want to get married one day? Do you want to have children?
Think about the smaller things, too. Do you want this person to eventually meet your parents? How many nights a week do you want them to sleep over, or to sleep at their place? What did you want before you met this person? Do you still think that you can achieve your goals if you are with them? Or is this person going to hold you back in some way? Is it worth the trade?
It's OK if you don't have all the answers right now, and if you think that things might change as time progresses. It's also understandable if you're not comfortable bringing all of these expectations up with the person you just started seeing. However, just making this list ensures that you are clear with yourself about what you want and what you're getting.
Clearing the air about one another's expectations for a relationship ensures that neither one of you is entering into something without being completely clear about what it means for you, for them, and for the future you might have together.
If you're too scared to bring up what you want at all, then I recommend putting your list in a PowerPoint and emailing it to them. Hey, if they don't like it, you never have to see them again!
3. How You Have Been Hurt Before
You might think it's unsexy to talk about heartbreak, but I beg to disagree. I've had some of the best sex of my life after complaining about how old partners wounded me! Ditto for asking others how they have been hurt. Sharing your past at the right time brings you closer.
I admit that it is painful to revisit the wounds of the past. The thing is, though, that you are a product of your relationships. Whatever happened to you in your past partnerships is going to play into the previous one.
If you were cheated on, that will probably impact your trust issues. If you felt suffocated, then you might have fear of intimacy with this new person you are seeing. And along that line of thought, if you are still talking to your ex or you're friends with them, that is definitely something that needs to be voiced.
Revealing what happened in your previous relationships will probably bring the two of you closer together, as sharing in vulnerabilities and insecurities has a bonding effect. Plus, it gives your potential partner a heads up about some of your bruises before you go exclusive.
Letting them know the mistakes that your previous partner made gives them fair warning that your new boo shouldn't do the same.
4. That You Have No Chill
One thing I absolutely hate to hear from a new person I am seeing is that I "seem pretty chill." This is usually delivered like it's supposed to be a compliment, but it makes me feel like they are talking about someone else completely.
I am fun. I am easy to get along with. I tell jokes and can be laid back at times. But I am definitely not chill.
I get anxious. I have daddy issues and a simultaneous fear of intimacy and an overwhelming terror of loss. I can exhibit jealous behaviors at times, and I require a lot of intellectual stimulation and physical attention always. If I'm being chill, it's just because I haven't gotten close enough to someone to show them all of these less-flattering traits I carry.
While there are definitely people who are truly laid back, I realize that “chill” is often used as a euphemism for women who let others walk all over them.
A “chill” woman doesn't care whether or not you text back. A “chill” woman is totally fine with their partner going home with someone else after they met you at the bar. A “chill” woman is able to sit in a room full of drunk guys talking about football and won't show that she is visibly bored.
I acknowledge that this mysterious chill woman definitely exists in all of us, because she definitely has existed in me. She only comes out when I care so little about a relationship that I don't notice that someone is being a d*ck, when I lack the self-confidence to say something is bothering me, or (and this is the worst) when I am so afraid of losing someone that I am willing to be uncomfortable or hurt.
I would like to downplay the importance of being a “chill” woman, though, for the sake of all of us. She isn't an accurate reflection of the flawed human beings we all definitely are, and she makes a relationship harder in the long run because she sets up a false expectation.
So before you make it exclusive, your partner should know just how little chill you actually have. And they should be totally fine with that.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!