Rule 1. Be Yourself
Isn’t it so tempting to reinvent yourself when you meet somebody new who you really like—try and be who you think they are looking for? You could become sophisticated, or maybe strong, silent, and mysterious. At the very least, you could stop embarrassing yourself by making jokes at inappropriate moments or being pathetic when dealing with problems.
Actually, no you couldn’t. You might manage it for an evening or two, or even a month or two, but it’s going to be tough keeping it up forever. And if you think this person is the one—you know, the one—then you might be spending the next half century or so with them. Just imagine, 50 years of pretending to be sophisticated or suppressing your natural sense of humor.
You see, if you fake it, you’ll attract someone who belongs with a person that isn’t you. And how will that help? Somewhere out there is someone who wants exactly the kind of person you are, complete with all the flaws and failings you come with.
Rule 2. Get Over It Before You Get on with It
We all get battered and bruised by life, that’s inevitable. Some of us come off worse than others. Of course, it’s the scars that give us character, so they’re not all bad in the long run. In the short term, we may need to recover before we re-enter the fray.
If your last relationship or two has left you a bit of an emotional wreck, it’s better to repair the damage before you start looking for a new lover and partner. Otherwise you won’t be able to show them the real you, and you won’t be able to focus on them if you’re still preoccupied with yourself.
If you make a mistake with your new relationship (and it happens to us all), you could end up more bruised than when you started. Even if you did manage to find someone truly caring and loving, both of you could suffer because one of you wasn’t ready yet to launch into a relationship.
So do yourself a favor. Go away and hide somewhere while you lick your wounds. Enjoy your friends and your family, and wait until you’ve recovered before you start looking for a new partner. And when you do, try to pick someone whose scars are relatively well-healed, too—because this works the other way as well. In this way you both see each other as you trully are, and start your relationship the way you want to continue it.
Rule 3. You Won’t Be Happy with a Partner Until You Can Be Happy on Your Own
you need to learn to be happy and secure on your own. That way, you’ll never stay in a bad situation for fear of being left alone. If it’s not working out, you can simply leave. Far too many people stay in unhappy relationships because they’re scared to be alone. Rules players learn to enjoy living alone so that when they do choose to throw in their lot with a new partner, it’s for the right reasons.
After you’ve mastered this, you’ll only ever live with anyone else because you love them and they make you happy. Being alone is great, but being with them is even better. If that stops being the case, you’re free to leave.
Rule 4. You’ll Know Them When You Meet Them
If you aren’t sure right at the beginning, that’s normal. It may take weeks, months, or even years to be sure, especially if you’re of a naturally doubtful persuasion. That’s all fine. It’s just that until you are sure, you shouldn’t be making a permanent commitment.
Your new partner, of course, may be sure sooner than you are. We’re all different. But don’t allow them to pressure you into making a decision before you’re ready. It’s understandable that they want you to commit yourself—you’re a wonderful person, why wouldn’t they want to be with you? But no one will benefit if you make the wrong decision.
If this is really the right person for you to spend your life with, you won’t be thinking, “I don’t know. Is it me? I’m just not sure if this is right.” You’ll be thinking, “Yes, yes, yes, let’s get on with it!” If you’re not thinking that, you’re not ready to commit yourself.
Rule 5. Choose Someone Who Makes You Laugh
A sense of humor will last you long after everything else has gone. When you’re both sitting there in your rocking chairs, decades after retirement and the kids have long since grown up, it may be all you have left. If it is, it will be enough.
You don’t just want someone who makes you laugh generally, although that’s essential. The best thing of all is to find someone who can make you laugh at yourself. That will get you through life more smoothly than anything.
Rule 6. Being Less than a Hundred Percent Attractive Is a Great Filter
Anyone worth having will love you for yourself and won’t mind the physical imperfections (if they even consider them imperfections). Would you turn someone perfect down just because they were a bit overweight, or wore glasses, or had a big nose? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would anyone worthwhile do it to you?
Look, go and get your teeth fixed if you want to. Diet away the extra weight. Have a hair implant.
point is that you can make all the changes you like if it makes you happier, but it will not make you any more likely to find a good partner. If the perfect person is out there somewhere, they’ll find you anyway.
Be confident, and know that you are attractive to anyone deep enough to care about the whole of you, and not just what you’ll look like on their arm. When that someone finds you, you’ll feel sexy and gorgeous and completely forget about your flaws.
Rule 7. Don’t Keep Making the Same Mistakes
We all have certain patterns we keep following in relationships. Some of them are not a problem. If you always go for people who like animals, love being outdoors, or are five years older than you, that shouldn’t matter. However, if you always go for a type that just doesn’t work out, then you need to stop hitting your head against that particular brick wall.
You have to decide whether to commit your life to a string of failed relationships that everyone, including you, could have predicted—and probably did. No? Doesn’t appeal? In that case you must resolve to avoid any relationship that fits the pattern, rather than trying to kid yourself every time that this one is different. For some people this is quite easy after they’ve identified the problem. For others, it is very difficult. Sometimes you have to do quite a lot of work building your own confidence to break the mold.
However, if what you want in life is a happy, long-term relationship that really works and makes both of you feel great, there is no other way. However hard you find it to break the pattern, it will be worth it.
Rule 8. Certain People Are Off Limits (You Know Who They Are)
We don’t all set the boundaries in exactly the same places, of course. If you’re religious, you might consider anyone from a different religious background off limits. Maybe you believe that once a relationship has broken up it’s always okay to get involved with one of the partners, or maybe you believe that if the other partner is a good friend, that’s not acceptable. I don’t know where you draw your line—but you do.
If you’re in doubt, ask yourself what you would think if someone you knew did the same thing. Suppose a friend of yours got involved with her sister’s boyfriend. You might not say anything to her, but in private, would you disapprove? Would you think she was a bit out of order? If the answer is yes, you shouldn’t do it yourself.
Rule 9. You Can’t Change People
Sure, they can modify their behavior, but they can’t change their personality. You might persuade your messy partner to hang up the bathroom towel instead of leaving it on the floor, butyou can’t turn them into a tidy person—only a messy one who hangs up the towel. In the meantime the kitchen will be a mess and the floor of the car will be disgusting (in your view, but not theirs). It’s not just a question of being messy or tidy. You can’t stop someone from being irresponsible, football-obsessed, a workaholic, shy, or easily stressed.
So, if you can’t live with these characteristics, don’t get involved with someone who has them. Whatever you do, don’t embark on a relationship with someone thinking, “I can’t cope with this bit of their personality, but that’s okay—I’ll change it.” You won’t. You’ll just make both of you miserable.
Rule 10. Relationships Aren’t About Sex
Great sex is a wonderful thing. And if there isn’t any sexual attraction, even at the beginning, the relationship doesn’t stand much of a chance. But the best relationships will last a lifetime, and your libido may not. If the relationship is built on sex alone, you’ll be in trouble after you have to deal with children, money worries, elderly parents, career problems, and everything else life will throw at you sooner or later. A good romp in the bedroom just isn’t the solution to most of those issues.
If you’re free and single, it’s so easy to convince yourself that a strong sexual attraction or a great sex life is actually more than that. It’s easy to kid yourself that there is much more to the relationship. I’m sure there is more if you say so, but is there enough more? Is there enough to get you both through the bad times as well as the good times? To get you through illness and worry and the tragedies that all of us encounter sometime in our lives? If you’re not sure, then by all means go on enjoying the physical appeal of the relationship, but don’t commit yourself for life until the lust wears off and you can see clearly what’s left.