dating

What To Look For In A Friend’s New Partner

It’s always interesting when your friend starts dating someone new. You want the relationship to be good for your friend but also good for you. We are selfish creatures so there are many ways in which we worry about how a friend’s new fling will impact us. Will we like them? Will they like us? Can we hang out altogether? Do they understand that Sunday brunch is reserved for sacred gossip sessions and cannot be impeached upon? Will they treat your friend right or will you have to step in and get all Liam Neeson on their ass?

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I believe most of us ask two questions when our friends start dating someone;

  1. Do they remember it’s important to balance friend/partner time and make an effort to get that balance right? When couples can’t get this right, they fall victim to the ‘new relationship black hole’ and vanish off the face of the earth, leaving you friendless. In fact, the only way you know these people are still alive is through their ever sickening Facebook updates which have become a plethora of eye-rolling, gag worthy love notes to their new ‘bae’.
  2. Is their new partner a decent human being? They don’t have to be the type of person you’d want to date, or even the type of person you had in mind for your friend. They simply need to not be a shit person. If you’re able to make small talk at group gatherings and hang out with the couple without wanting to kill yourself, consider yourself lucky.

Sometimes, on rare occasion, your friend will start dating someone who exceeds expectations. I mean, they blow all other contenders out the water. If you’ve experienced this you’ll know that there’s almost nothing better; it fills you with joy and reaffirms your belief in love. Her partner knows friendships are important and encourages her to maintain them. He treats her right; he’s taken the time to get know her and likes her for who she is, he wants only the best for her. You are comfortable leaving her happiness in his hands. You get along with him; so much so that you actually consider him a friend, not just your friend’s partner. You can hang out with him when she’s not around and there are no awkward lulls in conversation. The two of you share a unique connection in that you’re both invested in your friend’s happiness. If she’s happy, you’re happy. And there’s nothing easier than being happy about your friend’s new relationship when you can see how good it is for her.

Don’t Dip Your Pen in the Company Ink

The title of this blog contains some pretty sound advice. Advice that people seem to have a hard time sticking to. Romantic or physical involvement with someone you work with can lead to all kinds of trouble. For starters, you have to see the person every single working day. That is a lot of days. This adds a whole other dimension to the initial stages of dating, where you normally only see each other once every week or two.

Most people have a few good hours to try everything on in your wardrobe before deciding on the first option you picked, to make sure you are in a fun, happy mood, to bring your A-game personality out for a date. Seeing someone you work with eliminates that – they see you under pressure, stressed, on those days where you slept through your alarm and didn’t have time to brush your hair so instead it’s sitting on top of your head like a bird’s nest. If you want to go for mid week dinner dates then they see you straight after the end of the work day when you are exhausted and just want to relax, without having to be the fun version of you that is normally reserved for dates.

And it’s not just in the workplace that this is an issue, oh no. The saying extends out beyond a company environment to include your group of friends, the people on your social soccer team, the bartender at your local pub. Especially the latter – that is one relationship you really don’t want to ruin. After all, you need to keep in good standing with the person who supplies you alcohol. How else will you drink away your sorrows after a particularly nasty break up with a co-worker?

If you become involved with any of these people and things turn sour, it can have a ripple effect of negative impacts, not only for you but the people around you, too.

Sure, the idea of getting it in on after hours in the boardroom where everyone will later sit, none the wiser, has a certain thrill. As does staying back after final call to do it pressed up against the bar, stained with the stickiness of spilt spirits earlier in the night. However, hooking up with someone you have to continually come into contact with even if things go wrong is an idea fraught with danger. And it doesn’t matter what type of ongoing relationship it is, there are pitfalls with them all.

If you’ve dated someone within your group of friends, those friends are faced with the awkward situation of trying not to take sides, of making sure they still include everyone while avoiding too many small group gatherings, in case a possible fight may break out. Work colleagues is even worse. If you aren’t able to be civil around each other then it affects everyone’s work environment, making it awkward for yourself, your co-workers, and your boss. And no one wants to be the person making their boss feel awkward…that can’t end well.

The moral of this story is, excuse the crudeness, don’t shit where you eat. Unless you are both incredible, awesome human beings who are able to see things in a logical, realistic manner; who are honest and upfront from the start; who can communicate any foreseeable future issues before they emerge; and who can take things for what they are and gracefully move on should things fall apart; then just don’t bother trying. Considering how few people there are in the world who tick all those boxes, you’re probably best just heeding the advice in the title of this blog from the outset.

The Good Break-up

I need to start this by saying that I’ve never had a particularly bad break-up. I’ve had break-ups at bad times – the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day – but the break-ups themselves have all been civil. However, my most recent was a really good break-up.

Good in the sense that it was for a good reason, with good intentions, at a good time and involving a good discussion. Girls have a bad habit of walking away from a situation and relaying to their girlfriends all the things they wish they’d done. “I wish I could have told him this” “I wish I didn’t let that slip by” “I wish I hadn’t acted that way”. We tell our girlfriends everything we’re thinking, but sometimes only say half of it to our partner. My break up went against that. I told him everything I was thinking, even if I knew it didn’t make sense, even if it was contradictory. I told him I loved him but was annoyed at him, that I understood but it made no sense, I made jokes about it while I cried, I cried because of the very person who was comforting me. I was honest with him. And I asked him so many questions to make sure he was honest with not only me, but more importantly with himself.

And at the end of it all, I realised that this was a really good break up. A good decision. It was one I would never have been able to make myself, but it meant that I can stay friends with him for so much longer. I get to keep this boy in my life. That in itself is what made me realise that breaking up is completely fine. I’ve always understood, but I know now more than ever, why he has been able to stay bestfriends with his previous girlfriend. He makes it such an easy transition, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. It’s everyone else that seems crazy when they tell me you shouldn’t stay friends with an ex because for me, with him, there’s no other option. It’s not a choice. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

This blog is really more for me, or him, than any of you. It’s not written to the best of my capabilities, it’s not witty, it’s not relevant for anyone except me. I just needed to get it down in writing. I needed to express how grateful I am for my good break-ups and how much I’m looking forward to being friends with my ex boyfriend.

Relationship Holidays

I have received a myriad of responses when telling people my boyfriend is going to Europe for a 2 month holiday. A classic came from my father the other night;
Me: He’s going on a contiki around Europe.
Dad: *Smirks* Good luck with that, honey.

Luck? Do I really need luck? Granted, my father’s understanding of what constitutes a contiki tour comes from the 1960/70s when the world was preaching ‘free love’, however this isn’t the only response I’ve had along these lines.

The most common follow up question is, “Are you ok with that?” followed by “Aren’t you worried about what he could get up to?” I’ve even been asked “Aren’t you mad at him?” That last one particularly threw me off.  However, all of them seem absurd to me.

The idea of a partner planning to leave without you to holiday for several months can be upsetting and even frustrating if you have been together several years, as you’ll wonder why they didn’t want to go away with you. I, however, am not in that situation. I haven’t even hit the one year mark in my relationship and it is in this type of situation that I call these questions ‘absurd’.

I do believe that this is where the last question ties in though, as being mad could relate to not being invited, followed by insecurity and wondering ‘why?’. I have no such concerns. After less than a year together, I would not advise spending 24 hours a day together for 2 months straight in multiple countries that don’t speak your language. You’re just asking for opportunities to fight and destroy the relationship. You’re also rushing into things a little too fast. Any relationship will be tested when you’re with the same person for that long. You wouldn’t go into an exam without spending a lot of time beforehand getting to know as much as you can about to the topic, would you? Likewise, don’t go into the extended holiday test underprepared.

In regards to the first two questions, my response would be as follows;

“Are you ok with that?”
Naturally, I am going to miss him, but of course I am ok with his leaving. Those who have been to Europe will tell you this isn’t an opportunity to be missed. More than ‘ok’ with it, I am excited for him.

“Aren’t you worried about what he could get up to?”
No. It’s as simple as that. Why? Because I TRUST him. A major player in a relationship, trust is something that should cross continents. Trust isn’t real if it is subject to location, to situation, to how easily you can get in contact. I trust him here. And if I can trust him when he’s staying at his ex-girlfriend’s house while visiting her in Melbourne (we might discuss that one later), then I can trust him when he goes to explore the world. I trust him to stay the great person he is, I trust him to do the right thing by me, and I trust him to tell me if anything changes while he’s away.

I understand that some people would be worried. But, if you love someone, and if they love you, shouldn’t you be secure in your relationship, no matter where you are?

The Stomach Flip

“Why haven’t you called me back?”
“You wanted me to be less available. So I was trying to be less available.”
“And then I realized that I had made my stomach flip all on my own. And it felt really nice.”

A favourite quote from Carrie in Sex and the City – Drama Queens, this is something females have a tendency to do ALL THE TIME in relationships. We over-analyse, over-think, over-worry about minor details and make ourselves believe that something is wrong.

Haven’t heard back from your man when you texted him three hours ago? He must be ignoring you on purpose or too busy flirting with another girl to reply. It can’t possibly be that he’s in a meeting, at the movies or his phone has died, oh no. Let’s ignore the more rational options and chose the far less likely, far more frustrating ones.

Even the most rational females can find themselves with their feet hitting the pavement, waving hello to their mind as it runs away with them. To make matters worse, the longer you don’t hear back from your man the longer you have to conjure up these irrational scenarios, each one more outrageous than the last.

The stages of this are always the same, too. Firstly, you wonder what he’s up to. You get a little bit annoyed but assure yourself, “he’ll reply any minute now”, hoping that if you check your phone every 10 seconds it will make him reply quicker (it won’t). After a while you start to worry that something might be wrong, he might have been in an accident or injured. More time passes and you figure if something was wrong, someone would have told you, so instead you think he’s ignoring you. Then you wonder why he’s ignoring you. Have you done something wrong? Cue running through all couple-related events over the last 24 hours…make that the last week. Nothing ringing any bells? Then maybe he’s just not interested anymore? Or is he cheating on you? Then you really start to get annoyed. “It doesn’t take long to send one little text but if he doesn’t want to reply to me that’s fine. I won’t reply to him. Ever. He can get screwed! Asshole.”

And after all of this worrying, anger and frustration, your phone buzzes. He’s calling you. He sounds terrible. The first words out of his mouth are an apology for not getting back to you sooner. He’s been in bed sleeping the last three hours as he’s come down with the flu. While you’ve been working yourself up and actually managed to become annoyed at him. All over nothing.

I’d like to say we learn from this mistake the first time and when faced with this situation again, we know not to worry. But the mind is a mysterious thing and the more time you’re left alone with it, the crazier it can get. Sure enough, you will make your stomach flip countless time throughout your dating life, only to realize it was all over nothing. But there is some comfort to take from this; we only worry because we don’t want anything to be wrong, with him or the relationship itself. We worry because we care. It’s just one of the many joys that come with the territory of being in love.