What I’ve learned in the last two years— with a boyfriend moving in, quitting my job, forming a company with boyfriend, boyfriend moving out, boyfriend breaking up, and other summer adventures:
My Top Twelve Life Lessons from the Last Two Years:
1. Don’t have the boyfriend move in right away.
I know, you’re feeling totally lovey-dovey and want to jump each other’s bones every few hours. That’s great. But also remember that balance and perspective are two things you don’t have a lot of right now so trust me when I say DO NOT have him move in just because you think that would be more convenient to your sex schedule. Right now what makes everything fun and tantalizing is exactly because you have your own places and can see each other whenever you want to but still have your place to yourself if/when you want to. I know it feels like you never want to right now, but having the freedom there in the back of your mind is what makes it all work. Take that away and it will feel lot more like prison than a honeymoon. Instead take your time, enjoy the honeymoon period, and later when things have calmed down, then feel free to have a conversation about it, the pros and cons, the logistics etc. Don’t just rush into it because it feels good in the moment. And don’t do it to save money either, tempting as that is.
2. Heed red flag/warning signs.
This is not the first time I’ve ignored warning signs. You’d think I’d have learned by now. Anyways, I can pin down the exact moments when both the ex and the abusive guy exploded and showed me their tempers for the first time. And yet I continued with the relationship, even though it shook me to the core, devastated me, and I couldn’t understand how the man I loved could act in this way.
3. Don’t hole up as a couple for too long.
Yes I understand you will want to do this for a while and that’s fine. But if you don’t snap yourself out of it you will soon tire of it and then it will be too late. You’ll get tired of your routine and being stuck with each other at home. You’ll have ruined what was originally a fun, cozy, romantic thing together. So make sure to still go out with your girlfriends, and him with his guy friends, and still do the stuff you used to love doing. I dropped all of the stuff I used to do when I was single when I was with the ex. And I continued for two years. No wonder I felt trapped. I had limited myself. I stopped swimming, salsa, and surfing. There’s no way he alone could have made me happy in every way. There were other things I was passionate about other than hanging out or going to dinner with him. I just needed to push myself out there.
4. Just because a guy hits on you doesn’t mean you have to give in.
Ah yes. The popular excuse of many a girl. ‘Well he pursued me.’ Sure that’s fine and understandable but it doesn’t mean you need to reciprocate. Be ready for him to lay on the pressure. They don’t give up easily. One comeback could be to tell him you will stop hanging out with him if he doesn’t stop harassing you. He definitely doesn’t want to lose you altogether so a good wake up call could help.
5. Similarly, don’t mix work with pleasure—or rather, sports with romance.
When you mix two areas of your life, things will get complicated. If that’s what you want or like then great. If not, then be prepared for messiness. Most of us can’t barely handle one relationship cleanly, nevermind mixing up two—for example, a lover and business partner. So if one area is especially important to you, like a workout buddy, then don’t makeout with him. I know it’s so tempting and you’re all hot and sweaty together. Just know that you are risking it all to go down the drain when you cross the friend zone.
6. Don’t caretake—no matter how bad you feel for him.
I’m sure you’re a loving, caring, giving person. Sure I am too. We’re hardwired to be that way since we popped out of the womb (by external training I mean). We are women. That doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Men love to be caretaken. At least, most men do. Don’t fall for it. They will value you more if you give less. Anyways you don’t want to be sucked dry like a leech. Sure if he’s your boyfriend go ahead take care of him when he’s sick. But don’t put his needs before your’s even if you are in love with him. You’ll only resent it later. And if he’s not your boyfriend, definitely don’t go overboard. Take the time to step back and think about what you’re getting yourself into.
7. Don’t start a company with your lover. If you must, at least have everything in writing so if things fall apart you know who’s getting what.
Well I did start a company with the ex. And now I have no boyfriend and no company. And no we did not have anything in writing about what would happen if things fell apart between us because I was living in La-La Land and he never wanted to break up anyways. Again remember that balance and perspective is not your strong suit right now and you will be loathe to want to do this but it’s like taking vitamins when you’re well it’s a preventative and who knows it just might save your ass and lot of headache and possibly money later.
8. Denial and fantasy is great and all, but it’s also nice to job hunt before you are desperate.
So usually I am very cautious and good at being prepared. I think sometimes I change over the years and I don’t realize it until the new situation is upon me and I’m like oh shit, I guess I’m not as cautious as I used to be. When I moved to Hawaii I brought over 3 months of savings worth. I thought that gave me enough time to at least start temping or waitressing while I looked for a more long-term serious endeavor. I had lot of fun stand up paddling and surfing this fall and summer but I finally snapped out of my fantasy reverie and realized I need to start making some money and this blog wasn’t cutting it. Also waking up to reality does feel good. Even though you think escaping and fantasy land is so fuzzy and warm, it also feels good when you wake up and decide to take your life into your hands and do something.
9. You can quit your job when you feel ‘ready’, just know that you may still regret it later.
Life is full of risks and regrets. That’s a good thing. That means you tried and made mistakes and wiped yourself off and tried again. If you weren’t making any mistakes that means you weren’t taking any risks which means you wouldn’t be moving forward which means you wouldn’t be gaining anything. Regrets are understandable as long as you remember that you’re only able to regret now because you took a risk before. That means you tried. After 10 attempts you could succeed once. But if you never try you’ll never succeed. And you’ll never know.
10. Dreams take preparation.
Yes I want you to pursue your dreams but remember it takes time, hard work, preparation, and savings. Don’t stop dreaming but remember that it can’t all happen now. This is what I still tell myself everyday. I’m generally a very impatient person. But if I up and fly off to do my dream now it won’t be so great anyways. Because I don’t have it all planned out and I don’t have the savings needed. Sure warm water and waves are always recharging but I actually have goals and they won’t happen if I just up and go without my wits about me. It will be that much more worthwhile if I plan and save up and execute it when I’m ready—financially and mentally. It’s exciting to prepare.
11. You will feel lost at times and that’s OK.
I’m 33 and don’t feel like this is an appropriate age to feel lost at all. Then again when is? A girlfriend suggested that I wake up in the mornings and do a ‘gratitude journal.’ About all the things that I appreciate and am grateful for. A lot of people nearby me don’t even have a home anymore, nevermind a shower or their things that are all swept away by the ocean or burned in a fire. It makes me feel more grounded to remember all the things I have achieved so far. Being lost and letting oneself wander and float without direction is a good thing. That means I’m not just taking a road that others placed before me and I’m actually thinking every step of the way what do I want to do with my life right now? It often changes as I change and grow. I have new experiences and then new thoughts. It’s easy to get sunk in the lost feeling like I need to know exactly where I’m going all the time and there’s something wrong with me if I don’t. Instead try to enjoy it and trust that the next step will come to you.
12. You are your harshest critic.
It’s good to remember during these confusing times that you are your harshest critic. Let up on yourself. Many of us were trained to be hard on ourselves since we were very young. It’s a hard habit to break. The first step is awareness. Notice when the harsh voices are speaking up. ‘Well isn’t that interesting.’ And then turn the volume down. Dance in your living room. Sing along to youtube karaoke. Attack a cleaning project you’ve been procrastinating on. Volunteer. Remember that anyone at any time is doing the best that they can, and this above all, means you.
Question: What’s a life lesson you’d most like to share?
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