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Become Obsessed With Relationship Rules. But *Not* These Ones. 

A list of what not to do in relationships has a few problems.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 8 days ago 10 min read
Image created on Canva

My husband often warns me about spending too much time on Twitter.

I usually agree with him, often with zero intention of taking his advice in perpetuity. But after seeing this thread, I believe I'm starting to see where he is coming from.

This was the title of the thread:

"Never do in a relationship"

That was it. Clear, simple, short, and to the point. Here's what not to do in a relationship. 

The clickbait worked on me. I had to see what the golden rules were. Having been married for six years, dated my husband for ten, and spent the last twenty years on the dating scene, I had to know.

Was I breaking these rules?

Am I doing things, and preaching things, about relationships that are wrong?

Curiosity got the better of me.

And without throwing shade at the author of this list, I wished I hadn't read it. I felt infuriated reading the generic advice. But more so by tips that don't help hopeless lovers do the right thing.

I apologise for inflicting this list upon you. Yet, I couldn't stand by and let people think this list was entirely normal.

And I couldn't let people believe this was how to have romantic relationships, without question.

This is the list of what never to do in a relationship, and all the reasons it's entirely wrong.

"1. Never talk anything about your ex or past."

Ok, well I've already broken this rule a million times before.

My husband was actually friends with my ex. That's how I met my husband. They worked together.

Because of that relationship and the shared times we had before we got together, it's impossible not to mention the ex.

You could say I'm a special circumstance, but what about my stepdad? Let's look at his situation.

What would have happened when my father died? Was he not allowed to talk to my mum about her ex, the funeral, and all the family drama that surrounded his death? Was he not allowed to talk about my father went he met my aunty, my father's sister?

And on that, my stepfather's wife died before he met my mother. Was Mum never to ask, even though his grandchildren were running around them? Was she meant to ignore his past?

To do that, she would have to ignore everything about him up until the day they met. Considering my mother is in her late sixties, that's a lot of life to ignore.

The past can't be a taboo topic.

The past, what has happened, who you've dated, and why you're single, define who you are. Though it doesn't entirely define every facet of you, it tells your partner why you've come to this point in your life.

There are going to be things you don't want them to know. That's fine. But to never speak about what happened before your partner came on the scene?

Completely irrational.

"2. Never talk or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable."

In relationships, there are two types of 'uncomfortable'.

There is the bad one, that most people think of when we say the word. And more than likely the one the author of this list intended as their point.

But in the spirit of some people confusing this advice, I want to offer some clarity.

This first uncomfortable is doing things that put your partner in an unhappy place. It makes them feel like they can't be around you, that they don't trust you, or that they don't feel safe around you.

What that is changes from person to person, but the feeling doesn't. 

'Uncomfortable' is the reason people leave a relationship.

The other uncomfortable is everything your partner does to help push you outside of your comfort zone.

They take you to a new restaurant to try a new cuisine for the first time. They suggest you go to that job interview you're too scared to do. They challenge you to a sport you think you can't do.

You don't feel harmed by your partner when they do this. You feel like someone is giving you a healthy life challenge.

People don't grow inside the confines of a comfort zone. They grow when they're faced with uncomfortable situations. Sometimes, your partner is the best one to help you enter that situation.

"3. Never make them feel restricted."

I agree with this advice.

To make your partner feel like they can't do what they want to do, or be who they want to be, doesn't help build a healthy relationship. It does the opposite.

It breeds resentment, which then causes a whole host of other issues.

When two people date, they don't look for someone to control them. They're looking for someone to go through life with.

But when we become a partnership, we set the ground rules. We set the values we have for a relationship; what we're willing to put up with.

And we set everything a partner can do to screw up the relationship. The deal breakers.

Restrictions or compliance?

When these rules get put in place, some people find themselves restricted. Even though they've come up with the rules and agreed to them, they still feel like their partner is trying to control them.

They object to having to keep to their word. Like being faithful, for example. It's hard to do when you're feeling challenged by an attractive person.

And instead of blaming yourself for feeling challenged, you blame the 'restrictive' partner.

This is a time when the partner isn't being restrictive, by the way. They're simply adhering to the rules you set together. They're doing right by the relationship.

"4. Never doubt on them. If they are into you really, they will never cheat on you."

The writer in me doesn't like how this listmaker phrased the first sentence. That aside, I understand the idea this person is trying to convey.

Don't question the loyalty of your partner. When they care about you, they won't cheat.

I get that. It's a good theory.

But people will tell you they care about you and love you and make you feel like they would never do anything to you.

Yet, people lie. They gaslight you. They manipulate you. They tell you everything you want to hear, and everything you need to believe they care and won't cheat on you.

Actions and words are two very different things.

If someone is giving you cause not to trust them, you're the fool for not taking action. This blind trust should never outweigh your instincts when someone is acting like they're cheating.

I don't need to go into the thousands of ways someone can do that. Yet, if they're standing right in front of you, kissing someone else, you would doubt them, right?

There has to be a line where trust has to give way to what's in plain sight.

5. Never make them feel like a partner they can't share anything. First, be a great friend before a partner.

I completely agree, wholeheartedly with this statement. I can't find fault in the sentiment.

Except for the fact it one hundred percent contradicts the first rule.

That rule told you not to talk about your past. And this one encourages everyone to have honest, open communication.

Which one is it?!

This is where people suffer in relationships; they become bamboozled by these rules. And for good reason, too.

There's one rule for one situation and one rule for another.

How do you survive when your relationship expectations always contradict each other? How do you navigate what each other wants when it's never straightforward?

"6. Never compare them with your ex or someone. Everyone is unique."

Comparison is the enemy.

There are always going to be losers when we play the comparison game. Either you're going to lose, or your partner will. Either way, it spells the end.

The only issue I see with this piece of advice is that comparison is normal.

We compare for a living. 

We're constantly comparing our lives with others, our success with others, and how we behave compared to others. It's something that we try to resist but it's only human to make comparisons.

And as much as we try not to do this, others will tell you some comparison in a relationship is healthy. Sometimes, comparing your partner to your ex helps you see how good it is you're not with your ex.

And how lucky you are to have such a partner.

Though we should know how amazing our partner is without such comparison, we all learn things in our own way.

"7. Never get angry on them and even if you get. Try to self control and divert your mind. Some unknown actions of yours can destroy the whole relationship."

Again, I would have loved a little more proofreading before this tweet went live. Alas, we work with what we have.

But the gist seems to be; don't get angry at your partner.

We all know anger isn't an acceptable emotion in society. We fear anger. In many ways, we're fearing a human emotion everyone experiences.

This fear is a little irrational.

Fear aside, we need to remember anger manifests in different ways. Anger can be healthy; it can help resolve issues, it can help assert one's values, and it can be the only type of communication that makes changes.

Anger doesn't always have to manifest as yelling and screaming. This is a cliche and simplistic way of viewing anger.

Suppressed anger is the enemy too.

If you can't say what you feel, if you can't express those normal frustrations with a partner, this will bubble over at the worst possible time. 

You will end up blowing up at them when the timing is wrong and when you can't undo the damage.

"8. Never use abusive words for them or their family or friends. Remember, words are like sword. Think before you speak."

I agree. I completely agree. Abuse doesn't belong in any relationship.

But everyone needs a little education on what abusive words are, though. I know it seems obvious to many, but abuse is like anger. People go to the extremes of what it means or the extremes of how it feels when that isn't the case.

The definition of abusive words means something to you, to me, to the person sitting next to you. It's all about how it's said, when it's said and the relationship between the two people saying it.

I thought my ex telling me I didn't look good in an outfit was abusive. He was trying to bring me down, belittle me, and deliberately make me feel I was inferior.

When I told other people the story, they thought he was being honest.

Who is right in this situation?

I don't want to belittle anyone who is in an abusive situation. That's not what I'm saying. This is more about people mislabeling abuse in relationships. They use it to make them feel like a victim, to win the relationship.

I've added one of my own by the way…

9. Never listen to anyone telling you what to do in your own relationship

Advice is good. Guidance helps you sort your feelings out. Other people's opinions help you see the romantic world from another way.

But a list like this, flat-out telling you what to do and what not to do is a recipe for disaster.

You know this list isn't tailored to you and your specific situation. And as you've discovered, circumstance is a greater factor in relationships than we give it credit for.

The key to successful relationship rules is specificity. Have rules that pertain to the relationship between you and your partner. And you set them together.

Love doesn't flourish when you live by what society says you should do. Especially considering society doesn't hop into bed with you at the end of the night.

I probably don't need to tell you to do you. But seriously, do you. Break the rules, you might find yourself somewhere amazing.

Or don't, it's up to you.


About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

Writes about romanceships (romance + relationships) | Loves to talk about behind the scenes of being a solopreneur on The Frolics | Writes 1 Lovelock Drive | Discover everything I do and share here:

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