When it comes to relationship advice, they say hind-sight is 20/20. That’s definitely been true in my life. So much of what I’ve learned about love and relationships – by God’s grace – I’ve learned along the way.
But just as hindsight can teach us a lot about life and love, so can the experiences of others.
We can learn from the mistakes of others, and grow from the wisdom of others.
We can decide to follow in the ways that have caused others to succeed, and avoid the roadblocks that have caused others to stumble.
I have learned so much truth, and avoided so much pain, thanks to the role of great mentors in my life. Mentors who have opened their hearts to me, gave me a front row seat into their lives, and taught me along the way.
RELATIONSHIP ADVICE TO MYSELF
The other night as I was laying in bed, I thought about the things I would say to my single self…the relationship advice I didn’t know then, that I know now. And I’d love to share some of those thoughts with you.
You can’t know what you need in a relationship, until you know who you are.
This is absolutely number one on my list. It’s easy to spend so much time trying to find the right one, that you lose yourself in the process. Take the time to get to know yourself, so that you can get to know what kind of person will be a good fit for your life, and what kind of person won’t be.
Just because he (she) pursues you, doesn’t mean he’s (she’s) good for you.
I know this isn’t the typical relationship advice. We all have a desire to be love, to be pursued, to be wanted. But sometimes we fulfill that desire by allowing relationships into our lives that are neither good nor healthy. I made that mistake one too many times, and ended up paying the price in heartache.
Don’t try to force it to work, when it’s obviously not working.
Sometimes we know that a relationship is just really complicated, and difficult, yet we try to force it anyway. We make excuses when we should be setting boundaries. We try to push it into place instead of watching it fall into place – and then we end up pushing for the rest of time. But healthy relationships need to have the space to unfold naturally, step by step, without force.
Don’t be okay with a one-sided relationship.
I gave way too much in some of my past relationships, and expected way too little. Don’t make that mistake. In my new book, Love in Every Season, I explain that relationships are kind of life plants…give too little, and you’ll kill the relationship. But give too much, and you’ll ALSO kill the relationship. Finding that right balance is the sweet spot. Healthy relationships need to me made up of just as much giving as taking.
Give them the authentic version of yourself.
If you pretend to be someone you’re not, you’ll attract someone who falls in love with the false version of you. Don’t be so afraid of rejection that you fake who you are. Find someone who loves you for you.
Don’t trust your timeline.
Watching time go by when I was single was like seeing sand flow through my fingers. I felt like there was this clock ticking away, and I was late. Late to find the right person, late to start a family, late to have kids. Late to do what I wanted to do. But my internal clock was wrong.
I put so much trust in my timeline, that I started doubting God’s.
In the end, I realize how wrong I actually was – because if anything would have been different, I wouldn’t have the marriage I have today. And what I have today is something I would never trade for anything.
Gosh, did it hurt when I got rejected, when those guys weren’t as into me as I much as I was into them. Rejection hurts, it always will. But shifting your perspective about it changes everything. Seeing rejection as a closed door, helps you move toward the open doors instead. And looking back, I am eternally grateful for those closed doors – because they moved me in the direction of the man God had for me.
Don’t underestimate friendship.
Don’t let people scare you away from the friendship stage…you won’t get friend-zoned just because you choose friendship for a season. In fact, friendship is such a vital foundation for building a relationship. The best marriages happen when you marry your BFF…so cultivate a friendship first.
Just because you’re physically attracted to someone, doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
Don’t base your relationship choices on how physically attracted you are to someone, because physical attraction can be deceiving. It’s important to remember that physical attraction is important – but it’s only one piece to the pie of attraction. Search for someone who you’re mentally, emotionally, and spiritually attracted too as well, because that what completes the picture of a healthy relationship.
Don’t wait to live.
Don’t spend too much time believing that life will start once you…get married, start a family, have kids…because life is happening now. You can’t guarantee tomorrow, because you only have today for sure. So learn to live each day to the best of your ability, find joy in each moment, and live abundantly here and now.
You will only feel as complete in a relationship, as you do while standing alone.
That’s probably the most important relationship advice I could bring. So make sure you’re working on healing today — right now. Deal with your past baggage, get a grip on your identity, and ask God to give you a vision for your future. Everything you invest in becoming healthy and whole right now, you’ll reap the rewards for later in your relationships. It’s never in vain to become the best version of yourself.
Comment below: What relationship advice would you give to your single self?
BOOKS BY DEBRA
Get busy learning what you need to know about healthy singleness, dating, and marriage. Check out Love In Every Season: The Four Stages of Every Healthy Relationship, Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me or True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life.
And Check out Debra’s Love + Relationships Podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!
DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twi