By Mac Pomeroy
For as long as I have been a columnist, there is one topic that has been requested more than any other. I have been approached over a dozen times regarding this subject, but I have always rejected it because I don’t feel like I am the writer for the job.
What is this mysterious topic that I have avoided for nearly three years? Dating advice.
There is a simple reason why I have never discussed relationships in my columns. It isn’t because I am uncomfortable with the topic, nor that I prefer to keep that part of my life private.
No — I just don’t date.
I’ve had a few crushes over the course of my life, but that’s about the extent of my experience. Dating has always felt so stressful. Currently, I barely have the energy to deal with my own problems, much less someone else’s.
Socially, that hasn’t stopped me from becoming a bit of an Aunt Agony. I’ve never worn the rose-tinted glasses — the idea of romance does not fog my judgment. Somehow, I have become the go-to friend for relationship advice.
So, perhaps I can help shed some light on your own relationship.
First of all, if you see a red flag in your relationship, take it as a red flag. Stop collecting them, stop trying to color over them. A red flag is a red flag.
In order to understand that, you first need to know what a red flag looks like. Same as any other kind of human interaction, this changes from person to person. For me, a red flag is when someone says they have never seen the 2004 SpongeBob SquarePants movie, but that one is obviously just me.
There are some universal red flags. If they repeatedly make jokes at your expense, despite you telling them that you don’t find that funny, that is a red flag. If they do not respect your boundaries and constantly try to force you into situations that you did not consent to, that is a red flag. If they attempt to isolate you from friends and family, claiming your loved ones are being manipulative or toxic without giving proof of their claims, that is a red flag.
Red flags can be things that make you uncomfortable. They can make you feel small, they can make you feel scared. Sometimes they’ll be obvious and your gut will tell you to leave immediately, but not always. Red flags may be more quiet and passive, issues that you feel are small and you’ll need to learn to accept.
Learning to identify and accept red flags is a very important skill for finding a potentially healthy relationship. But, not every problem is necessarily a red flag, it might just be a disagreement.
Another thing to keep in mind when dating is to never enter a relationship with the intention of changing the other person. People can and do change, but it won’t be because you force them to.
If you enter a relationship hoping a person will change something about themselves, stop. Is this something that if they don’t change, you can live with? If not, that person isn’t for you, and it’s best to move on.
Finally, the most important thing when it comes to relationships and dating is communication. I really cannot stress enough how important this is. Communication is the absolute key to any type of relationship with any person, especially romantic.
If you have a problem, talk to the other person. If you feel afraid to talk to them, think about why that may be. Are you worried they won’t listen? Are you concerned about negative backlash? Keep that in mind when considering if this relationship is good for you. But if you feel safe, talk to them. Let them know what is going on.
Relationships are extremely challenging. Even the strongest relationships will have their ups and downs. They take work to keep together. It’s important to know when it’s worth the effort and when it’s time to abandon ship. Even with that in mind, don’t let the fear of heartbreak stop you from trying if that is what you want.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to spend my Valentine’s Day crocheting a sweater and watching SpongeBob by myself. Stupid Cupid can put his arrows away and leave me be.