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Speaking of…

Dating and stuff.

Seems to be my thing right now 😉

I hear so often from people that certain couples, “Aren’t good together.”

“She doesn’t even know him.”

“I don’t like how he treats her.”

“What does she see in him, anyway?”

Oh hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m a culprit here, too. I have my critiques of certain pairings. But I’ve had a few directed at myself in my day and it’s seriously changing how I view other people’s relationships.

Like…When I dated my high school boyfriend.
Oh I know. You can feel the drama coming.
His friends loved me. But his parents didn’t.
Ya, major yikes.
That was tough. And awkward. And damaging to my self-esteem.
You get it.

Then, when I started dating Justin, most of his friends liked me. But I wasn’t always sure about all of them.
Just twist that knife a little further, why dontcha?

Talk about confusing. I won’t go into detail because some things are better kept off the Internet 😉 but while I was dating, I found my circle of influence colliding with someone else’s in a very unique way. I expected to be received with open arms. When you’re dating someone, it’s typical to want to impress the fam and friends. But when I hit some, uh, speed bumps, it kinda tore me up.

My inner dialogue was something like this:
“Wait, they don’t like me? I’m not likable? Why? It has to be something I did. I have to be more careful! I can’t believe I messed this up. How can I fix this? Or can I?”

And so on and so forth.

I’ve learned something from these experiences though.

News flash: Not everyone is going to like me.
And not everyone is going to like me with my boyfriend (uh, once you’re married it doesn’t really matter what the critics think ;))

So. Here’s what I’m still learning:

1. Friends and family are important. Their opinions are valuable and should be heard. But if you’re a grown adult, it’s time to start making independent decisions. So your parents think you’re boyfriend’s too goofy? That he’s not taking himself seriously?
If you really like this guy and know that he takes you and your potential future together seriously despite the silliness, it may be time to thank them for their input and then end the conversation. Your friends think your man works too much? That’s nice. But does it bother you?

Anyone you date will always be too something for someone. Whether it’s your mom, BFF, coworker, lab partner, etc who brings up what’s wrong with your main squeeze, be secure in your decision and your feelings for him.
However. If someone brings up an issue of past or current violent, manipulative or abusive behaviors – listen carefully and reevaluate.

2. People tend to be critical when they’re envious. I’ve heard women criticize their friends for dating guys who were too wealthy, romantic, God-fearing…

Gah, I knew a girl whose mother confronted her because her boyfriend spent too much time at church!

If a complaint seems like jealousy, it might be. Your friend may be doing just that. Complaining. Because her man doesn’t make a lot of money, doesn’t pick wild flowers for them (yep, I know a guy who does that for his wife), doesn’t go to church with them.
Remember, these complaints she’s making against your significant other may actually be about the things she wishes for in their own men.
If a close friend is doing this, talk to her about it.
If its not a close friend, consider making your dating life off-limits to the complainer. If you don’t bring it up, but she does – you don’t have to go into detail when talking with her. So don’t! Hopefully, starving off her knowledge of your personal life will give her less to be green over.

3. There is a chance the critic has a point.
This is the hardest thing to accept. As discussed in the last post, I don’t think dating is just for funsies. So, when someone points out an honest fault in your boyfriend, it hurts.

I remember really liking this guy once upon a time, but it just wasn’t working. I was talking to a mentor about it and she asked if I knew the guy I was kinda “with” but also kinda “not with” was already seeing another girl. And, in fact, they were going out with some other students she knew that weekend. And I needed to let it go, because they’d been talking for a while.
Talk about ouch. I didn’t need any more time to think about things after that. I was done. And I’m so glad she told me.
Even though it hurt.

If a guy is dragging you down through his hurtful words, physical abuse, threats, illegal behavior, dishonesty…and a friend brings it to your attention, then you owe it to yourself to listen.

4. If you’re playing the role of the critic – and this applies to me, too – back off! So you don’t like the guy because of something he did way back when. But he treats your friend like a princess. And has been better since he started dating her…maybe she’s rubbing off on him. Or you’re jealous because your man doesn’t visit you at work. Talk to him about it. Or you wish your boyfriend could afford to take you to that One Republic concert…or because you wish you had a boyfriend…you get the point.

It’s human to want things other people have. But it’s also destructive. Especially to your own happiness. If your critiques do come down to greenness, consider being real about it. Talk to your dating friend about how you feel. That maybe you shouldn’t talk about all the awesomeness in her love life right now because it’s hard for you to really be genuinely happy for her. And that’s ok. As long as you’re telling her so in love and with an apology. Don’t damage your friendship because of your envy.

Bottom line – no one wants to be criticized. And no one wants to be judged. So be aware of your relationship. Was what your friend said last week about your guy honest? Is it something you need to address? Was your dad just being protective, or is the way your boyfriend treats you a problem? And, are you acting out of jealousy when you complain about your friend’s relationship?

And ladies, about your man’s guy-friends – hopefully they are respectful and supportive and care for you.
But in case they don’t.
Guy-friends might be jealous of all the attention you get from your man. Or, they might even be jealous that he asked you out first! 😉
So if they don’t seem to like you, ask yourself:
“Are they single?” This will help you know more about their relational capacity. Relationships take up lots of time and attention and so on. If they are single, they may not understand why you’re hogging all of their friend’s resources.
“Do they really care about my man?” If they do, they will adjust if they see he’s happy with you and serious about you.
“Have I done something to offend them?” Don’t over-analysis this one. But if you have a nagging feeling that you’ve done something to wrong them, talk to your guy about it and fix it. Problem solved 😉

Off the soap box now. Relationships can be complicated. But they’re so worth it.

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