Love ad­vice I wish would die

When it comes to ro­mance, some­times the best thing to do is… what­ever the hell you want.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - words by Jo Pi­azza

Un­til I reached the age of 34, I valiantly tried to fol­low the re­la­tion­ship and dat­ing ‘rules’ I learnt from mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles, ro­man­tic come­dies and my mar­ried friends. I didn’t mes­sage a guy first; I never slept with any­one too soon; I wore bras and un­der­wear that matched. Where did that get me? I dated all the wrong guys and drank all the wine with all the gay best friends, while I con­stantly beat my­self up for fail­ing in love.

It was only af­ter I started ig­nor­ing ev­ery­one else’s sug­ges­tions that I did fall in love (with a guy so not my type who lives 5 000km away) dur­ing a work trip (taboo) af­ter I slept with him on the first date (dou­ble taboo; a friend warned me I’d never hear from him again). Three years later, we’re hap­pily mar­ried with a baby. I love my love story, and I tell it to show that most re­la­tion­ship ad­vice is for suck­ers. Lis­ten, I’m no ex­pert on mar­riage; I’m just a girl who, on the first date, slept with a boy who hap­pened to be awe­some. But one thing I do know? Clichéd ad­vice has got to go. Specif­i­cally:

“RE­LA­TION­SHIPS ARE HARD WORK”

Re­al­ity check: if a re­la­tion­ship is hard work when you’re dat­ing, when the most im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions you have are about which film to see and where to have din­ner, it’s only go­ing to get harder once life gets real. Right af­ter I got mar­ried, I moved across the coun­try to a city where I had ab­so­lutely no friends, fam­ily or support sys­tem. I cried to my hus­band al­most ev­ery­day about how alone I felt, even though he was right next to me. Then I re­ceived a ter­ri­fy­ing health di­ag­no­sis – learn­ing that I have a gene for mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy, a dis­ease that had just taken my fa­ther’s life. If we hadn’t been able to get through the early, calm times with ease, I don’t know how we would have got­ten through all of that.

“YOU HAVE TO LOVE YOUR­SELF FIRST”

Once, when I was sin­gle, a mar­ried friend told me, “I just don’t think you’re happy; when you are, you’ll at­tract the per­fect per­son.” Um, no. This ad­vice makes women feel like their own worst en­emy – it be­comes too easy to think, ‘ Well, maybe I’ll find some­one af­ter I work out my body is­sues,’ or, ‘Mr Right might come when I feel bet­ter about my job.’ In my 20s, I thought I couldn’t find the right part­ner be­cause I hadn’t got­ten over my own par­ent’s hor­ri­ble mar­riage – one filled with fight­ing and tears. I had a lot of ther­apy, which taught me a lot about my re­la­tion­ship with my par­ents, but it didn’t do any­thing for my dat­ing life. Here’s the truth: no one ever has it all fig­ured out. I still hate the way my butt looks in skinny jeans, I’ll never run a marathon and I don’t en­tirely know what I want to do when I’m a grown-up. None of that makes me any less lov­able now.

“NEVER GOT TO BED AN­GRY”

You know what makes ev­ery­thing bet­ter? Sleep. You know what doesn’t? Fight­ing un­til 4am.

“YOUR PART­NER SHOULD BE YOUR BEST FRIEND”

I’ve heard over 3 400 wed­ding vows that talk about some­one’s part­ner be­ing their best friend, but hold­ing out un­til you find some­one to be your ev­ery­thing isn’t prac­ti­cal or nec­es­sary. Mar­riage to­day, for many of us, is about find­ing some­one who com­ple­ments you rather than com­pletes you. I love my hus­band, but I go to my friends for a heart-to-heart about my ca­reer or af­ter a fight with my mom. And why not? Each month when I was try­ing to get preg­nant and didn’t – and felt hor­ri­ble about it – I called my friends in­stead of talk­ing to my hus­band, who has noth­ing use­ful to say about ovu­la­tion. Some peo­ple are bet­ter at help­ing with cer­tain things than oth­ers. That’s just life.

“IF YOU’RE SIN­GLE, IT’S BE­CAUSE YOUR STAN­DARDS ARE TOO HIGH”

It’s not about your high stan­dards. It’s about what’s right for you. Sure, I could have stuck it out with the ‘pro­fes­sional’ Her­bal­ife rep who lived with his mom and tried to feel me up in a restau­rant on our first date. (As my aunt said to me at the time, “Isn’t ev­ery­one a work in progress?”) But a good part­ner­ship is about real con­nec­tion with a stand-up hu­man. For me, it was worth wait­ing for a guy who makes life bet­ter in a thou­sand small ways.

“WHEN THE RIGHT PER­SON COMES ALONG, YOU’LL JUST KNOW”

My first thought af­ter see­ing my hus­band at a work event was, ‘I can’t be­lieve a grown man would wear Crocs!’ And then, ‘Maybe he should get a hair­cut.’ I didn’t know any­thing – in fact, I only spoke to him be­cause there was no Wi-fi at the event. In hind­sight, you al­ways think you know, but in the mo­ment, ev­ery­one is a lit­tle un­cer­tain. So it’s OK if it doesn’t feel like a bolt of light­ning just hit you. If you wait to know right away, you might be wait­ing for­ever.

The only thing I learnt from all this ad­vice? Peo­ple will bab­ble on. Ig­nore them and date like no­body’s watch­ing.

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