The only serious relationship my boyfriend has had is the one him and I are in. As a dating author, you’d think a relationship newbie would be a red flag or something I wouldn’t have the patience for. But that’s where you’re wrong.
Even though my boyfriend’s love history is non-existent, that didn’t shake me. I’ve dated people with lengthy romantic pasts, yet they had the emotional availability of a teaspoon. Relationship experience doesn’t correlate with someone being a great partner (my boyfriend proved that).
Let that give you some hope as you venture into your first serious relationship.
Instead of getting caught up in not having a romantic past, focus on everything you do have to offer. Your mindset is going to matter a lot. Not having relationship experience doesn’t put you in a worse position than the people from your high school who were coupling up as early as fourteen.
The mere fact you’re reading this article is a sign you want to put your best foot forward, which puts you leagues ahead most people you’ll find on dating apps. Again, let that give you hope.
Everyone could use a crash course on relationships, first one or not. These tips will not only ease you into the world of serious relationships, but they’ll help you avoid mistakes that so many people make.
1. Make sure you’re dating for the right reasons.
In no way, shape, or form should you get into a relationship because it’s what everyone else is doing. No set law says people should be in a relationship by a certain age. Plus, getting into one because you feel pressured could mean you get into a lackluster or, worse, toxic relationship.
In that case, you’re better off being single.
If you’re happy with your life and want to share it with another person, then you’re looking for love for the right reasons. Your intentions will matter a lot for your first relationship so make sure you have good ones.
2. Realize that you’ve had other relationships
While you might feel like a relationship virgin, that’s not at all the case. You’ve had relationships before; think about your family, co-workers, and friends. Those people are still relationships, even if they’re platonic. You’ve learned plenty from them, even if you weren’t aware of it.
Reflect on those relationships and what kind of effort they needed to thrive. Patience? Communication? Radical honesty? Think about what you did and didn’t like in them. Then, apply what you learn to your romantic relationship and stop thinking you’re coming to the table with zero experience.
3. Lower your expectations significantly for your first serious relationship
Expectations ruin many romantic relationships because they’re either unrealistic or never spoken about to the other person. Don’t let your relationship be one of those. I’m not trying to extinguish any excitement you have but I don’t want you to run into the pitfall of assuming your partner will act like couples on TV or send romantic texts like you saw in a TikTok video.
Every relationship is unique. Rather than thinking yours should follow a particular timeline or that you need to act in specific ways, experience things as they come. Do what feels natural. And, for the love of well, love, let your partner surprise you instead of putting them into a box.
4. Communication and compromise will be your go-to tools
Most couples shoot themselves in the foot by not communicating. They let their anger, resentment, and disappointment fester until the space between them can’t be fixed. Let’s not have that be you.
Be open and honest about what you’re thinking, even if it feels a bit weird at first. Doing so will set a solid foundation for your first serious relationship. That will also let your partner know they can openly communicate with you.
You’ll sometimes disagree (which isn’t a bad thing!), and it’ll feel like your partner wants something entirely different from you. That’s when you’ll need another essential tool: compromise. It involves coming to a solution that meets in the middle of what you and your partner want. That way, you both feel heard, respected, and like you’re getting your way (to an extent).
5. Take things as slowly as you need. It’s your first serious relationship after all
Uncertainty is scary, even more so when it comes to feelings and potential love. You have every right to want to take things slowly so you can feel like you’re comfortable with things instead of jumping in feet first. That could include when you make things official or at what point they start sleeping over at your place. Just make sure to communicate this to the person you’re dating.
Also, take things at a slow pace when it comes to what you share. You don’t need to divulge all your weaknesses and sad stories right from the get-go. Get to know the other person, allow the trust to build, and share when you feel comfortable.
6. Know that no one has everything figured out
My last piece of sage advice is this: we’re all still figuring out what the heck we’re doing. No, really. Every relationship involves learning about the other person and any challenges that come with that. The person you’re dating might have a relationship history, but they’ve never dated you (not that you’re a challenge, but you’re a new person who won’t be like their exes).
Instead of seeing yourself at a disadvantage, think of your fresh eyes as an advantage. You’ll be able to learn how to uniquely love the person in front of you without past relationship baggage in the way. And, whenever you feel nervous and uncertain, know that your partner does, too.