When I was younger, I was as wild as they come. I found the process of growing up exhilarating, what with all the opportunities I had to explore some of the theories I’d read about and watched on screen and eavesdropped on adult conversations. I wasn’t inclined to listen to anybody or their advice, let alone my mom’s. Especially not on topics concerning love and sex and romance. I had this notion that she just wanted to ruin my explorations with her overprotection and helicopter routine.
However, as I’ve grown up and become my own person – with obvious help from my mom, that has gone mostly unacknowledged – I’ve come to recognize how right she was on most things. Whether it was things about love, or romance, or the kind of person you want in your life, she was right.
If you, unlike me, want to be smarter about all things love, then read my guide on what my mom taught me about love.
1. ‘If he doesn’t respect you, he isn’t worth it.’
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If you think about it, this is seems so simple, but is very important when it comes to the survival of a relationship. He may claim to love you, may even worship the very ground you walk on. But if he doesn’t respect you as a person, an individual, then he just isn’t worth it.
2. ‘He is a man, treat him like one.’
Most women, me included, try to make up excuses for their boyfriend’s bad/rude behavior, their wrong decisions, as if they didn’t know what they were doing. Treat him like the man, the grown up, the adult that he is, and not like a child. In essence, treat him like an equal.
3. ‘He might not be like his friends, but he chose to associate with them.’
Friends are like the family that you get to pick and choose. So if your boyfriend chooses to hang out with – for lack of a better word, douchebags – then he is too, in some degree or other. He may not be a douchebag in front of you, but he most definitely is, in some capacity or other. So be very wary of trusting him or his friends.
4. ‘Always be financially independent.’
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Whether you earn a five-figure income or a six-figure one, you must always pay your own bills. For a fiercely independent woman like my mom, she dreaded the idea of being financially dependent on a man. She was of the idea that paying my own bills, working my own way through the world would help me see the world clearly, and also be in a relationship because I want to be in it, rather than sticking with any man who happens to support me financially.
Suggested read: 10 amazing tips to build a long lasting relationship
5. ‘If he doesn’t respect women in general, then he won’t respect you either.’
It doesn’t have to be women he knows like his mother, sisters, friends, or colleagues. If he shows disdain to other women, disparages their achievements, makes sexist/misogynist comments about them, then he won’t respect you either, however much he might say he does.
Another point to note is that if he doesn’t respect his own mother (except in very rare cases where he had an awful mother), then he won’t respect and treat his girlfriend/wife nicely either.
6. ‘Make sure you know what your negotiables and non-negotiables are.’
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Everyone has their own set limits of what is okay and what is not okay, what they are willing to forgive and forget about, and what they’re not. So you need to know what mistakes/errors in judgment you are able to forgive and forget – maybe not instantly, but over time – and what are an absolute no-no. If you know these limits, then you can choose to break off the relationship if you’re unable to deal with it, rather than making both your lives miserable.
7. ‘A relationship is never perfect, so it’s better to know what your expectations are.’
Nobody is perfect, and no relationship is perfect. But, if you know that two flawed individuals can create something flawed, but fall in love with those flaws over time, then you’re set. However, if you’re expecting perfection, lovey-dovey mush all day, every day, then you’re in for a rude shock. So it’s better to know what you are willing to overlook in someone and settle for them, and what you’re not.
8. ‘A man’s presence in your life doesn’t solve your problems.’
You might be afraid to be single, or you might be looking for someone to fill the void in your life. However, having a man in your life won’t magically solve these problems. My mom always said that you should be be with someone only if you really, truly want to be with them, and nothing else.
9. ‘Never let a fight or an issue unresolved.’
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You might have read that you should never go to bed angry, but my mom said if you can’t come to a resolution now – due to anger, resentment or disappointment – come back to it when your head is clearer and you are calm. But the important thing is to actually come back to the same issue and arrive at a resolution that you both can live with.
Another point to note is that you shouldn’t bring up past transgressions either. It never pays to keep scratching at old wounds. You’re just not giving the wound enough time to dry, scab over, and fade.
10. ‘Never hold sex as leverage in your relationship.’
This is one of the most important things about love that my mom has ever imparted to me. I’ve always watched movies where one partner holds sex as leverage to get their way in the relationship, and thought nothing of it. But this, coming from a fiercely independent, yet quite a tacit woman, left me stunned. Then I realized how right she was. The physical aspect of a relationship is as important as the emotional part, if not more. And if one of you holds physical intimacy and sex hostage every time you don’t get your way, then you both start attaching sex with negative connotations. And the next time one of you initiates anything even remotely sexual, then your mind will automatically start making assumptions about what the other person might want from you. Is this the way a healthy, stable, and happy relationship is built? I think not.
These are the precious things about love that my mom taught me, and I’m better for it. If you don’t want to be in the same boat as me, then you’d better keep these close to your heart.
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