You've heard of New Year's resolutions, but how about relationship resolutions? The kickoff for 2018 provides a perfect portal to look ahead and decide how you'll live and love differently in the coming days, weeks and months.
For some readers, a relationship resolution might be as simple as getting one — a relationship, that is. For others, maybe it's more about getting some — and hey, that's fine, there's no script or set route all are required to take, societal expectations be damned. Whether you're seeking to settle down or simply have a little fun, there are some basic principles we can all agree on to keep us on the same page in terms of moral decency and respect.
Here are five relationship resolutions from Wayne and Wanda for the year ahead.
1. Unplug from social media so you can tune into your date/significant other/spouse/etc.
This is an interesting one considering how many of us now use social media to meet matches that lead to hookups and hangouts and maybe even more. It feels like not long ago, dating apps were still something of a shameful little secret, with folks bashful about admitting they'd resorted to online-land to find love. Now, it's so commonplace that on any given night at a crowded Anchorage bar or restaurant, you'll see singletons swiping through pages of potential partners.
That's all well and good — until you've got a prospect IRL. Then it's time to put the phone down and focus on the real thing. There's this little thing called active listening, and many relationship experts will posit that it's a foundational element of strong relationships and that fostering it can make any bond stronger. So give it a try: Put down the phone, give your figures a rest, make eye contact with your person, and open your ears.
Did you say something, Wanda? I was just watching the college football playoffs on my cool new iPhone X! Oh, shutting down and tuning in? Yeah, great idea! It's funny that you noticed bar people swiping right and left; I've noticed couples in restaurants spending more time on their phones than with their companion, their server or even their dinner.
As our phones get faster and the distractions increase, it's an amazing feeling to put the phone down, turn the tablet off, pull the earbuds out and just connect – to your breath, your surroundings, your partner. Try doing that every once in a while and you'll find yourself in a more peaceful and present 2018. Namaste.
2. No cheating.
This is pretty self-explanatory and yet, it still happens all the time, and the litany of excuses are frankly exhausting. Philanderers will cite sex addiction, childhood-rooted issues, depression and more – but in the end, cheating is just selfish, and usually, it's because someone wants to have sex with someone who isn't their partner and they think they can get away with it.
If you're truly a stallion who won't be bridled, yet still crave the comfort of a home stable, there's good news: Once-hidden alternative lifestyle options have become a bit more mainstream, and there are options for unconventional arrangements. Read up on polyamory, hunt for a like-minded partner and be honest about your desires. These multiple-partner relationships aren't for everyone, but those who have called such arrangements successful agree that it's – again – about agreeing on the terms and not straying from those. In other words, no cheating.
Ugh – cheaters. They are the worst. Relationships are built on trust and communication; cheaters undermine both with irreparable results. I truly cannot understand what drives people to cheat. Oh, I understand that temptations can arise, but you don't have to and shouldn't act out on them.
So, if you can't stay true to your word, keep your commitment, or control yourself, at least grow a backbone and break up with your partner before cheating. You'll be doing everyone a big favor, including yourself.
3. Don't settle
We all have that friend who, rather than be single, has inexplicably coupled up with some insufferable jerk. It's frustrating, it's puzzling, but at the end of the day, it's also about settling. Too many awesome people lower their standards and forget their own non-negotiables rather than stay solo, and it's unfortunate.
This new year, think about your core values and needs, and take inventory of your relationship or prospects. Are you getting what you want? Are you looking in the right place for it? Are you being honest with yourself about what will make you happy? Because you deserve it.
Yes, Wanda – settling for jerks is a bad thing. But settling for someone who doesn't align with you and your beliefs is just as bad. I mean, we all want to be happy and have a partner who is, well, a true partner. So yes, take Wanda's advice and use the occasion of this New Year's arrival to do a personal inventory on who you are, where you are, where you want to be and who you want to be by your side for the ride. It could mean breaking up with someone or looking for love in the all the right places instead of your usual haunts – dramatic change is tough. Even tougher? Being miserable in your relationship.
4. Ask for what you need.
While relationship resolution number three was about knowing what you want, number four is about standing up and asking for it. This is true in any relationship really; none of us are mind readers, and at the same time, most of us really want to make our partner – or our parents, our friends, our kids and our co-workers – happy. But we can't do that if we don't know what the other person needs. And it's unfair to come to resent others for not meeting our needs if we haven't told them what those are.
So, communicate communicate communicate. Don't play games, or set traps or tests. Just be clear.
How wild would this world be if people just expressed what's on their minds and hearts with the people they care about? Sounds so easy, but sometimes it's the toughest part of communication. Internalizing and stewing seems so much easier than being vulnerable or even mildly confrontational. But once you express yourself and your needs, you'll feel empowered and relieved. You'll also find that it's easier to do moving forward and that your partner and the people in your life will start dropping their walls and feel more comfortable receiving and reciprocating. Now that's a route to a happy new year.
5. Have fun!
Relationships are a lot of work. Arguments and disagreements are unavoidable at times. But we can argue with poise and care; we can disagree with respect and an eye on finding a mutually agreeable compromise; and most of all, we can and should have fun. Life is too short to spend it in a relationship that's unhealthy, dysfunctional or draining. In 2018, invest in relationships that give you a positive return!
What's the point of a relationship if it doesn't make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or feel more confident and understood? Or feel like you've got a true partner in crime/fun times? We all deserve that and we all should not settle for people who don't provide that to us. But remember, it takes two to make a thing go right – if you aren't providing positive energy and happiness to a relationship, check yourself before you wreck yourself … and your relationship.
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.