Relationships and dating


By: Elle Alexander

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Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of guidance regarding dating and/or my future. However, now that I have children of my own, I often think about the things I wish someone would have told me or that I would have listened to more closely. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  1. FINISH YOUR EDUCATION-Sure, it’s nice to look at marriage as a goal, but if it doesn’t work out (and around 50% of them statistically don’t) have a working plan in order to support yourself and possibly your children.
  2. BUDGETING/CREDIT-I see a lot of people trying to keep up with their cohort(s) trying to fit in and/or make a status /name for themselves. This might mean buying name brand purses, clothes, etc. that are way out of your budget. It’s important to make a budget and stick to it so you don’t get behind on bills and end up in debt. Because guess what, when it’s time to get a vehicle, a house, or other things that require a line of credit… you’re going to want to have good credit. Yes, life is hard and things come up. But plan ahead for the unexpected and do it without relying on the help from someone else. Nobody’s saying you should stop buying name brands, but is anyone going to know if they came from the thrift shop or a friend? Absolutely not. Be smart with your money and realistic. If you want more, do more…so you can earn more and have more. Not everyone is willing/able to help you out when you need it, and sometimes that leaves you in a bad position that could have otherwise been avoided.
  3. TRAVEL It’s much easier to travel without children…and more cost effective. So if you have parts of the world you’d like to go see, even a different state, do it while you’re young and make it a point to reward yourself for your hard work and go experience places and cultures you’ve never been a part of. It’s good to have these memories and experiences and after you have children, it becomes a lot harder to travel unless you make good enough money to purchase round trip airfare, hotel accomodations, activities and food for everyone involved. Do it while you’re young and…
  4. TAKE A TON OF PICTURES & JOURNAL Isn’t it nice to look back on things and see them the way they really were? Your mind does funny things to you with age and your ability to recall information sometimes becomes more difficult and things become distorted. Make a photo journal or photo album with captions to remember all the wonderful times you had. You’ll want them later when you thought you forgot about them.
  5. BE CONFIDENT I think more emphasis needs to be placed on teaching people to feel good about themselves and being able to stand up for themselves. It’s okay to say no. Nobody ever tells you that, as you’re often expected to color within the lines all the time and follow all the rules, but it is okay to say no sometimes. Sometimes, it’s necessary to put yourself first and part of that involves being the best you that you can be, prior to entering into a relationship. Nobody can take that away from you unless you allow them to. So be selfish, and do what you want before you enter into a commitment. Do things that make you feel good about who you are and help others do the same.
  6.  BE SELECTIVE Just because someone is attractive doesn’t mean that they’re going to be a good parent to your unborn child. A lot of people don’t think about the possibility of getting pregnant and the long term consequences of that when they’re having sex or in the heat of the moment before hand. Yes, you could end up with dealing with this person for the next 18 years (or longer) if you get pregnant, good or bad. This also includes their family, who let’s hope isn’t crazy or vile. So be selective as to who you give your time and energy to and/or be smart/safe about your choices so you  and/or your future children don’t end up dealing with unfortunate circumstances later down the road. If you think to yourself that you could possibly have a child with this person, would you want to still sleep with them?
  7. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” according to Murphy’s law, right? And perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “When it rains, it pours.”  These are important things to consider. Do you want to be standing in the pouring rain without an umbrella one day or would you like to be prepared for the storm? Get yourself a bank account JUST for emergencies/savings. Have it automatically deducted out of your paycheck so you don’t even “miss” it. If you need more money, work harder. Pursue an education. Figure it out with your time/budget and options by doing your research. The worst thing that can happen to someone at times is not being prepared for unfortunate events that are often costly and occur at the worst possible times. When it happens, accept it, treat it as a goal, look for a solution and figure out how to solve the problem logically. Otherwise, you’re going to be sinking when you could be swimming away.
  8. GET ENOUGH SLEEP Life is hard enough to deal with when you have adequate sleep, let alone when you’re running on “empty.” While we all require different amounts to function, it’s important to have a routine. If you plan ahead and organize your life, it will make getting enough sleep much easier and you’ll thank yourself more the next day for it. Sleep allows the body time to grow, repair and heal itself both physically and mentally. Eight hours are recommended for most people, but usually anything under six is a no go.
  9. STOP MAKING EXCUSES My aunt used to tell me that all our actions have consequences, and that was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I was 12 at the time and didn’t really think too much about it until I realized that consequences can be both good/bad. Nobody makes our choices for us; we select ones based on gut instincts and/or research that lead us to the path we travel in the future. So when you make a decision, make sure it’s one you want. Stop living for other people and blaming things on them. Our choices determine our actions and our actions determine our results. Nobody is at fault for your failures just as nobody can take credit for another’s success…
  10. YOU CANT TRUST EVERYONE I think as young adults, we’d like to believe that everyone is on our side. It’s nice to have friends that want to hang out and do things with us, who are there for us and who listen to us. However, based on bad experiences in my own life and from others, i’ve found that usually the first person to stab you in the back is the one you handed the knife to. Be selective in who you trust and what you tell people. If you don’t want it on the front of a newspaper, don’t tell anyone. Because sometimes, things happen and people end up disliking each other or losing touch. People are selfish creatures and will do what they can for themselves. If you allow them, they’ll sometimes hurt you in the conquest. So be cautious as to who you open up to and what you share or it can often end up backfiring. Not everyone is your “friend.” Be your own best friend if need be. And if you have major things you need to discuss and aren’t sure who you can trust, counseling is a wonderful option and judge free zone.
  11. Be okay with having a dream that’s your dream. You don’t have to align your life and goals with what society believes to be important. Do what is best for you. If you are not hurting anyone or bothering anyone, what’s it matter? You have to live with your choices so make them count. Make sure you love them. It might not happen as quickly as you’d like, but THERE ARE NO DEADLINES ON SUCCESS/DREAMS. 

I know a lot of these sound like common sense but they’re still important. Your thoughts? What would YOU have told your 18 year old self looking back?

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