Dating - How To Have More Fun

Sure, relationships take work... but are you toiling too hard? Below, five grueling habits to ditch.

By Laura Gilbert

ith Labor Day here, people all over have been rejoicing about the idea of taking a day off work and relaxing. Well, we propose applying this idea to your love life, too—and dump any dating and relating habits that make love feel like a struggle. Sure, all relationships take work, but it shouldn’t feel like toiling in the coal mines every time you’re together, for goodness’ sake. Here, five emotionally exhausting tasks we give you permission to dump, so you can get more fun in your love life.

Take a break from... “improving” your honey
You’re a gym bunny, he needs to lose ten pounds (okay, 20). You alphabetize everything from your CDs to your spice rack, she’s a super-slob who couldn’t see the floor even after an hour of picking up all those shoes and magazines tossed about. When opposites attract, you can’t assume that your flawed little angel even wants to change. And by trying to convert your sweetie to your viewpoint or lifestyle—well, that’s setting both of you up for a whole lot of mood-killing arguments. Unless your sugar asks for help learning to balance a checkbook or pick out fresh produce, accept that your mate’s way of doing things is — shudder — good enough for your mate.

How to handle it: Remember, you started seeing this person for who he or she was. If his or her habits are driving you up a tree, your decision isn’t how to fix the things you dislike, but whether you want to keep dating. It’s a tough call, but it’s the one you’ve got to make.

Take a break from... immersing yourself in their interests
You two are a romantic match, not study buddies: You don’t have to share every interest and hobby.
It is super-sweet that you learned to scuba dive so you could go on boating expeditions with your pumpkin. It’s admirable that you scour a website on dogs so you could make chitchat about your date’s boxer. But everyone’s got a breaking point, and the honest truth is, it’s OK to hate Radiohead even though your date loves ’em. It’s OK to pass on joining your partner’s book club.

How to handle it: Adopt this perspective: You two are a romantic match, not study buddies, so give each other room to enjoy your respective hobbies, alone, and you’ll avoid clocking tons of hours doing things you just don’t like doing—and getting pretty resentful to boot.

Take a break from... mapping out the “Where are we going?” love chart
Finding out that you’ve been promoted to “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend” or that your sweetie could envision having kids with you are important milestones in a relationship. But checking every five seconds to see if “you still like me” or always asking about long-term plans doesn’t guarantee a wedding’s on its way. In fact, that kind of constant status report actually shows an insecurity that may wind up destroying what’s otherwise a great bond.

How to handle it: So stop asking your cutie how they “feel about things” and focus on how you do — and if you’re having fun, sit back and enjoy it. This is what you’ve been waiting for!

Take a break from... trying to get along with all of their family or friends
By now we’ve all realized that, for bad or good, every person comes with a posse. Yes, you want to get in good with your sweetie’s inner circle, but that doesn’t mean you have to charm and win over every single acquaintance of his or hers. So feel free to “have other plans” when your his college roommate comes into town for a wild ‘n crazy night or to politely excuse yourself for the bathroom when her great-great aunt goes on and on about her hemorrhoids.

How to handle it: Your time is much better spent schmoozing the people who matter most to your date — like parents, siblings, or best friends — and hanging with the people in his or her inner circle that you genuinely like.

Take a break from... overanalyzing every little thing
There are Big Issues that need to be worked through: Fear of commitment, lack of trust,
There are little issues we turn into big issues, often with bad results…
concerns about how much time you’re spending together. Then, there are little issues that we turn into Big Issues by reading into them, often with bad results. Did her last email to you seem curt, and not even address the two paragraphs you wrote about how you’re falling for her? Or have you ever enlisted a pal to help you dissect the tone and word choice of a voicemail message your sweetie left you saying he can’t make it to happy hour?

How to handle it: Don’t kill yourself trying to analyze whether your relationship’s on the rocks; maybe your partner’s just busy at work and would love nothing better than to spend time lavishing attention on you. Look at the big-picture pattern. If this is a person who is dependable most of the time, but now and then is late or has to blow things off for work, so be it. If this is a person who blows you off on the night of your best friend’s surprise party that you planned for months, or can’t come see your team compete in the finals of your after-work soccer league, um, you probably don’t need us to tell you that there are bigger issues at work here. Don’t sweat the little stuff; do tackle the big relationship flubs.

In her last relationship, New York City freelance writer Laura Gilbert had to agree to disagree about Radiohead.
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