Falling in love and getting into a relationship can be one of the most rewarding feelings in life. You have the opportunity to make precious, life-long memories with someone important to you.
Maybe you’re looking for that someone special, or maybe you already have someone in mind. Either way, getting into your first serious relationship can be both daunting and exciting. With this in mind, we’ve curated a list of five tips to consider before taking the leap into love.
Opposites might attract, but don’t make the best partners in the long-term
You might have heard about the saying “opposites attract,” and while it might be very exciting to date someone that has different interests or personality than your own, it might not be the best decision for you in the long-run.
Kristen Yax, an Instructor of Psychology at Oregon State University, said she recommends people thinking about getting in their first relationship should look for a partner with similar interests and values.
“While we like to think that opposites attract (differences might always be fun and exciting in the beginning of a new relationship), research shows that similarities and sharing common values and interests predicts more satisfying, long-term relationships,” Dr. Yax said via email.
Do not spend 24/7 with your significant other
Dr. Yax said a common issue she has witnessed in college romantic relationships is that some couples communicate and spend too much time around each other, which does not allow them to maintain a sense of self.
“A common issue I have witnessed is the need to communicate or be around each other 24/7. Given the access we have via technology, many couples develop unrealistic expectations about how often they should communicate, whether in person or via mobile devices,” Dr.Yax said via email.
”It is important for each partner to maintain some sense of identity and individuality outside of the relationship, whereby they have their own hobbies, interests and friends. My recommendation is to always be open and honest about expectations, and set boundaries about communication early on so both partners are on the same page."
No one is a bad kisser, you just need practice
Katelin Vandehey, a third- year Civil Engineering student at OSU, said she wishes she knew that everyone’s first kiss sucks.
“I was so scared leading up to it that I constantly pushed off obvious moves. It’s one of those things that you’ll get better at it and it’s okay,” Vandehey said.
Go on casual dates to learn what you like and don’t like
Vandehey said she went through a phase where she went on several dates using dating apps, and this helped her to learn more about herself and the things she likes in a partner.
“I went through my phase of hitting up many different dating apps and I met a lot of different people which was exciting and it helps you come up with even more date ideas,” Vandehey said via email. “Find your common interests and don’t be scared to try something they enjoy. I have an incredible fear of heights but I sucked it up and my boyfriend took me skiing last winter and now I love it.”
Vandehey also said it’s important to have icebreakers ready to start up conversation. Asking about their favorite sports or movies is a great place to begin.
Ignore the peer pressure to be in a relationship and do what is best for you
Abby Aof, graduate student in Computer Science at OSU, said she got into her first relationship when she was 19-years-old.
“I had my first romantic relationship when I was 19, very late compared to my fellow friends since I was busy trying to be admitted to a university with a full or partial funded fellowship,” Aof said via email. “My partner was in his 30's, kind, caring, educated, and supportive. He was not my sugar daddy, but he was definitely the grown man who falls in love with a teenager (or at least that’s how he looked at me).”
Aof said her partner sent her red roses and “good morning texts,” but regardless of all the romantic affection he showed her, he did not show interest in taking the relationship more seriously, and eventually they broke up.
“My advice to others is to take the time to choose carefully and [do not] rush getting into a relationship just because others are. I believe most (if not all) people are good, but we need to choose the ones who are good for us. The ones who support and truly care for us. The ones that we can be vulnerable with,” Aof said via email. “Because it was my first relationship I learned my self worth and weaknesses which made me stronger and more confident now.”
In every first relationship, there will be good and bad things. Learn as much as you can from your experiences, and do not be afraid to be vulnerable and make memories. It will be okay, this is just your first relationship and should be a fun learning experience.