Written by Writer’s Corps member Amanda Phillips
It’s New Year’s resolution season and the phrase “new year, new me” is on the brain. And in the spirit of self- and life-improvement, I’ve got some ideas for dating resolutions that will make your relationships this year the healthiest yet. Of course, there are things we need to leave behind (like ghosting!), and there are also things we can learn to embrace, like that we all deserve healthy relationships.
Here are eight things we can do to make dating this year better for everyone.
1. Thou shalt not ghost (or zombie).
When it comes to relationships some things aren’t as bae-sic as they seem. Don’t miss the signs that someone is ghosting you. Check out more of our #ThatsNotLove content here.
In case you are #blessed enough to not have been ghosted, it’s when someone you’ve been talking to completely stops responding to texts (slash any kind of communication) out of nowhere and with no explanation. Then there’s zombieing, which is where someone “comes back from the dead” and wants to reconnect after they’ve ghosted you. These days, we even have “Caspering,” which is when someone ghosts you but still watches your entire Snapchat or IG story. What a time to be alive, right?
People ghost for all sorts of reasons, the main one perhaps being that they don’t know how to say, “I’m just not interested.” Whether that’s necessary if things fizzle after just one date is up for debate, but if it’s someone you’ve been dating for a while, it’s a no-brainer that it’s kinder to not leave them hanging.
When you know better, you do better. Send that text, even if it’s uncomfortable, and give someone the gift of clarity instead of sending them into the “what did I do wrong?” spiral.
2. Thou shalt not breadcrumbs.
The newest dreaded dating habit is breadcrumbing. Urban Dictionary defines breadcrumbing as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (i.e. “breadcrumbs”) in order to lure a partner without expending much effort.”
In other words, it’s a way to keep someone on the hook. The mark of a breadcrumb, according to Cosmopolitan, is to text, like, or DM “just frequently enough so you don’t lose interest, but not too much so the relationship actually moves forward.”
Upon second glance, breadcrumbing can be a form of manipulation; it’s someone’s way of trying to influence your actions or emotions according to their own needs, and just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay to do (or tolerate). Instead, as soon as you know something won’t work, tell the other person that instead of keeping them in relationship purgatory.
3. Thou shalt not expect perfection (from your partner or yourself).
Is your fantasy relationship keeping you from finding real love?
Tall (but not too tall). Always surprises you with the best date night ideas. Never argues with you about anything. We have got to give up the idea that someone needs to check off every box on the “looking for” list. Sure, there are some things that may be non-negotiable for you, but don’t let it get to the point where you’re locked on finding the “perfect person”—because nobody’s perfect, including you.
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Instead, as you get further into dating someone, it’s crucial to establish boundaries and good communication so that when (not if) mistakes are made and conflict happens, you’ll be able to handle it in a healthy way. You’re going to mess up every now and then, so build a resolution system early. A healthy relationship is a safe place to voice concerns and feelings, work through them, and grow together—rather than holding mess-ups against each other and building resentment.
4. Thou Shalt Not Be Possessive
Do you have a constant urge to check your partner’s phone? Or do you get jealous when they hang out with friends? We all experience emotions like jealousy — but it’s important to deal with it in a healthy way Try to dig into why you’re feeling jealous, and take steps to keep it from turning into a total need for control. It could be that you have some personal insecurities to work out. It may also be a simple sign that a discussion needs to happen or some boundaries need to be expressed, or it could mean that the relationship has an unhealthy foundation.
RELATED: Unhealthy Relationship Behaviors Series: Jealousy
5. Thou shalt leave intensity and volatility in 2019.
Intensity and volatility are two major signs of an unhealthy relationship, and if caught early on, they can be worked through. If left unchecked, though, they can lead to some serious relationship offenses, and we do not need any more of that in the new year.
Being in a volatile relationship feels like a constant need to walk on eggshells to keep a partner from overreacting through mood swings or becoming angry to the point of being violent. Volatility can also simply be frequent ups and downs in a relationship. Intensity also includes overreactions but is centered around things that feel like too much (like rushing the pace of a relationship, a partner always wanting to be together or know where you are at all times). Again—if you know what to look for early, these behaviors can be nipped in the bud—but they can also get really unhealthy really quickly, in which case we say, “thank u, next!”
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6. Thou shalt not ignore red flags.
Red flags are often hard to catch at first, but there are effective strategies that’ll help you out. Try keeping a journal to check if certain behaviors are patterns or just a one-time thing. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to recognize bad behavior that could actually be accumulating into unhealthy patterns. Need some extra back-up? Take it to the group text! Sometimes we just need perspective, and there’s nothing like running things by your most trusted friends who will be honest with you.
RELATED: 5 Sneaky Behaviors That Are Actually Unhealthy
7. Thou shalt know what you deserve.
Or as Drake says, “Know yourself; know your worth.” We all deserve healthy relationships that make us feel empowered and supported. Some key components of healthy love? A partner who communicates well with you (and vice versa), a foundation of mutual respect, trust, compassion, and healthy boundaries, to name a few.
Remember, healthy does not equal perfect. But you deserve a relationship that’s a safe space for bringing up whatever tension, dreams, conflicts, feelings (good or bad!) that come up for you. It’s not too much to ask for.
8. Thou shalt always trust thy gut.
If something feels off to you, it probably is! You know yourself better than anyone, so pay attention to feelings that come up for you in all stages of a relationship. Things like overthinking and “should”-ing may simply be a cue to slow down, fit in some self-care, or talk to a trusted friend or directly to your partner. The important thing here is to know that gut feelings are never something you should ignore. They could also be giving you clues of things like gaslighting or other forms of manipulation and emotional abuse.
RELATED: The hidden abuse that can hurt your mental health: Gaslighting
Say it with me: We are asking for the healthy things we know we deserve this year! There are so many unhealthy habits in the dating world right now, but let’s all resolve to stop doing them so that we can all #LoveBetter!