relationship do's and dont's
May 26, 2005 4:40 PM   Subscribe

what 'rules' do you have for relationships as well as personal rules for when youre in a relationship?

some ive come up with so far are

- you need to be just as content when alone as when with your partner otherwise it may not be healthy
- dont take your partner for granted / dont 'let yourself go'
- communication!
- dont pressure your partner into having sex when they dont want to
- dont use harsh words if arguing; its only a substitute for having to really communicate
- in a relationship there are no crises. you should both be willing to take the time to work things out thoughtfully

you can throw in more pointers, links, or essays, whatevs. but NO SARCASM. ok, sarcasm.
posted by GleepGlop to Human Relations (51 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
you need to be just as content when alone as when with your partner otherwise it may not be healthy

I don't know if I'm missing what you mean here, but what's the point of a relationship if it doesn't make you happier when you are a part of it?

To answer the question: I make a concerted effort to avoid personal insults in arguments. Attack the behavior or whatever that's bothering you, sure, but don't attack your partner by calling him a dumbass because he's made you angry.
posted by chiababe at 5:03 PM on May 26, 2005

- don't fuck someone you work with
posted by cmonkey at 5:03 PM on May 26, 2005

Don't use sex as a weapon, or to control the other party.
posted by gaspode at 5:05 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: you need to be just as content...

at the very least, i mean that if you dont know what to do with yourself when you arent with your partner, it isnt healthy
posted by GleepGlop at 5:06 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: - dont be passive aggressive / dont hide things
posted by GleepGlop at 5:10 PM on May 26, 2005

We have a "two week rule", where no one can bring up anything in an argument that happened more than two weeks ago. It helps keeping small arguments from getting stoked by old sore points.
posted by phatboy at 5:11 PM on May 26, 2005

Best answer: Mine vary from yours, but they're something like:

* All parties are better off with the relationship than out of the relationship
* Never go to sleep angry -- even if you're up two days in a row crying. (I'd rather have a tired fight than lingering, low-level resentment.)
* Never give up something fundamental to who you want to be.
* Common interests that have nothing to do with sex, relationships or day-to-day life are critical.
* There's no score card. No tally sheet. It doesn't matter whether I've done 7 nice things and he's done 2 nice things. As long as we're both trying to be nice to each other. If you start counting, it takes away the niceness of the gestures.
* Treat his family and friends like your family and friends -- with respect, cutting them slack -- but realize they're still his and always stay at an adequate distance
* Ask for what you want/need, but don't expect to get it just because you asked
* Once you imagine you're gone, you're gone.
* Do your best to always treat everyone like you want to be treated, never an eye for an eye
* Do everything out of love and a sense of giving, not in the hopes of "banking" favors, earning something or getting something in return
* Your partner expects/wants you to have friends, family and fun besides him or else he's evil.
* He likes who you are and the person you want to be, not your potential to become something he wants in the perfect girl
* Emotional compatibility is nothing without intellectual and sexual compatibility. And vice versa.
* If you're exclusive and you've been going out more than a month -- If you're in the same city, sex at least once a week. Long distance? At least once every six weeks.
posted by Gucky at 5:14 PM on May 26, 2005 [3 favorites]

Don't rely on knowing (and milking) every single stinking detail and nuance of their life and daily goings on as a reassurance and measurement of how well you know the person and what they're thinking.

That's not meant to come across bitter, I've just met a lot of people who seem to feel this way.
posted by mrs.pants at 5:16 PM on May 26, 2005

Don't talk behind your partner's back. If you're unhappy about something, talk to him or her about it, and if seriously unhappy, take it to a counsellor. And stay focused on solving the problem instead of just emoting.
posted by orange swan at 5:35 PM on May 26, 2005 [2 favorites]

cmonkey; I think what you meant to say was "Don't shit where you eat".
posted by helvetica at 5:37 PM on May 26, 2005

* Once you imagine you're gone, you're gone.

Gucky, could you explain this one a little more?
posted by jaysus chris at 5:47 PM on May 26, 2005

helvetica - cmonkey's was right on point.

"Don't shit where you eat" has never struck me as having much applicability to sex. I try to keep the two separate. But maybe that's just me.
posted by yclipse at 5:56 PM on May 26, 2005

* Once you imagine you're gone, you're gone.

Oh. The "maybe we should break up" fixation. If you're thinking about what it would like to be single, how you could find an exit, etc. more than a fleeting thought, then it's already over. Stop fooling yourself.

And if you break up in a serious way, not in the heat of the moment but in a "I really want out", it's over. Reconcilliations just drag out the pain.

But that's my rule for me in relationships. I think it applies to my brain and my relationship style more than everyone in the universe.
posted by Gucky at 5:59 PM on May 26, 2005

Rule # 1, no making rules for the other person, only self.
The reason for myself only is it works the other person into the #1 spot in the relationship. Plus, I’ve had a mother.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: 'once you imagine youre gone, youre gone'

thats an interesting topic. ive experienced that once myself. i dont know much about it as a widespread phenomenon though
posted by GleepGlop at 6:20 PM on May 26, 2005

Never, never fake anything. Honesty is always a better alternative.
posted by Alison at 6:30 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: - trust!
- dont ask about their previous relationships if you are the jealous type
posted by GleepGlop at 6:35 PM on May 26, 2005

Never say never, never say always. Rules are meant to be broken, even in a relationship. Trust and love, mostly trust, and you won't worry about the rules.

"Never go to sleep angry" someone said. I am not sure that it is always possible to work everything out in the short term, or even that it pays to settle all debts. Sometimes someone just does something they shouldn't and you need to forget it for the good of the relationship. Of course, you can't do this every day or their will be trouble. My point is, sometimes you can cause more trouble trying to settle something minor than just forgetting it. Agreeing to disagree is akin. For all of this, you need trust. So if you are the one who didn't apologize, you had better have apologized most of the time.
posted by caddis at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2005

Never say anything about them to someone else that you wouldn't/haven't said to their face. That goes for friendships too.
posted by cali at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2005

I'll suggest just one, but follow it absolutely:

Never, never, never express contempt for your partner (or his/her taste, actions, or family) no matter how severe the argument, or how badly you feel you've been wronged.

For those psychologists that study relationships, expressions of contempt are absolutely the most reliable predictor of which relationships will last, and which are doomed to fail.
posted by curtm at 7:16 PM on May 26, 2005

Bondage, spanking, and nipple torture are fine on the first date, but no genital-to-genital contact or exchange of fluids.

Safe words are a must.

Know your partner's hard limits.

Pay attention to your partners intake of meds, food, and fluids and how variations there in affect their energy levels and moods.

Sorry. My relationships are perhaps a bit different from the norm.
posted by Clay201 at 7:18 PM on May 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Never ask about the other person's romantic past. Avoid hooking up with people who are mean to waiters and the like, because that is how they will treat you in a few months. Trust. Remember that nothing you say can ever be taken back.

On preview: Clay201 reminds me of what a boring fuck I am. Nevermind.
posted by LarryC at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2005

In regards to flirting and the slippery slope into the various definitions of cheating - never do anything without them that you wouldn't do if they were there.
posted by ferociouskitty at 7:23 PM on May 26, 2005

Clay201, Montgomery AL just got a bit more interesting.
posted by matildaben at 7:27 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: interesting, curtm, got any links to back that up?
posted by GleepGlop at 7:36 PM on May 26, 2005

Don't play the black Gibson Acoustic or my pedal steel. The other eight or so guitars are fine.

Feel free to use my computer and even my account, but don't go rooting around and don't read my email.

Also, no cheatin', no dyin', and no epileptic siezin'.

Please correct my grammar, spelling, and punctuation at all times.
posted by stet at 7:49 PM on May 26, 2005

Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation at all times. No exceptions. Be receptive to correction.
(By the way, stet, that's seizin', not siezin'.)

Really, though, that "be receptive to correction" applies to anything. Be receptive to "hey honey I wish you wouldn't put the toilet paper on that way," and be able to give gentle constructive criticism as well.
That's hard.
posted by librarina at 7:55 PM on May 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

*makes out with librarina*
posted by stet at 7:56 PM on May 26, 2005

interesting, curtm, got any links to back that up?

Read Gladwell's latest, Blink. There's a guy named John Gottman who has been doing research on relationships for the last few decades and he can now predict with a high degree of certainty which relationships will fail and which will succeed based on such things as mannerisms and tone. He was recently featured on NPR as well.
posted by kindall at 9:28 PM on May 26, 2005

As far as relationships go: one of my rules is don't expect to be able to change them -- but don't expect them not to change, either.
posted by kindall at 9:29 PM on May 26, 2005

No hitting. No exceptions. No second chances. No. Hitting.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:38 PM on May 26, 2005


Here's a link about the corrosive role of contempt in relationships (thanks, Google !)

"Contempt is the sulphuric acid of love."
posted by curtm at 9:53 PM on May 26, 2005

Don't pretend to be something you're not.

Once you decide you want out, get out. It doesn't do anyone any good to postpone a breakup.

Zero tolerance for cheating and hitting.

If you're mad or upset, SAY SOMETHING. No pouting or "Nothing, I'm fine".


Be appreciative for the little things.

Surprise your SO every now and then - it doesn't have to be big, but it should be unexpected. For example, leave a note in their bag or wallet where they will find it later or do the dishes when it wasn't your turn.

Don't get so focused on the little annoyances that you fail to see the whole lovable package.
posted by geeky at 9:58 PM on May 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Once you imagine you're gone, you're gone.
That could go down as a great quote for the ages.
posted by Tubes at 10:18 PM on May 26, 2005

Keep clear accounts in all things.
posted by TimothyMason at 4:20 AM on May 27, 2005

I agree with thomcatspike, and we've never made any rules in our relationship, with possibly one exception; once it became clear we were a serious thing (15 years ago!), I told him that I wasn't interested in a long-term relationship that wasn't monogamous, and that if he didn't think that he could live with that happily then maybe we should back off on the "serious".

However, these are the things that it turns out we don't do: We don't say seriously hurtful things if we fight; we don't nag; we aren't jealous/clingy; we don't keep score.

And here are the things we do: We keep each other's spirits up, even when things are difficult; we share everything; we are kind to each other; we talk and laugh a lot; we let each other slide, even if maybe we shouldn't; we don't freak out about money; we say "I love you" at least once a day - not an agreement, it just turned out that way.

For us, this loose style happens to be the best thing... Maybe we would be more efficient/make more money/be tidier/etc., if we were more into keeping each other on our toes, but we like the laid-back thingy. Also, even though you will never find one piece of advice about relationships that doesn't say you should talk about your relationship, we don't. It's just not something that comes naturally, and it would be kind of weird/boring. If anything is important, though, we will say "seriously, don't do X - it makes me crazy".

So, having said that we don't have rules, I will admit that because we are accustomed to operating in a certain manner, we have expectations, and it would be really weird if one or the other of us suddenly threw out any of the above behaviors, and the other would probably be pretty frightened/upset/confused. So, though in theory we never made a playbook - in practice, these customs may reasonably be assumed to be at least somewhat consonant with the idea of "rules".
posted by taz at 5:07 AM on May 27, 2005 [2 favorites]

Be faithful, and try to be nice.

I've found that any attempt to make "rules" beyond that is asking for trouble, not to mention being just a little bit patronising to your partner. I take the view that your partner is what s/he is, and you are what you are. If either of you need "rules" to make the interaction of those two entities tolerable, maybe it isn't such a hot idea to be in a relationship in the first place. But then, I can be a bit simple-minded about these things, possibly.
posted by Decani at 5:07 AM on May 27, 2005

I avoid making comparisons to past romantic relationships. The only downside to this tactic is that it becomes difficult to come up with additional rules.
posted by box at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2005

I just have one rule, and it applies to friendships as well as relationships.

If the person has more than a few habits that irritate you, don't continue with him/her. Those things aren't going to change and you're never going to "love her because of those things", although you *might* accept them. Furthermore, most of these sorts of things are indicative of personality. They are part of a pattern of thought and behavior.

I'm not saying cut people off just 'cause they annoy you once in a while. But, I am saying that if he speaks bad English (and that annoys you), he never cleans his apartment (and that annoys you), and he smokes an awful lot (and that annoys you) that you need to drop him, because those things will continue annoying you for as long as you're with him.
posted by Netzapper at 6:11 AM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

No epileptic seizin'

Good thing no one I've dated has had this rule!

I don't have many rules for relationships. I think "be nice" is a good one - there's a huge value in just doing little things (the random extra chore, small surprise gifts and the like) just because you want to and in treating someone well without necessarily expecting anything in return.

The other two I can think of :
- Don't go to bed angry.
- The person who cooks does not do the dishes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:49 AM on May 27, 2005

Be nice to your partner.

Go easy on yourself (this may be specific to me and my way of being).

Always, always, care about your partner's (or partners') oragasm.
posted by OmieWise at 7:46 AM on May 27, 2005

Kindall, my ex and I were actually in Dr. Gottman's study back in the early 90's. I got about $250 out of it which was a big deal in my starving grad student days.
posted by matildaben at 8:01 AM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

the communicate one is the biggie, i think. that and being prepared to change your mind.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:51 AM on May 27, 2005

Always talk
No cheating
It's OK for sex to be important
Always be affectionate even when angry
Treat someone how you want to be treated
posted by patrickje at 10:03 AM on May 27, 2005

Don't take each other for granted or treat each other with any less respect than you would afford a stranger in a store. That means good for you if you feel so comfortable that you think nothing of burping or farting in front of me, but have the courtesy to say "excuse me". After all, that's what you'd do if it happened in front of a stranger.

In our house, "don't go to bed angry" doesn't work; we usually only fight when we're tired. Wish we'd known it sooner; early on we unnecessarily turned a bunch of petty fights into ugly fights trying to follow that advice (no disrespect to those for whom it works!).
posted by vignettist at 12:35 PM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

* If you're exclusive and you've been going out more than a month -- If you're in the same city, sex at least once a week. Long distance? At least once every six weeks.

May I just toss in here that once you've passed the first bloom of youth, and have jobs, kids, critters, housework, yard work, errands and children's activities...that the above sex schedule may be the tiniest bit optimistic. Especially if you have very young children.

Sex is great, don't get me wrong. But to define some arbitrary "number of times per week/month/year" that you and your partner must make the beast with two backs is setting oneself up for disappointment.

I think my biggest rule: You should make each other laugh. Life without laughter isn't worth living.
posted by dejah420 at 2:43 PM on May 27, 2005

Response by poster: how hard is it to fit in 15 minutes of sex in the 168 hours that make up a week? i think its a better idea the more unlikely you are to get around to it. because once the sex drops off to zero, id imagine it would be hard to jumpstart it again. its no secret men 'need' sex more than women. too many husbands arent getting any. whats up with that?
posted by GleepGlop at 3:39 PM on May 27, 2005

bros before hos.

I would imagine that this changes when you settle down into a lifelong commitment. Right now though, it's the cardinal rule.
posted by palegirl at 7:00 PM on May 27, 2005

...once you've passed the first bloom of youth, and have jobs, kids, critters, housework, yard work, errands and children's activities...that the above sex schedule may be the tiniest bit optimistic. Especially if you have very young children.

It's not a prescription for everyone, but it worked for me even when I was married, taking care of my small daughter, a dog, a tortoise, a catfish, two jobs and an active social life. In fact, I think needed it more then than my early 20s grad school days and more than now, my exciting divorcee days. Once a day is optimistic, but once a week? If I can take time to floss, I can take time to, um, yeah.

It's not a recipe for happiness, but it's something I want out of a relationship. But, of course, YMMV
posted by Gucky at 7:28 PM on May 27, 2005

Don't stay with someone you're not happy with just because you don't want to hurt their feelings.

Always be honest.

Touching is important.

Don't stress about "holding them back" from anything; if you really communicate as you should, they will let you know if anything like that is going on.

Be openminded and accepting.

Don't be defensive.

posted by angeline at 7:57 PM on May 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

- It's okay to ask for help
- Your SO has things they're insecure about or unsure of, too
- When a situation can either be maddening or funny, go with funny
- When you say you're going to call, call. Even just to say that you wont have time to have a full conversation.
- Relationships take effort. They dont have to be work, but they should be appreciated whenever possible (i.e. "i know we've been fighting, but i want you to know that you're important to me")
- If you are a cuddler, and you find yourself with someone who is not a cuddler, consider re-evaluating the relationship.
posted by softlord at 10:17 PM on May 27, 2005 [2 favorites]

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