What are some good goals to set in the beginning of a relationship?
October 23, 2014 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I've been dating this girl for a little over a week now and we're pretty heavily into each other. We're in the puppy-love phase that most relationships start out with. It's very sweet and I'm enjoying it. I'm fairly sure I want to stay with this person longer-term. What are some things I can do in the first few weeks of our relationship to help make that happen? What do you try to get out of the first few weeks of a relationship that you're interested in maintaining?

I know this will probably vary from person to person and relationship to relationship, but I'm looking for general advice. I haven't been in too many relationships that I've felt I wanted to take to the next level, so I'm pretty new at this.

I'm sure you can make the argument that I don't know after a week that I want to stay in this relationship long-term, but my lady and I are compatible in several important ways, so I'm optimistic that this is the case.

posted by Fister Roboto to Human Relations (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'd say just enjoy the bliss for now. Like Chris Rock says, in the first few months of a relationship, you're not you - you're the ambassador of you. Any decent match will have a great time for a while, almost conflict free. You don't really know if there are major issues of communication or empathy in most relationship until there's been at least one serious conflict or fight. Neither her personal weaknesses nor yours are likely to spontaneously emerge at this stage, and it would be silly to force it.
posted by namesarehard at 9:40 AM on October 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

Establish a pattern of openness starting now. Good relationships have good communication, and also feeling like the two of you can talk about anything will help you feel closer.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 AM on October 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: This probably isn't the answer you want because it is a what NOT to do, not a what TO do...

Trying to force and craft the foundations for a long term relationship after a week of dating is exactly what may make it NOT a long term relationship. The more you try to force it, control it, and try to craft this long term relationship the more unnatural and forced it will seem, and that could very well ruin all the awesome you're enjoying right now. And really, a relationship that required crafting and all this groundwork one week in to the relationship for it to be able to be long term.... well, good relationships really shouldn't take so much work. If you're happy, you're enjoying yourself, and things are going well, hurray for you. It is awesome you have found someone you enjoy so much and see potential in! You seriously don't need to drive this. Just go with it. Let the relationship evolve naturally. If you are as compatible as you feel you are then you don't need to put in any of this extra work and crafting.

Honestly, I think what you do is just... go with it. Seriously. Just have fun.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:47 AM on October 23, 2014 [26 favorites]

Best answer: I'd say relax, and don't focus on the future. Why? Because as namesarehard noted, the puppy love phase is just that - a phase. Yes, some relationships retain a much higher level of giddiness and/or general glow, but those are fairly rare cases.

Seconding Sara C. regarding openness. Try to be more honest about who you are and what you feel, while also paying attention to what your SO says and does. I don't mean that you should be bluntly honest, but try to ease off of the "everything is awesome" if you find something that might normally push your buttons, or something you might not agree with.

And don't try to change yourself in ways that might come undone a few months into the relationship. If you feel that this relationship is pushing you to become a better person, great! But if it's changing to appease your SO and you're going against your honest preferences, the change may not last. I'm thinking this could be seen as improving your wardrobe (a good thing that could last) versus changing your music collection (going against your natural preferences).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

One more thing - I know I said "do the exact opposite of what you are asking", but I don't want you to feel bad for asking this question. I SOOOOOOO understand how you feel right now. When i started dating my now husband I had the same "OMG this is so good, I need to do ALL THE THINGS to make sure we keep dating!". This is normal. You have something good and you want to do what you can to keep it. You just really don't need to anything special other than keep being awesome together, naturally.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:55 AM on October 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

I agree a thousand percent with PuppetMcSockerson.

Using the term dating to describe something that's been happen for a week is ... it's just nonsense. Have a good time. Have another good time. Have additional good times. Wait for a relationship to grow.

Being giddy and having a wonderful time is great. Adding relationship rules is too much freight.

Be kind, be respectful, be decent - you know, follow the usual social rules.

Good luck.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:55 AM on October 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was going to comment, but pretty much what PuppetMcSockerson said. I speak from experience, don't be me. Go with the flow and enjoy the moment.
posted by lunastellasol at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2014

When dating a lot of people get focused on "does this person like me." What you should actually be focusing on is "do I like this person." Just enjoy yourself, take things as they come, and make sure that you're happy and feeling like you can be yourself.

I also think it's great to share things about yourself early and often. It encourages the other person to share about themselves, too, and as I see from the comments above me other people are telling you to do this, too. This is great advice. Just be open and honest right from the start, that way if some issue does arise down the road, you'll already be good at talking to each other about complicated things.

But mostly just be chill and enjoy it for what it is. For me personally, the fastest way to ruin the fun of a new relationship is to force it into some kind of specific box too fast. Let that conversation come later. Just be yourself.
posted by phunniemee at 9:57 AM on October 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

OP, I think it would help if you clarified whether or not this is someone you've known for a week or this is a relationship that has grown out of a period of dating and/or friendship.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:59 AM on October 23, 2014

Response by poster: We knew each other for a brief period before we decided to be an exclusive couple, but not for very long.

I've only lived where I live now for two months.

I should clarify to say that I'm interested in setting up good habits within the relationship early on, with the idea that it's one I might want to last longer-term, as opposed to trying to fit the relationship in a box.

Also, ideas about what not to do are more than welcome. Thanks!
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2014

Tell/ show teh other person something nice every day. Something you appreciate about them, something they are good at, a personal qulity of theirs you admire, a good job they did, they sexy, etc.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've traipsed into numerous dating scenarios that were what I would consider similarly flawless during the honeymoon stage -- which can last up to a year, IME -- only to have the tone of the relationship change very, very drastically when circumstances dictated that our interests and compatibilities could not remain quite so perfectly aligned. It's just life, and we're all just weaving in and out of each other's trajectories, but it's next to impossible to ascertain whether any relationship has staying power if the people involved haven't endured even a shred of difficulty together, especially when you're still in the super touchy-feely/hot sex with a hot new person/getting totally drunk on oxytocin stage.

The early days of dating someone brand-new are a series of instances in which you are knowingly poised to present your best self, like getting and giving an Instagram/Facebook version of your actual life. Where the hard part comes in -- the part that will really let you know that you're both in it for the long haul -- will be when someone's parent or pet dies, someone loses a job, someone gets in an accident, etc.

Puppy love is a lot of fun, and it's wonderful that you're feeling so optimistic about dating her for the indefinite future, but my main piece of advice is that you cannot predict with any kind of certainty what you're going to feel about a week-long relationship next week, let alone next month, next year, or next decade.

I know the rush of feelings and hormones is difficult to endure with a steady hand, but unless you've been friends with this woman for years and are only just now taking the next step in an already-established relationship, you barely know each other at this point, so you really just need to be observant and see if this acquaintance has the makings of a long-term or permanent romance.

So really, there's nothing you can do except enjoy every minute of it, stay honest and open, and take it one day at a time. Good luck, it sounds like a blast!

PS, bring her to the meetup!
posted by divined by radio at 10:07 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm with those who say "enjoy it" and be honest. Really, you can't manipulate it like that.

All you can do is not do things that are obviously stupid. Don't lie, don't do things you don't want to have to answer for later.

This is harder, but if you can both make sure you're maintaining your own personal time, hobbies, interests, and activities it will prevent the two of you over-glomming onto each other and having to dial it back later. It's important for people to spend time apart and have their own identities in a relationship, and that's one thing that people (maybe especially women, depending on their socialization) give up too easily and then have to fight too hard to reclaim later.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:09 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing you should think about once you are a bit farther down the road is whether this is someone you find it easy to be kind to. I don't think you can gauge this until you've been through a few stressful situations together, but I believe it is an important part of what makes a good couple.
posted by Area Man at 10:13 AM on October 23, 2014 [17 favorites]

Spend some time apart, being with your friends or simply doing something alone. It's really, really tempting to spend every waking moment with your favorite person, especially at this stage. But it's important to spend time with your friends, or go to meetups, or do Whatever apart now and then for your friendships and mental health. Plus, then you guys have something interesting to talk about when you reconvene.
posted by ldthomps at 10:36 AM on October 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Be yourself from the start because if you try to be a perfect version of you it's not sustainable. So when you do become you again (out of sheer exhaustion) you might suddenly not be the person she wants to date.

Be a person of your word. Honesty and follow-through are crucial is any kind of relationship from romance to friendship to workplace.


If limerence had a color it would be red because all those red flags you should be watching for just blend into the background rendering them invisible. So try to keep a few brain cells freed up to look at your new friend with an objective eye.

Have fun!
posted by cecic at 10:41 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've been dating this girl for a little over a week now and we're pretty heavily into each other. We're in the puppy-love phase that most relationships start out with. It's very sweet and I'm enjoying it. I'm fairly sure I want to stay with this person longer-term. What are some things I can do in the first few weeks of our relationship to help make that happen? What do you try to get out of the first few weeks of a relationship that you're interested in maintaining?

I had a longer thing typed out but it really boils down to "Don't make things weird". Don't tell her you love her on the third date, don't introduce her to your family, don't call/text too much, don't get shitfaced drunk at a party with her, etc...

The first few weeks are all about not making a bad impression.
posted by empath at 11:00 AM on October 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would give a lot of the same advice as for making a close friend. When you each talk about your day, try to get into details: what good and bad things happened, what were your struggles, your successes, your failures, where you got stuck. Ask follow-up questions the next time you see her "How did xxx thing turn out?", "Did you ever figure out yyy?" Learn the main characters in each other's lives, partly by meeting them, and partly by listening to stories. Learn about each other's friends and family members: what are the relationships like with each person?

It may take time! If she doesn't want to talk about a specific person or situation much, leave it alone for a while and ask only gentle, general questions next time it comes up: maybe "How was your visit with your dad?" instead of "Did you end up having another fight with your dad?" and see how far she takes it. Similarly, it may take her some time to learn who all the important people in your life are, and to always remember from one time to the next what you told her last.

Another thing to do, more different from the advice for making a friend, is to look for thoughtful and romantic gestures. Think about the five love languages (saying loving things, touching in a loving way, performing acts of service, giving gifts, spending quality time together) and if you haven't done one of them in a while, try to think of something (it can be small and simple!). Buy flowers or something sweet, cook or bake something, help with a chore or task, give a compliment or say something nice, etc.

Finally, try to make romantic plans. Go on dates, maybe take a small trip together the two of you (it can be just a day trip) to a place you don't usually go. Think of something one of you has never done before (or that neither of you has done before) and do it together.

But don't go too fast -- build up gradually! (Don't weird her out, as empath says above) At first, if you buy or make a gift it should be very small and simple (if it's a book make it clear she is under no obligation to ever read it!), and plans shouldn't be too elaborate or far afield. Start with evening plans, then maybe a lunch after which you propose a walk and/or another activity if she happens to be free and the conversation isn't getting too difficult to keep up. After a few successful longer dates, maybe go to a museum or park or show that's farther away. Romantic weekends away are the best, but probably it will take months to get to that point.

Good luck! It sounds like you are off to a great start!
posted by parkin at 11:23 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd try to figure out if this is the right person for you yet, beyond your feelings, but into the practical.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:50 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Listen to her words and to her actions and use that information to be a good boyfriend/human.

(I think you'll be fine!)
posted by Room 641-A at 12:35 PM on October 23, 2014

Be kinder and nicer to your new friend than you would be to a random stranger. And I'm assuming you're like me, where you talk to everyone within earshot and offer to get things off the top shelf for kids.

Be kind and nice to anyone who serves you in a restaurant or gets you a cup of coffee. Tip big.

Smile often, laugh often, and go with whatever makes you happy in the moment.

Don't bring up weddings, children or meeting family members just yet. I had a guy tell me he wanted to see me with a baby in my arms after the second date. Although the baby was very nice, I left skid marks.

Agree that it's perfectly okay to tell each other:

1. I wish I could talk longer, but I've got to pee.
2. I wish I could talk longer, but my show is on.
3. I wish I could talk longer, but I have to run out and buy cat food.

This refers to phone conversations. If people even have those any more.

Don't project too much, too early.

If it turns out you're right for each other...go for it.

Husbunny and I met in person in July and were engaged by December. Fast isn't always wrong.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on October 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Here are some good habits to get into: take responsibility for both your actions and your words. Apologize if you've screwed up. Admit it when you're wrong. If your feelings get hurt, or if you have a problem, talk to your partner about it and be kind when you do it. Practice using "I" statements in this form: "I feel really sad when you tease me about my green hair." When in doubt, be kind. Do your half of the work in the relationship, both logistically and emotionally. Say "please" and "thank you" a lot. Figure out what things make your partner feel loved and happy and try and do those things frequently. Spend time together doing things and not just sitting in front of the tv. Good relationships will challenge you to grow, I think; when this happens, you get a choice: you can either decide to accept the challenge or you can get defensive; try not to get defensive.
posted by colfax at 12:48 PM on October 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

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