1. Be kind, gracious, loving, and forgiving. Give him more grace than you ever thought would be required, and give it over and over. But be kind to yourself also, and if you find yourself exhausted, discouraged, demoralized, or just simply being treated badly – leave. God made you to be respected and treasured and if as a pattern you are not receiving that, leave.
3. Don’t date douchebags.
4. Don’t date douchebags who say they’ve reformed until you’ve seen their behavior change for the good over the course of a long time like a year.
5. Listen to your friends and family. They are not always right, but often are.
6. Don’t break up with someone just because your parents don’t like him. Your spouse will be 200% more present and impactful in your life than your parents will ever be. The ball’s in your court to choose.
7. Men don’t know what they’re doing any more than women do. If they get one out of three things right, that’s good. On the other hand, there’s a difference between a guy with good intentions and character making silly mistakes, and a guy who shows patterns of behavior that speak negatively about his character. In the latter camp is verbal (or physical) abuse, constant selfishness, and any kind of unfaithfulness or cheating.
8. Don’t marry someone you’ve only dated for three months. Even if it works out – and sometimes it does – it makes the first few months of the marriage infinitely harder. You have nothing to lose by waiting. Nothing. As John Steinbeck wrote in a letter on love to his son, “If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
9. Love isn’t enough. You may feel the deepest, most sincere passion and affection for him – and he may feel it for you in return – and the relationship still doesn’t work out. That is one of the great mysteries of love and life. And every romantic comedy, Disney movie, and chic lit book you have ever read lied to you: romantic love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes there are things that just don’t work and never will. Sometimes there are obstacles you can’t surmount. And that’s okay.
10. The X factor. Sometimes in relationships it happens that you are dating a great guy. Everything falls into place, you are a great fit for each other, you like him and maybe even have affection for him as a person, you want to fall in love with him – but you just don’t quite feel it. That necessary attraction and ultimately deeper passion. And after dating him for a little while you still don’t. It’s the x factor. Baffling men and women since the beginning of time. There’s nothing to be done but end the relationship because dragging it out for 6 months or a year will only hurt both of you. Life is long, and you have agency. Don’t stay in something that your gut tells you isn’t working, even if you can’t quite rationally pin down why it’s not working.
“Just a lovely, average girl – that’s what I want” – The Shop Around the Corner