6 things you need to know before starting a new relationship
HOW can you make sure a relationship is off to a good start in the early stages or before it even begins?
Bundaberg relationship counsellor David Lawson, who has been offering relationship advice and guidance for 18 years, says there are a number of factors singles and couples need to consider if they want to make sure they're setting out on the right path.
1. To meet new people, dress right and go out in a group
Mr Lawson says many people get caught up in dressing like they're heading out to a party when they go out in the evening looking to meet new people.
"It sends the wrong message,” he says.
Both men and women should opt for smart attire, and stick to going out in groups to attract the right kind of people, Mr Lawson says.
"Don't go to nightclubs or bars alone,” he says.
"Hanging out by yourself isn't always a good look - most of the time you'll attract the wrong person.”
2. Wait 365 days before having sex
It might seem like an unlikely practice in the modern era, but Mr Lawson swears by waiting to have sex if you're really serious about a relationship.
Sex brings hormones into a relationship, according to Mr Lawson, and that's where judgements end up getting clouded.
"It brings in all the warm and fuzzies, people get caught up in the hormones,” he says.
"If you can go without sex for a year with somebody and at the end of the year you still want to be with each other then it's not about sex.
"If you don't have sex for a year you get the chance to hang out with them and meet their friends and observe.”
Sex should not be on your agenda in forming a new relationship, Mr Lawson says.
"I have seen one-night stands that have developed into a loving, caring relationship where they're still together 20 years later but it's rare,” he said.
3. Think clearly and specifically about what you want
When you're dating, how much attention to you pay to what you'd actually want in your life?
Do you want a fly-in, fly-out worker for a parter who won't always be home?
Or would it bother you to marry a farmer or mechanic only to have dirty laundry piling up all the time?
Would it irk you to marry someone with an attached ex and children, or to be with someone who plays the pokies?
These simple, everyday things are often overlooked in the early stages of a relationship, according to Mr Lawson.
"Be very clear about what you do and don't want,” he advises.
Mr Lawson says many people are put off nailing down specific criteria because they fear it will narrow their choices, but he says knowing what you want from the very start makes it much "harder to get burnt”.
He says people need to think of a new relationship like taking a trip road trip.
"If I put you in a car and said 'we're going to Brisbane', when would you know we're in Brisbane?” he said.
"Maybe when you see a sign saying you've arrived in Brisbane or you're in the CBD you know you're in the city.
"It's the same thing with a relationship, how do you know you've got it when you get there?”
4. Take time to listen to your partner's ex
It may be the last thing you want to do, but sometimes, a little wisdom from those who have gone before you can be informative.
Mr Lawson says it doesn't hurt to sometimes listen if a former partner has something to say.
"Sit down with them and listen to what they've got to say,” he said.
"Sometimes it takes years for the truth to finally come out.”
Mr Lawson said there were cases, however, where someone would treat their ex and their current partner differently.
5. Forget high earners in favour of the financially responsible
Mr Lawson says marrying for money is a trap many fall into, but a large cash flow doesn't always guarantee security.
"The thing is, money is great but it's not how much you earn, it's how much you spend,” he said.
Mr Lawson says it's better to have a partner who earns $500 a week who can save than one who earns $1000 a week but spends $1200.
6. Think about the qualities you want in someone and how you'll assess those qualities
If you're looking for honesty in a partner, how will you tell if they're honest?
Mr Lawson says it's all about gauging how a partner or potential partner exhibits the desired qualities.
Did you partner have one ex in 20 years or multiple relationships?
If their past wasn't trustworthy, how and why would they be different this time around?
Mr Lawson says one red flag in starting a relationship is a history of having affairs.
"The stats are against you,” he says.
"How would that person demonstrate that they're honest and trustworthy?”
"There's a whole heap of things you need to be clear about.”
Ask yourself these questions before starting a relationship:
- What must they have or do? (make me laugh, are good with their money, good worker, has a job etc)
- What you will not tolerate (no drugs, no alcohol, hasn't been in several relationships and has kids to several partners, doesn't work, plays XBox all the time, etc)
- Why do I want to be in a relationship?
- Why would I make a good partner?
- What do I need to change?
- How do I prepare myself for a relationship?
And Mr Lawson's ultimate piece of advice?
"It's better to be lonely and single than to be lonely in a loveless relationship,” he says.