What I Wish I Could Tell My 20-Year-Old Self About Relationships

Don't sacrifice yourself for the sake of your partner.
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Relationships can be the most challenging aspect of life. Few of us get the insights and savvy advice we wish we had embraced when we were young and starting along the relationship path. I've made many partner mistakes in my past, one of which led to a divorce. Today, I'm happily remarried. I'm also a busy dating & relationship coach and I have many suggestions that I wish I had known back when I was twenty years old. So here's my list based on wisdom I've learned through personal experience and coaching dozens of clients.

1. Don't bring unresolved baggage from previous relationships into your present relationship. And don't find a partner who does that either. Identify your feelings of anger, hurt, pain, guilt and disillusionment and accept these feelings as lessons learned. It then becomes easier to move on. You can't have a successful relationship when carrying old baggage from the past.

2. Avoid "fairy-tale" thinking. It's not your partner's job to fix you or make you happy. It is your responsibility to be all you can be when you enter a relationship. Dependency and neediness are not attractive qualities, so don't assume anyone can meet all your needs or desires.

3. The basis for a healthy relationship is friendship. This level of comfort translates into a solid foundation for love to blossom and intimacy to develop. Strive for friendship first before you open the door to the physical and emotional closeness that is so essential to a solid partnership.

4. Be sure your expectations are realistic. Are your demands about weight, age, height, financial success and other factors limiting your ability to find the right partner who will love and appreciate you? You must be flexible, objective and fair in your expectations, so you don't set yourself up for pain and disappointment.

5. Be able to communicate effectively by encouraging open, honest dialogues. Be attuned to your nonverbal cues and body language that can trigger messages and unconscious signals to your partner. Be alert regarding his nonverbal cues as well. We say more with expressions, voice tone and gestures than we ever realize.

6. Notice any uncomfortable behaviors that would be a sign of impending abuse. Jealously, quick attachment, mood swings, anger issues, verbal threats or distorted accusations are the red flags that spell caution. Address these issues directly and early on. Don't let disrespectful or abusive behavior become part of your comfort zone.

7. Don't sacrifice yourself for the sake of your partner. It's important to be flexible whenever possible, while still maintaining the values, integrity and standards that are important to you. You want a partner who is happy to do the same and values you for who you are!

8. Trust your intuition, which is vital to your well-being. This internal antenna continually sends you messages and if anything or anyone makes you feel uneasy, don't ignore it.

9. Successful relationships are built on mutual respect. Therefore, the more you focus on negative aspects of your partner, the more you will deny yourself the positive, attractive aspects you noticed when you first started dating.

10. Maintain your individual interests, including friends, activities and professional goals. You must be able to orchestrate your life and not feel smothered by any man or relationship. Don't be clingy or choose someone who controls or clings to you. You'll regret it!

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Dating & Relationship Coach as well as co-author of 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60! and True Love At Last for Women Over 40: Answers You Need for the Relationship You Want! Her Create Your Ideal Relationship Kit and free ebook on Smart Dating Advice for Women Over 40: Answers to Your Most-Asked Questions are available at www.womendatingafter40.com.

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