by Brettani Shannon

New Relationship Do's and Don'ts
The first few weeks of the love game is when one of two things might happen: romance and passion infects you, bonding your hearts forever more, or one of you flops and ruins the chemistry before it has a chance to take hold. Which will it be for you? Heed our tips and make sure your relationship kicks off with a bang.

Have normal, get-to-know-you conversations. Talking incessantly about how you feel and how great things are going between the two of you is nothing short of obnoxious. It projects a certain amount of immaturity that repels the good dates and attracts the wrong ones.

Pressuring your date to do anything is a big no-no. Once again, it is a sign of relationship immaturity as well as personal immaturity. You could beg your date to go to church with your family on Sunday or argue good reasons to stay the night with you — the nature of your pressuring doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are selfishly disrespecting your date�s boundaries. If a relationship starts off with one person pressing on the other�s limits or preferences, there are bound to be loads of regret by the end of it.

Taking Hints
Pay attention to the clues your date is giving you. They may be inviting more intimacy, they may be trying to show you where their boundaries are, or they may be trying to subtly tell you that you�ve got dragon breath. Either way, you want to know, so pay attention. If you aren�t sure, ask; it is a far better option than making the wrong assumption.

Texts and Phone Calls
Refrain from over-calling/texting to keep things light and friendly. Remember the guidelines for conversation even when texting. The �I miss you� text every day when you only just met is really annoying. Not until you are an �official� couple is it appropriate to text or call to talk about your emotions or anything sexual. Don�t call or text to tell them how nice their butt looked the night before. Save that sort of flattery for when you are in the moment, and even then, use it sparingly because it can easily be construed as trashy and rude. What you should focus on is getting to know the other person and letting them get to know you. Think of it this way� After every message or every phone conversation, the other person is going to mull over it in their mind and might even talk about it with a friend. They will dismantle every word you said and search for more meaning behind the words.

Everybody wants to put their best foot forward in a new dating relationship, but don�t pretend to be someone you are not. In turn, watch for warning signs that your date isn�t all they seem to be. Dishonesty, especially misrepresenting themselves, is a big red flag that shouldn�t be ignored. When you do get a clue that there are major differences in areas like spirituality, family, social ethics, or politics, be honest with yourself about the possibility of being truly happy with them. You are looking for a match and so are they.

Gut Instincts
Listen to your gut. If you hear the little alarms going off inside of you, pay attention to them. It is easy to brush your feelings to the side in an effort to fall in love, but when you ignore your instincts over and over again, it gets more difficult to recognize when they are trying to alert you. Most of the time, later on in a relationship or a while after a relationship, one can look back and see the exact time during the first few weeks (many times in the first couple of days) that they had a gut feeling about their date and it turned out to be right.

Don�t be too quick to judge. Sometimes it is wise to look at yourself just as critically during a new relationship. For instance, if you are often turned off by how little men spend on you when they take you out, perhaps it is your value system that needs a check-up rather than theirs.

Maintaining Your Self
Don�t drop everything else in your life. It is common, especially for women, to forget about themselves and take on the identity of their partners. That is the consequence of bad past relationships and lack of positive relationship role models. You can prevent losing yourself in a new relationship by keeping the things that matter to you a part of your daily life. Things like journaling, reading, exercising, and spending time with friends and family, all the things that help to keep you a healthy, balanced person, should remain high on your priority list. Make a point to enjoy the same things you normally do, even in the first weeks of a new romance.

Lowering the Bar
Keep your standards high. Don�t talk yourself into being okay with something that you aren�t. Settling is a sure way to get yourself into a miserable relationship. Do you remember the last time you said to yourself, �I should have known when they� ?� If you aren�t sure what your standard is, make a list of all the things you want in a partner. If your date doesn�t fit the bill, don�t waist your precious time.

Planning and Paying
It is a great idea to trade off date planning and date funding. Not to say that it should be a regulated arrangement of every other date or anything, but stepping away from the traditional system of men planning and paying for all dates can be a lot of fun and make it easier to get to know each other. Taking control of the rendezvous enables you to surprise them, impress them, and romance them. In addition, you can learn a lot about them by switching roles.

Alcohol Consumption
The general rule is to stay relatively sober for at least the first month of dating someone. Getting sloshy drunk anytime in those first few weeks is likely to be your kiss of death. They will undoubtedly see you at your worst and redeeming yourself from that is not an easy feat.

Meeting Friends, Family, and the Ex Ease your new love interest into your social circles. Start off by introducing them to a few select friends, particularly those who help you �screen� prospective mates. An introduction to family members, especially parents, and ex�s, even if they are still a part of your life, shouldn�t happen until you are at least approaching a month of dating. Why? Besides being a little weird and moving too fast, you want to wait because it takes a while to establish comfort levels in social situations. This will give you time to learn to recognize each other�s cues and know enough about each other that an �inner circle” situation isn�t uncomfortable.

Keeping Your Distance
Don�t overwhelm them with attention. Don�t invite yourself over more than once a week, and don�t smother them with physical affection when you are together. You may feel the urge to reach out and touch their sweet face over and over again, but refrain because it is uncomfortable. Men and women often make the mistake of jumping into �couple� behaviors like smooching, holding hands, using terms of endearment, and touching them in sexual ways too soon and scaring off their dates. I will again reiterate that getting to know someone for who they are as an individual should be the focus of a new relationship. Too often, people get caught up in the romance before realizing how little they actually know about their partner.

Everybody has their dirty little secrets, and it wouldn�t be good for you to go telling them to every person you date, but you might want to drop a hint here and there to test the waters. In those first couple of weeks, be as honest as you would like them to be with you. For some couples, after a few dates and things are going well, it could help to discuss the fact that you both have pasts and that you should share them later on down the road. Just make sure that when that one month mark (or comparable milestone) comes around, you let them know some of the details of the skeletons you alluded to. Otherwise, they become secrets that will surely hinder your relationship.



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