Relationship 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Updated December 26, 2022by ReGain Editorial Team

Relationships have been called the spice of life and with good reason: relationships add a great deal of value to our lives, but they do not come without challenges and require plenty of effort. In the beginning, emotional excitement can overshadow the work that’s required throughout the relationship. It’s important to understand the dynamics of the phases associated with relationships.

In any relationship, the primary factor should be yourself. Personal growth should be a priority both outside and within relationships. This isn’t a selfish approach, but an approach that allows you to love and develop a relationship with yourself before involving someone else. The amount of dedication you show to your mind, spirit, and physical body significantly impacts how prepared you’ll be for an external relationship. In essence, if you are incapable of taking care of your own emotional and physical needs, you are not ready to pursue a relationship.

Several indicators help to identify how prepared you are for a relationship. It’s unnecessary and highly unlikely that you’ll display all these signs, but a few should be slightly familiar to you.

Here are important signs that you may be ready for your first relationship:

Starting New Relationships Can Be Overwhelming

People That Have Similar Views And Perspectives As You Will Be Easily Drawn To You. They will value similar things and are mentally and emotionally available to commit to a relationship. It will be an instant desire by both of you to help each other enjoy the dating experience.

You Are Comfortable With Who You Are And Don’t Need Anyone To Complete You. Many people enter relationships because they seek completion from someone else. No one else can complete the void you feel in your life. You must be happy and content with yourself before drawing anyone else into your web. 

You Know Your Worth And What You Deserve. Once you’re comfortable with your life and begin to value yourself, you won’t accept anything less than what you deserve. Knowing that you are totally worth the love and affection someone offers you is a step towards a healthy relationship. When a person knows their worth and refuses to allow others to treat them less than great, they are mentally prepared to be in a relationship. The effort in the relationship should be unconditional.

You Realize That You Are More Than Enough. It’s critical to realize that you’re not in search of anyone to complete you. You don’t fall short in any area and must be confident in your ability to succeed and elevate those around you. You must accept yourself and be dedicated to improving the areas of your life that you wish to change.

Alone Time Doesn’t Scare You. You are perfectly okay with spending time with yourself. It’s a great time to meditate and focus on every aspect of your life. Quiet time doesn’t bother you at all. You can completely focus on yourself and don’t need to be consumed by social media or your phone as a distraction. Being with yourself is fulfilling at times. If you can enjoy time with yourself, you will be an asset to a relationship.

You Don’t Look For Anyone To Rescue You. Having friends to turn to in times of need is important. However, once you reach the point where you aren’t expecting others to come to your rescue, you’re in a healthy place in life. You realize that your problems are your own, and you work diligently to create effective solutions for them. Self-motivation and dedication are relationship readiness markers.

You Acknowledge The Element That Sets You Apart. When you realize who you are as a person, you also begin to identify your significance. Once you’ve tapped into it, you refuse to compromise it for anyone. You are setting the pace to be the best person you can be for yourself and those around you, including the partners in your relationships.

The List Of Must Haves Is No Longer Relevant. Once you’ve matured emotionally and mentally, you begin to realize what’s important. Afterward, you no longer acknowledge the long and sometimes senseless list of things you expect from other people in the relationship. Your expectations are suddenly replaced with desires. Once you are ready to have a fulfilling relationship, you no longer look to a list to show you what you need out of a relationship. 

The Single Life Doesn’t Bother You. Although you would like someone in your life, you’re more focused on being with someone who values you as much as you value yourself.

You No Longer Look For Someone To Engage. Of course, you still notice people you find attractive, but you’re no longer pursuing that special someone. Once you’re ready for a relationship, you realize that it will happen when it’s time. You’re focused on developing yourself personally, mentally, and emotionally. Your confidence speaks volumes, and anyone worthy of your time will notice it.

You Wear Happiness On Your Face. If you’re able to look in a mirror and admire the smile on your face, you’re in a happy space in your life. It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’re having; your happiness is not defeated. This is a sign that you can lift the spirits of others through your smile and are ready to encourage your mate. If you’ve noticed that you often smile and love the way you feel about life, you’re at the stage where you’re accepting everything about yourself and can offer that to other people, as well.

Your Last Relationship No Longer Affects You. It’s important to give yourself time and space to heal before pursuing the next relationship. If you’ve moved on and no longer hold on to the resentment and animosity from the previous relationship, that’s a positive. Once you’ve honestly forgiven them and yourself for any negative consequences of the relationship, that’s progress, and you may be ready for a relationship.

Relationship 101: Respect The Culture And Dating Etiquette

Everyone has a general idea of what’s appropriate and inappropriate behavior as they go about their lives. Many of these rules carry over to relationships, but a few particular ones are to be considered. It’s healthy to approach or pursue a relationship with a positive mindset and good intentions. There are differences in dating today versus dating decades ago—times change! People change, as well.

Variations exist across the board in dating. As such, relationship advice varies across generations and cultures. It once may have only been accepted for the more “dominant” partner to call first, but now, anyone can feel comfortable and okay with making the first call. It can be confusing for the person interested in traditional-style dating, but is more likely to be attractive and ideal for contemporary dating habits.

Can it work? Is it possible to form a relationship if two partners are opposites? It’s possible…if you know what to expect and demonstrate a few straightforward rules moving forward.

Consider the following basic relationship 101 rules when considering or pursuing a relationship.

  • Be Emotionally Prepared. It’s never a good idea to pursue a relationship if you’re dealing with or denying the emotional or mental baggage in your life. You must work on yourself before you’re capable of being in a healthy relationship. Many great relationships have an enormous potential to end because a person isn’t emotionally prepared for the relationship.
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Approach. If you find yourself interested in someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Too often, people will refrain from approaching people that they are attracted to because of traditional standards or preconceived notions. Be brave and approach the person respectfully. It doesn’t matter who approaches first; as long as the approach is welcome and done respectfully, take a chance! You never know what great thing you might stumble upon.

  • Be Yourself.Don’t allow your perception of what you think others are looking for in a person to allow you to change who you are. Doing so can set you up for a failed relationship before it develops. Think about it: you can’t pretend to be someone else for long, because you’re at your best when you can present your true self. You may also end up with a person that is not a good match for you because you are portraying a personality and needs that are not realistic and honest.

  • Don’t Allow Faulty Communication To Be A Barrier.Some people insist on not reaching out to someone they’ve gone out with first. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t called or texted you yet. If you desire to reach out and say hello or say that you enjoyed the time spent with them, do Don’t refuse to call or text until after a few days have passed because you don’t want to seem eager. It’s okay to let that person know that you enjoyed it and would like to get together again soon.

  • Don’t Become Intolerable. Yes, you’re encouraged to reach out, but this does not equate to being intolerable. Allow them to respond to your text or return your call before texting or calling them again – and again! It can be unpleasant and somewhat of a turn-off if you consistently text, email, or call a person before they can respond to your initial efforts.

  • Take Time For Yourself. Don’t allow your new relationship or love interest to consume your entire life. Take time out for yourself, and don’t abandon friends and family. Live a life that is fulfilling all around. You must have supportive friends around you to help strengthen your foundation outside of the relationship you’re trying to build. A guide for making friends will be useful if you want to learn how to have trustworthy people in your life.

  • Practice Social Media Etiquette. There’s nothing wrong with connecting with people you date on social media. However, it is not a good idea to become a social media stalker. This is beyond creepy and may even deter the person from continuing the relationship with you. If you are confident in yourself, you won’t question social media activity. You also won’t allow yourself to remain involved with anyone who disrespects themselves or you on social media. Some studies indicate that partners who connect less frequently on social media have fewer disagreements.

Starting New Relationships Can Be Overwhelming

  • Get To Know The Person Emotionally Before Pursuing A Physical Relationship. Many relationships develop because the sex was good, and some of them may work. However, to enjoy a healthy relationship, get to know the person emotionally before pursuing a physical relationship. This is important, because it prevents you from confusing sexual attraction with attraction in general. Many people find themselves sexually attracted to a person but later find that they have nothing in common with the person beyond sex.

  • Pursue The Relationship, Not The Promise. It’s ideal to start a relationship with a person who has similar goals and ambitions as yourself. It’s important to do so, but shouldn’t be the only motivation for the relationship. Don’t begin dating a person because you’re eager to marry and have children, and they want the same things. It’s important to build a relationship between just the two of you before working on the promise of a life-long relationship. Enjoy each other, and don’t be afraid to give each other a little space. It makes you both excited to see each other and spend time together when you do have the chance to get to know each other, rather than racing toward a finish line.

  • More Than Anything Else, Take Care Of And Respect YOURSELF! If you’re in a relationship, never allow your love, admiration, and dedication for others to replace the love, admiration, and dedication you have for yourself. Pay attention to the changes that take place in your body and mind while you’re dating. Are you pleased with these changes? Did they take place without you noticing? If the changes are not what you want to see, take some time, and work on them. It’s the best way to remain completely happy with yourself while dating someone else. If you’re happy with the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of your life, you’ll continue to be happy in the relationship that you pursue.

Different Relationship Styles

Relationships can take many forms, from dating someone to having a committed partner. What works for one person may not for the next. To provide the ultimate relationship guide, it’s important to bring light to different relationship styles.

While not an exhaustive list, here are some common relationship terms present in today’s society:

Monogamy. This is the practice of having one partner at a time, whether you are unmarried or married.

Non-monogamy. This is the practice of having more than one partner at a time. There are many forms of non-monogamy including open relationships and polyamory. There may or may not be hierarchal structures within these relationships, such as having a primary partner and dating casually outside that relationship.

Dating. There can be a big difference in how people define dating. To some, it can be casually going for dinner or activities with someone you are getting to know. For others, dating might mean the beginning of a serious relationship and involve a certain level of commitment.

Marriage or a civil union. Married couples and those who are in a civil union have undergone a cultural or legal procedure to document their commitment to each other.  

If you are considering or currently involved in any type of relationship, it’s healthy to engage in relationship therapy, whether online through platforms like ReGain, or via your existing therapist. Therapy is a great tool that works to support the individual and the relationship. Consider reaching out with (or without) your partner, and see if it can benefit you and your relationship!

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