Falling in love? Easy. Staying in love? Not so easy. That’s why you need Cosmo’s crash course in romance reality. Sit down, girl. Let’s talk.
Sure, we give lots of great love advice every month—so how can we top that? By putting together our greatest hits: A list of the most dead-on tips we’ve ever heard. We assembled an all-star team of psychologists, counsellors, researchers, and matchmakers to spill their secrets to making that complicated-but-wonderful guy-girl thing actually work. They outlined five major love stages, each with its share of speed bumps, and supplied keys to navigating them—35 in all. Because, hey, even if you’re not exactly sure where you’re going together, shouldn’t you at least enjoy the trip?
1. Don’t sleep with a guy on the first date if you want the best shot at some kind of future with him. Yes, plenty of relationships do start that way, but you risk being put into the one time-fling category.
2.Never pretend to be into a guy’s hobbies. Your true colours will come out.
3.Enjoy the moment when you’re on dates. That means no discussing the future with him or worrying Is he The One? by date four. For the first month or so, your only job is to have fun.
4.Focus on your own pleasure in bed. If you’re too busy showing off your skills, you’ll forget to enjoy yourself (and rob him of the pleasure of driving you wild).
5.Sit or stand side by side with your man while doing things together whenever possible. Men typically feel more relaxed and intimately connected in this position than when you’re directly facing each other.
6.Spend equal—if not more—time with your friends in the first few months of dating. Guys often rush into a relationship, then suddenly cry, “This is moving too fast!” You have to apply the brakes.
7.Keep your options open for at least three months before deciding to be exclusive. You need a minimum of 90 days to even begin to know what someone is really like.
8. He’s not your boyfriend until he publicly calls you his girlfriend or agrees to be exclusive. End of story.
9.When you have a problem with his lifestyle, speak up before you get really angry. If you don’t tell him that his partying bugs you, you’ll eventually explode on him—not a smart communication technique.
10.If you need a Define This Relationship Talk, initiate it while walking with your guy. Low-key activity lowers his stress hormone levels, which rise when he’s forced to chat about his emotions.
11.Deliver an ultimatum to get a commitment only if you’re prepared to walk away. Be firm about expectations, and give him a deadline.
12.You can’t force a guy to cut ties with his past... But explain why his hanging out with an ex or a coke-head friend hurts you. If he really cares, he’ll respect your wishes or tell you why he needs continued contact.
13.Cut your guy some slack if he promises you’ll get engaged once he reaches a goal, like getting a promotion.
14.Develop binocular vision: The ability to see his perspective plus your own. Try to appreciate his point of view and he’ll be more likely to appreciate yours.
15.Know this: Over time, a guy’s attitudes, opinions, beliefs, politics, and views towards money could be fluid. What probably won’t change: His values, stance on monogamy, and religious beliefs.
16.Speak up about specifics—a birthday present you’d like, a restaurant you want to go to. Men don’t pick up on subtle clues.
17.If you find out something bad about his past, like he cheated on an ex, ask why he did it and what he learned from it. If he is contrite and has vowed to change, chances are he is probably not going to do it again.
18. When he seems overwhelmed during an argument, take a 20-minute break. Men’s bodies easily flood with stress hormones, triggering an instinct to flee. Let him take a breather.
19.One habit all happy couples share: Doing fun things together. Competitive games (pool, Trivial Pursuit) have a strong effect because they help you bond.
20.Don’t let him see you peeing, plucking your eyebrows, or doing an at-home bikini wax. You can be “real” in ways that don’t chip away at romance.
21.Keep some secrets to preserve mystery. Examples: Your “number,” what happened that girls’ weekend in Cabo, a threesome you had.
22.Jump on him instead of next to him on the couch. Being sexy and playful takes effort, but it’s the glue that keeps couples together.
23.Don’t succumb to pity sex when you’re not feeling it. Most women need 30 minutes to relax before they’re mentally ready to become intimate. Chill, then go at it.
24. And hug too. Guys have less oxytocin, the brain’s bonding chemical, than women do, but it can be boosted with frequent touch.
25. Balance out each negative interaction with five positive actions. Things like a peck on the cheek, make-up sex, or saying I love you will help repair and restore things after a fight.
26.Be unpredictable. Guys want variety, but they don’t require it from other girls. While reading the paper, say “You know, I’ve always wanted you to do me on the stairs,” then nonchalantly go back to the headlines.
27.Both of you at some point will question your ability to be faithful forever. Keep it to yourself, and don’t take it personally if he’s having the same doubts.
28.If you wonder whether you’re settling, ask yourself, Am I spending so much time saving this relationship that I’ve neglected the goals I had before we met? If I walked away right now, could I live with losing him? If you answer no, stick with it and re-evaluate in six months.
29.Love doesn’t conquer all. Some incompatibilities just won’t go away, no matter how much you care.
30.Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s.
31.Innocent jealousy keeps things spicy. Occasionally laugh about how you happily rebuffed a cheesy guy’s advances.
32.Get real about sex: Five to 15 percent of intercourse in healthy relationships is either dissatisfying (one of you doesn’t climax or foreplay is rushed or skipped) or dysfunctional. Don’t sweat it until you clock more duds than that.
33.If you do slip up and cheat, think very hard before you confess. Sometimes coming clean does more harm than good.
34.Life is long. If the timing just isn’t right now, take a break.
35.Life is also short. Make a point to laugh your asses off regularly.
By Holly Eagleson
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