Five Facts from a Guy #12 {about 20-something dating}

Happy Friday, little friendreaders! I'm checking in from Charleston today, where I'm spending the weekend with my mama. We're drinking coffee, exploring this sweet town and being friends, so, for you is another round of Five Facts from a Guy. 

This week's comes from Kevin, who is engaged to my dear friend Maggie. Kevin and Maggie met, fell in love and got engaged quickly and, I heard it all from her perspective throughout the last year and a half. It was so much fun reading about the relationship from his perspective. It made me so happy! And, I loved his advice on 20-something dating.

And, in case you've missed them, catch up on the previous Five Facts from a Guy posts.

Maggie and I were in  Jamie's wedding  together in June. A few of the bridesmaids' dates couldn't attend the wedding, so Kevin was the stand-in for all three of us. He definitely got the best dancer award :)

Maggie and I were in Jamie's wedding together in June. A few of the bridesmaids' dates couldn't attend the wedding, so Kevin was the stand-in for all three of us. He definitely got the best dancer award :)

Happy reading, happy Friday!

1. Timing is everything. In my view, ambitious young professionals in their early to mid-20s make poor boyfriends and girlfriends, particularly in an urban setting. This formative stage in our lives is often characterized by long hours in the office, financial stress from budgeting an entry level salary, postgraduate academic pursuits, family commitments, and a crowded social calendar. Wondering where sleep and exercise fit into the equation? Me too. It’s a time in our lives when we tend to behave selfishly in order to balance all of our obligations and establish our careers.

I’m no relationship expert, but I don’t think “behaving selfishly” is one of the qualities an expert would attribute to a healthy relationship. That’s not to say don’t date or have intimate relationships at this time in your life, because looking back, it was a great time (for me, at least) to learn. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t always feel like a priority in your significant other’s life. More importantly, if your relationships seem to always come to an unceremonious ending, don’t worry, because the right time, and ultimately the right person, is worth waiting for (to be continued in #5).

2. Boys will be boys. Let’s be honest, boys never grow up. We still drink too much, too often, laugh at the same jokes we thought were funny in high school, and are perfectly content to spend all day Sunday on the couch watching NFL Redzone and checking our fantasy teams. But there is a critical inflection point at which we achieve the emotional maturity to hold up our end of the relationship bargain.

We stop blowing you off to go out drinking with the boys 2 or 3 times a week. We recognize a handwritten card to celebrate a special occasion goes a long way. We learn date night means going out to a respectable establishment and having a meaningful conversation. And what’s more, we might finally have the disposable income to pay for some nice things. This happens at a different time for everyone, but for me, it was around age 26 or 27.

3. Shut up and listen. My fiancée told me that one of the first things she noticed about me was how well I listened to her. I didn’t rush to interject or judge the things she was saying. I let her speak until she felt she explained herself well, reflected on what she said, and then responded thoughtfully. She once told me that it was from our early interactions that she gained the trust that now serves as the cornerstone of our relationship.

I believe listening is a skill, perhaps the most important skill in a relationship, and like all skills, it takes time to practice and develop. But, also like all skills, some guys are better than others, and some will never learn. You are best served to avoid guys who don’t listen to you from the outset if you are looking for a meaningful relationship.

4. Other areas of your life start to improve. When I started dating my fiancée, I started to experience unprecedented success in other areas of my life, and I don’t think it was a coincidence. I completed a grueling 3-year process to earn a professional designation, I bought my first home, I achieved an ownership stake in my company, and my relationships with friends and family were stronger than ever.

While there is always a bit of luck involved in all of life’s successes, I attribute much of my good fortune to how optimistic my world view became once I found a healthy relationship with a woman I truly love. I spent the first 5 or 6 years of my post-college life as a cynic, always quick to point out what was wrong with the world and everybody in it. Not to say that a healthy level of skepticism doesn’t have a place in our lives, but optimism often pays off, and it can be hard to be optimistic when you are not in a fulfilling relationship.

5. When you know, you know. Shortly after college, I spent nearly four years in a relationship that never should have happened. The relationship was one of convenience. We met years earlier through mutual friends while still in high school, went to the same college where we hardly talked to each other, but got reacquainted one night in the city after college when we went out with our old high school friends. We both desperately wanted companionship, but went looking for it in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was immature, selfish (see #1 above), and liked the idea of a stable relationship much more than I liked the actual relationship. She was much more mature than me, and for a while probably believed I was “the one,” but 2-3 years into our relationship, cracks started to emerge. We were fundamentally different people and we grew apart. At no point over the course of almost four years did I go ring shopping. The thought never crossed my mind. It wasn’t meant to be.

My experience with my (now) fiancée was completely different. We clicked immediately after being introduced by mutual friends. I had never been so excited as I was for our first date, which started with a Friday afternoon Cubs game, and then led into a bottle of wine looking over Diversey Harbor at the Chicago skyline, and ended with a late dinner at one of her favorite restaurants in the city. The conversation was effortless. There was an immediate comfort level like I had never experienced before. Our relationship took off from that point like a launch pad. She was the one.

What may be apparent as a theme throughout this post and what I am trying to say is be patient. Don’t expect to find the one a couple years after college when you are still trying to find your place in the world. You might be closer to 30 than you would like by the time you find the one, and that’s ok. You will know yourself better, and so will he.

Five Facts from a Guy #11 {about dating}

Happiest of Fridays, readerfriends! Today's Five Facts from a Guy comes from my old friend, Ben. He and I go way back to middle school and high school, but he moved to Atlanta a few years ago for his medical residency. We've become good friends again since then!

Ben and I often have different perspectives on things, so I was excited to hear his view on the early days of dating. Below he shares shares the wisdom he's learned from his days on the scene. Enjoy!

And, in case you've missed them, catch up on the previous Five Facts from a Guy posts.

1.  The guy you are dating, without a doubt, thinks you are beautiful.  Own it!  Stop worrying about your height, weight, makeup, and clothes because guys don't really care about those things! Believe me you look just as good in a sundress as you do in jeans and a t-shirt (or wearing pajamas with wet hair for that matter).  Dress the way you like and the way that makes you feel good.  And if you don't feel good about your body (we have all been there), carpe diem! Take charge of your body and happiness. Guys find confidence most attractive, so do the things you need to do to feel that way.

2.  Time apart is good for both of us. This is a recurring theme among the Five Facts from a Guy posts. That is because it is really important.  Maintain your friendships and keep doing the activities that made me interested in you in the first place.  I'll go on run or hang with my friends in the meantime.  And please don't cancel plans with your friends and family to spend time with a significant other watching Breaking Bad.  Your other relationships will dwindle and you will begin to feel desperate to spend time with your significant other.

3. An inability to detach from your phone irritates us. I know I'm 30 going on 53 on this one, but please detach from your smartphone, your smartwatch, and the rest of your smartdevices for just a couple of hours so that we can enjoy the wine and tapas.  I get it, you have a very active twitter account, instagram account, snapchat account, pinterest account, facebook account, and you have gotten 10 texts from your girlfriends plus two work-related emails. We are interested in spending quality time with you and it annoys us to look across the table at someone that is completely disengaged.

4. You hold the trump card of physical intimacy! So ladies, don't give it up on the first date! Every guy wants to get physical. It's how we are wired. You'll save a lot of heartache to wait until you are in a committed relationship. Hold out until you have the level of commitment you want and you'll quickly find out if he is interested in you and being an important part of your life.  It may sound crazy but soon enough it will be him bringing up the DTR talk (defining the relationship).

5.  There are good guys out there. You never know where you can meet somebody. Maybe online, maybe at the grocery store. So don't sweat it  if your relationships don't play out as you expected.  If you are honest and true to yourself, you'll find the guy you are looking for.

Five Facts from a Guy {about when you know you’ve got it good.} #10

Happy first Friday in August, dear readers! I always love that Friday feeling, but this week I'm feeling extra amped. I'm staying in town and am thrilled about it. Tomorrow, I'm doing a Core Power Yoga class, going to True Food then hitting the pool. Wahoo!

To kick off the weekend, I have another round of Five Facts from a Guy! Today we're checking in with Peter, who recently proposed to my dear friend, Jordan. I first met Peter when he and Jor came to Atlanta in 2014. I know I have no proof of this, but, even then I knew he was the guy for her. I was so happy when they got engaged in July! Today he's posting about when to know you've got a good thing going.

And, in case you've missed them, catch up on the previous Five Facts from a Guy posts.

1. Be willing to try new things. I guess it’s expected that by our mid-twenties we’re supposed to know exactly what we like and don’t like, but I’m not totally sold on that idea.  I can tell you unequivocally that I’m not really into mayonnaise, and as embarrassing as it is, traditional sun tan lotion kind of weirds me out because of multiple similarities between the two.  However, I’m slowly warming up to spray on sunscreen, due to my fiance’s general distaste for skin cancer.  A true win win.  In the same vain, she’s totally willing to try a “no thank you bite” of whatever exotic seafood dish I’ve ordered for dinner – even though she hates pretty much everything that lives in of the ocean that isn’t a mermaid.  Anyway, my point is to not be afraid of change and through compromise you sometimes have way more fun than you’ve ever expected.

2. Be authentic. Far too frequently people to try to manufacture a persona they’ve decided is “who they want to be” but isn’t who they actually are.  It turns out false appearances are pretty tough to keep up and usually quite transparent.  If you don’t like PF Changs because it reminds you of your ex-boyfriend, that’s something I should know.  If my favorite food in the whole wide world is candy corn, I’m not going to be afraid to tell you.  The people who live in catalogs aren’t real – and if they were, I bet they’d stink.  And sometimes I can still disagree with the “real you.”  For example, my fiancé pretends to like football games, but happily let me know she thinks the game should be shortened to eliminate the fourth quarter – because she gets bored.  That’s just crazytalk.  All in all, I think people with substance are cool.  We’ve all got some kind of weirdo baggage.  Share and embrace in it.  It’s what makes you you.

3. Laugh. This one’s pretty simple.  Do it.  Laugh at each other, laugh with other people and never grow too old to laugh at yourself.  Sometimes you accidentally go pee right after you’ve cut a bunch of jalapenos for your fiancé’s recipe (she was just my girlfriend then, but I bet she’s still behave the exact same way today) and before you know it, she’s rolling on the floor in laughter as you’re getting in touch with feelings you never knew existed in places that aren’t appropriate to talk about on the internet. In the end, that was funny for me too, but for FAR different reasons.  Laughter can take different shapes.  It could be the giggles you still share over the first time you accidentally kissed years before you even thought about dating or the uncontrollable fits you experience laughing along with trash TV shows like Hollywood Game Night.  Either way, laugh.  Life’s too short to be serious all the time.

4. Share your friends. The people someone surrounds them self with say a lot about who they are, who they’ve been and ultimately, who they’re going to be.  You need to be comfortable with and embrace her friends, just as she should do the same with yours.  Knowing that my “new girlfriend” could survive an afternoon (more than 6 hours alone) in the gauntlet with my mostly single and untamed fraternity brothers while accompanying me to our first wedding together was an immediate sign this relationship was going places I never imagined.  Similarly, when I found myself texting her friends to get together for dinner while she was out of town for vacation, I realized it was game-over.  One of the things I’m most looking forward to is seeing these two crazy worlds collide in just a few months.  I’m not sure the world is ready for what’s to come.

5. Tell me when I’m being stupid. If you’re dating someone who tells you that you’re perfect all the time without exception – that person is a liar.  We’ve all have bad days, accidentally drank too much on a Thursday or sometimes get frustrated and accidentally hurt a friend’s feelings.  I think that’s part of life.  At least it’s part of mine.  It takes someone special to help you realize that you’ve goofed up and need to correct course, sometimes without even speaking those words.  It just as important to have someone in your corner who’s not unafraid to tell you that you’re being an a punk as it is to have someone pat your back when you’ve succeeded.

Five Facts from a Guy {about recognizing when you’ve found the right person} #9

Happy Five Facts Friday, friends!

This week, we're hearing from William, who just proposed to my cousin, Allie, last Friday :) I am so happy to call him her fiancé as I introduce him on my blog! He's sharing about how you know when you've found the one, which is especially timely in his life.

And, in case you've missed the other Five Facts from a Guy Friday posts, read them here.

{Allie & William live in Santa Monica, which is way, way too far away. But really fun to visit :)}

1. The truer you are to yourself, the closer you grow.  Everybody puts on a front in the early stages of dating and a relationship.  It’s only natural that you want to present the best version of yourself.  Over time you get more comfortable letting down your guard and showing your true colors.  With the right person, your weirdness and idiosyncrasies will bring you closer together.  Several previous posts have mentioned men want ladies to be true to themselves, to wear less makeup rather than more, to show us your weirdness.  In the right relationship, the more you let the other person in, the more intimacy you will build, and the more fun you will have together.

2. You need the same amount of each others' time, or at least understand your differences.  This one is huge.  A relationship that is unbalanced in terms of how much time each partner wants and needs to spend with the other will be immensely difficult.  A person’s need for their own time and space can vary dramatically, as can their need for time together with their significant other.  Needing your own time and space doesn’t mean you love the other person any less, but people sometimes need to be by themselves to collect their thoughts and recharge.  There is no worse feeling than thinking your partner doesn’t want to spend time with you, and that’s why this is such an important issue.  Understanding each other’s needs in these departments is crucial for a happy and fulfilling relationship where you can be comfortable in spending time together while also getting your important alone time to recharge.

3. You both work together for the relationship.  Let’s get super cliché here for a quick second.  Relationships are hard work, and it’s important that you are both working on the relationship together.  Some people have a tendency to get complacent in relationships.  I certainly have in the past.  But really, when a relationship is right, you both enjoy growing together, and that is not always a smooth process.  There will be bumps and challenges and obstacles along the way, and knowing that you have a teammate who will proactively work through these challenges with you makes these growing pains much more manageable and part of the adventure.  When you’ve found someone you work well with and you share the commitment to put in the work a relationship takes, you will find the things life throws at you that are pitfalls for other relationships become much smoother in yours.

4. Their people become your people and it’s awesome.  One of the most fun parts of a relationship is getting to know your partner through other people in their lives.  As a relationship progresses you meet the friends and the family and the high school friends and the extended family, and it’s a great way to discover all sorts of things you wouldn’t otherwise have known about that person.  When a relationship is right, this is a really fun process.  You feel your friend network double as you meet people for the first time who you’ve heard countless stories about and are fast friends.  You gain an extended family that cares for you and you think hopefully might not be as crazy as your own.  Who a person surrounds themselves with speaks volumes about that person, and being embraced by and embracing the people in your partner’s life is a wonderful feeling and a great sign you’ve found the right person.

5. The right person inspires you to be your best, for both of you.  Part of what makes relationships difficult is that we are constantly changing.  Interests and passions ebb and flow as do a person’s priorities.  This is a huge part of why relationships take work – to be sure they evolve with the changes to your personalities and lives together.  The right partner will challenge and inspire you to grow and excel outside of your comfort zone as your lives together grow.  You should return the favor by challenging and inspiring them, and also by striving to be your best so you can be the best possible partner.  At the end of the day, your relationship will be as strong as the two of you work to make it, and by challenging each other to be the best version of yourselves and committing to work towards this end, you will give your relationship the best chance to succeed.  If you’ve found a person who will share this commitment with you, never let them go!