Whether you plan a long relationship or a short partnership, you want your family to approve of bae. Get your family on board.

The disapproving in-laws have been a cliché for a very, very long time.

If you searched through ancient Greek scrolls or Mesopotamian clay tablets, you’d probably find a joke or two about someone’s hypercritical mother-in-law. It’s natural for parents to be protective of their offspring, and not surprising when those urges carry over well into a child’s adulthood.

Even though it’s understandable, that over-protective nature can be a relationship killer, both for the parents’ relationship with their child and the child’s relationship with their significant other. There comes a time to let go and allow children the agency to make their own decisions. Some parents never really learn that.

You want your parents to like your S.O., so it makes sense to do your best to bring them together. Or at least tolerate each other. Here’s how to help your parents find the potential in bae:

Talk to them.

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Your parents might have unfounded reasons for disliking your significant other, but you won’t know unless you ask.

Sit down with them and say, “It seems like you don’t really care for my partner. Is there something you want to discuss?” Maybe they’re concerned your boyfriend can’t hold a job for more than a few months, or that your girlfriend never tries to initiate a conversation with them. Before you can fix their relationship, you have to learn why it’s strained.

Examine their reasons.

Sometimes parents have a unique way of sensing a bad relationship before it sours. Maybe they see something you can’t, or have a gut feeling stemming from years of life experience.

Before you write off their attitude towards your significant other, consider things from their point of view. Is there truth to what they’re saying? Are you glossing over unsavory aspects of your partner’s character? Talk to some close friends and get their opinion, as they can lend some perspective to the situation.

Nip it in the bud.

Parents often come around after a while, but sometimes those attitudes take root and are hard to change. “My spouse and I have been married for over 30 years, and my parents-in-law (now in their 80s) are still not sure this relationship is going to work out,” said blogger Doug Nordman of The Military Guide. Try to talk to your parents as soon as possible, before their ideas can solidify. Talking to them early on might not eradicate the problem, but at least you can make it clear that their disapproval hurts you.

Try to talk to your parents as soon as possible, before their ideas can solidify. Talking to them early on might not eradicate the problem, but at least you can make it clear that their disapproval hurts you.

Plus, getting to them early allows you to point out the potential in bae. You can help them see the good aspects of your partner.

Step in.

Whoever has the problematic parents should take responsibility to curb inappropriate behavior when it happens. If your mother starts questioning your wife about how much she’s working or how she cooks, it’s up to you to step in. It’s easier for parents to listen to their child than their child’s spouse, and it will reassure your spouse that you have their back.

You have to be a team. As long as your partnership lasts, it’s vital that you present a united front.

Limit contact.

Until your parents change their behavior, you might have to limit how often you see, speak with, or visit them. Limiting contact is one of the few ways you can prove how hurt you are, and how seriously you take your relationship. This can be done for an indefinite amount of time, or until the parents in question agree to make amends with your partner — or at least attempt to see the potential in bae.

Be respectful, but firm.

Anytime you disagree with your parents, whether it’s about the person you’re dating or where you’re going for dinner that night, you should be polite but firm.

Snide comments or rude behavior will only make you look like a child throwing a fit. Try to stay calm, don’t raise your voice and keep your argument succinct. The more mature you act, the more seriously your parents will take you. Take the high road even if they start making personal attacks.

Remember how it feels.

Nordman said he and his wife are still hurt by her parents’ disapproval of their relationship, but they’ve used that lesson to be supportive of their daughter and her spouse.

Parents, he said, should never get a vote on if your significant other is good enough. “If that significant other is important to the happiness of their adult children, then parents should be glad that their child has found happiness and maybe even love,” he said.

Live life on your own terms.

If you’ve done everything you can to resolve the rift, then it’s time to stop worrying about what your parents think.

You can only change someone’s mind if they’re willing to let their opinion change – not a common trait in older generations.

Nordman said three decades of fighting with his in-laws has been painful, but it’s taught him to not worry about what they think. “Humans want the love and support of our parents, and estrangement is painful,” he said. “We deal with it by reminding ourselves that it’s their problem, not ours.”

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Looking for love, sex, or intimacy? It all starts with a first date. Don’t screw this up.

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There are few things in life as nerve-wracking as a first date.

Could this person be The One? What if you mess up and say something stupid? What if it’s a complete disaster and you just don’t connect with the other person?

Any first date can be fun when you approach it with an open mind and try not to put too much into it. Even if you don’t find true love, you might be able to make a new friend. And that’s worth trying to make a good impression.

Take a deep breath. Step back. It’s time to explore the world of dating.

Concepts

  • Why do we to on dates?
  • The difference between being genuine and being a pickup artist.
  • Understanding boundaries.
  • Tips on things you can do to make a good impression on a first date.
  • Things to avoid on a first date.
  • The importance of following up if you are interested.No game-playing.
  • How to decide when it’s time to friend each other on Facebook.
  • What to do if things don’t work out like you hope.

“Do Nows” this week are all about taking action to get started. We talk about setting up an online dating profile and scouting good first date locations in your town. Also, make sure you do a little self-reflection to ensure that you are comfortable with yourself.

This week’s listener has cold feet about a potential first date. What happens when you think you might want to back out?

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Scientific Guide to a First Date

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Sometimes those LTRs sneak up on you. Here’s how to tell it’s time to stop wasting everyone’s time and just commit to your S.O.

The event horizon between every STR and LTR is as awkward as a prepubescent’s first kiss.

The duel inside each person pondering “do I like them” and “do they like me” makes Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance seem sane.

The time comes in all relationships when each must decide if theirs is a temporary or long-term ride.

How does one know when it’s time to commit to being two? Here are eight ways to tell when you and your S.O. should gel.

When your laundry detergent and fabric softener have moved in together.

More often than not, do your clothes take a spin together? When it’s no longer necessary to go home to do laundry and to own four gallons of concentrated detergent, there’s a good chance it’s time to commit to sticking together. If you’re washing each other’s unmentionables, there must be a reason you’re clinging together.

When the only vegetable in your fridge is mold.

When your home fridge is as bare as a frat house fridge, and the only thing inside that’s not questionably nuclear is your Arm & Hammer, it may be time to unplug your ice box. That Sriracha sauce must be able to survive time eternal, so grab it, cancel your electric, and take your security deposit to your new life of “we,” “ours” and “us.”

You’re cooking most meals together anyway.

When the water in your toilet has evaporated and left a ring.

Has it been so long since you did a Number One or a Number Two in your own bathroom that there’s a ring around the bowl? It’s time to sublet, sell, or cancel. Your exit plan is becoming a waste and it’s time to shit or get off the pot (all puns intended).

When your pet has moved to your S.O.’s.

If your pet has packed their bags and moved in with your S.O., it’s time for you to do so. Your dog can’t stand a minute without you, and your cat pretends they don’t care if you’re there, but both want you around. If your partner sees you more frequently than your best friend, bring everyone together and become a happy family.

When your apartment looks like a wheat farm.

If your once green and luscious plants look like they’re one mill from a cereal bowl, it’s time to transplant yourself with your someone else. Even the hardiest of plants get sad without some TLC once or twice a week. Don’t let your plants die. Consolidate them with your S.O. and make your single home homier.

Everyone wins. Especially the plants.

When your mailbox looks like your inbox.

When your postal box has as much mail as your email inbox, and the post office wants to charge you rent, it’s time to pick an address. Let’s face it, keeping that Plan B is costing you time and money. Save time and money and live with your honey.

You start saying “let’s go home” instead of “let’s go to your place.”

When you act like you have one place but still have two, it’s time to make a move. We have so many decisions to make each day that we often self-select which decisions to make and not make. When decisions about here or there, together or separate disappear, you may have unintentionally picked an L/T S.O.

Your mom knows where to send the Christmas card.

When even your mom knows you won’t receive your Christmas card before President’s Day if she uses the same address as the IRS does, it’s time to commit to your S.O. and update the P.O.

Others can often see something about us better than we can. If your friends and family see you as more permanent than temporary, it may be time to commit.

Committing to an LTR is sometimes scary, but if any of these or other quirks suggest your LTR is your reality, update your relationships status on Facebook and in your head and put in 100%.

Life is too short for 50% and maybes. When you give your relationships your all, you’ll see how much your relationship has to give. Only then will you learn if your long-term thing will be a forever thing.

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Liking your BFF’s post on Facebook isn’t the same thing as sitting down and talking to them. Get out there and connect with the people in your life.

Sometimes it feels like there is not enough time in the day to manage your own life. Let alone dealing with maintaining healthy friendships.

Scroll through your Facebook and look at your real life friends. You know the ones who held your hair back after you drank too much after the last break up. Just Facebooking those friends on occasion with a Like or a comment is not enough to keep those ties strong.

In super-connnected, cyber life that we lead, it has become easier and easier to slip into habits that change a deep and long-standing friendship into something that’s a bit superficial and hashtagable.
For those of us who take adulting seriously, we understand the importance of maintaining and nurturing the people in our life even though life often feels like it’s conspiring to keep friends apart. It’s important to remain close to friends as you move through life.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get your friendships back on track here are some simple and effective strategies that re-ignite a waning friendship:

Prioritize your friendships.

This feels so obvious, but prioritizing your friendships will create a willingness to put in the work needed to maintain the most important relationships in your life.

I wish that I could tell you that good friendships are easy to nurture, but they’re not. Friends get married, kids arrive, people get dogs, go into debt. Basically, life freaking happens and throws a metaphorical wrench into every relationship that you’re in.

As an adult not only do you have to prioritize the relationships that you’re in, you also have to figure out what “season” your friendship is in.

Sometimes you’re at the end of a wonderful friendship and it’s time to let go of that person and move on. There are other moments in a friendship when you may end up taking a break for a while but are able to reconnect later on with very little effort. Recognizing the stage that your friendship is currently in will help you to prioritize which friendships you should really be focusing on.

It can help you remain close to friends that match where you’re at right now.

Plan friend dates.

This may sound weird, but plan friend dates.

Sometimes friends get into habits that doom their friendship. If you’re always doing the same things, switch it up.

Instead of happy hour, participate in a Graffiti Run, compete against one another on opposing trivia teams, go to a corn maze, or check out your town in a way that is different from what you usually do when you hang out together. Remember, variety is the spice of life (and friendships too).

You might be surprised at how these dates can help you remain close to friends that matter most. It’s all about making time for the important people in your life.

Travel with friends.

Travel together or visit another if your friends live far from you.

My best friend, who basically is my sister from another mister, is English. She lives in London, is married and has kids. This friendship is a priority to both of us, but the reality is that our realities have changed and we live far away from one another.

Because of this, we prioritize visiting one another either in the States or in Europe. We’ve traveled together numerous times throughout the years and many of out trips resemble The Hangover movies. Even though she has kids.

When you travel with friends, the roles that exist in your “real” lives cease to exist. How can they when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and freaked out about the locals who have decided to help you out?

Create new memories with your friends that are special and specific to experiences that only you’ve experienced together (like a trip).

What happens when you have kids?

I love kids, but many people aren’t excited about them. Figuring out how to remain close to friends after they start having mini-humans is one of the big challenges of life.

When your friends begin having kids that may signal a huge change in how you interact.

After living in Europe, I have a very different view on interacting with friends with kids. Kids are always welcome. I make it clear to my friends that I’m flexible (because one day I will have kids too) and what I’ve found is that by being flexible I’m able to see my friends more.

I’ve also noticed that many of these friends suggest kids free events because they aren’t just parents. They’re people, too, and sometimes they need a break.

Be up front with your friends.

Finally, be clear about what you want from your friends.

Communicate what you expect from people in your life. They’re not mind-readers.  If you’re not clear about what you want from your friends, you’re setting yourself (and them) up for failure. If you’re fine seeing someone every once in awhile because you have work, kids, a spouse and extended family, go ahead and own it.

If you’re the type of person who needs a lot more one on one time with friends create opportunities to connect that are easy wins for everyone. Have realistic expectations of how the friendship should flow and remember to be kind with one another.

In an increasingly cyber world, it’s becoming obvious that it’s important to deepen our “in real life” friendships.

There’s no substitute for the real thing.

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You’re a grown-ass adult. So why do your parents treat you like you’re still a kid? You need to set some boundaries ASAP.

Are you tired of your parents always butting in?

Do they ask prying questions? Tell you how you should be doing things? Insist that you should dump that loser boyfriend/girlfriend? Let you know that you’re doing it all wrong with your own kids?

You love your parents, but they seem to be popping in with surprising frequency at your home. And, my goodness, do they really have to guilt you into spending every holiday and every celebration with them?

There’s no reason for that business.

While you’ll always be your parents’ child, the fact of the matter is that you are also a grown-ass adult and you have your own life and your own values. Your parents shouldn’t be steamrolling you.

It’s time to establish boundaries. For the good of your relationship.

How it helps your relationship to establish boundaries.

You probably want to maintain a good relationship with your parents. If so, you need to establish boundaries. Stat.

Interestingly, boundaries in romantic relationships actually help the situation. That principle also applies to other, non-romantic relationships as well. Boundaries can help you feel safe.

Plus, think about how much you hate it when your parents are too pushy and interfering. Don’t you resent them a bit afterward? Are you reluctant to see or talk to them in the future? That’s not good for your relationship.

Establish boundaries that are healthy and that work, and you will be happier to interact with your parents and your relationship will improve. It’s important to understand this as you move forward.

Remember: you’re coming from a place of love and you want to strengthen the relationship.

Good relationships aren’t about being inseparable and being up in each other’s business all the time. All healthy relationships require space for individuals and room to be yourself and make choices.

Figure out your boundaries.

You can’t just rush in and tell your parents that you hate what they’re doing. Especially when you aren’t exactly sure what your boundaries are, or why you’re upset.

So, take some time to yourself. Think about what has been bothering you, and dig into why it’s been bothering you. What can you live with? What can’t you abide at all? What have you been arguing about?

This is about constant demands for time or things that you can’t or don’t want to give. Or perhaps it’s about constant discussions about topics you wish were off limits, like your S.O., how you parent your kids, or your weight.

It’s one thing for your parents to offer you a bit of advice and let it go. My own parents have expressed things to me in the past. However, my parents are awesome examples of how to give space to their adult children. They said their piece in a loving way, and, satisfied that they had fulfilled the dictates of conscience, never pushed the issue again.

Sometimes you need your parents’ input. So carefully think about the boundaries, and why you’re setting them. Once you have that down, you can draw the line.

Be clear about what’s off-limits.

If your parents consistently do things that you find intrusive, demanding, and inappropriate, you need to be clear about what’s off-limits.

“I’m sorry that you feel that way about [insert boo’s name here], but I really like our relationship. I won’t talk negatively about it or him/her, and I won’t tolerate you saying bad things, either.”

“I understand that you don’t like how I handle discipline, but our family is doing what works for us, and I’d appreciate you not telling my kids that I’m not doing it right.”

“I love talking to you, but I also need to be able to rest for work, so I’d appreciate it if we could limit call times to an hour.”

Express empathy, and be polite and calm. Let your parents know you care. You can even thank them.

“Oh, thank you for inviting us. However, we have other arrangements for that night. We’ll see you another time.”

If they keep pressing, you can say something like, “We enjoy spending time with you, but we also have other obligations. We appreciate invitations and hope we are always welcome. However, we also don’t want to feel guilty if we can’t make it. Please know we will come when we can.”

In most cases, when you establish boundaries this way, your parents will respect that. Unless they are totally toxic people. But that’s another problem.

Stick to your boundaries.

Of course, once you establish boundaries, you need to stick to them. That means you need to walk away if the line is being crossed.

This is easiest to do when you’re on the phone. If your parents are pressuring you to come to a family event, but you have already said you aren’t coming, and expressed that you don’t like the guilt trips, you can just say, “I’m sorry, but we’ve talked about this. I love you, and I need to go.” And then you hang up.

That phrase works for just about everything, whether you’ve said you don’t want to talk about your S.O., your parenting style, or your job prospects.

It’s harder in person because you have to say that and then either stare them down or leave the room. But stick to it. If you have to leave, do so. Eventually, your parents will get the hint and start respecting your boundaries.

This is especially true when you have kids. There are times I think my parents’ amazing restraint and boundary-respecting comes from the fact that they don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize their ability to see their grandchildren.

I don’t have to say anything to my parents, or threaten to withhold my son. They just assume that if they make things unpleasant for me, I’ll visit less — and that means less face time with their eldest grandchild.

You have to give, too.

When you establish boundaries, it’s important to give as well. Know what you are willing to give. Maybe instead of coming on Christmas, you share dessert on Christmas Eve.

My ex and I had a firm policy of not going anywhere on Christmas. So our holiday visits were made the week between Christmas and New Year. Interestingly, my son and I still spend Christmas with my ex — and we still spend the Christmas Day just us, and then go visit the ex-laws afterward.

Figure out how you can remain positive and give, even as you set up boundaries. This can include saying something like, “I love to talk to you, but talking every day is starting to impact my school work. Can we talk every Sunday morning?”

Offering positivity, love, and a compromise is a way to establish boundaries while still maintaining the relationship. Once you start doing that, your parents will start treating you more like an adult, and everyone will be happier.

What’s your biggest challenge when setting boundaries? Share your struggles or your tips that others can use in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Ready to take things to the next level with your S.O.? Not until you have the money talk. You need to make this happen.

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Any relationship requires work. There are plenty of situations that can stress you out. But nothing quite matches the stress that comes when you talk money with your boo.

Are you ready for that talk? Do you know what you will say? And how can you make it less stressful and contentious for everyone involved?

Concepts

  • How we handle money reflects our values.
  • Why it’s so hard to talk money with your S.O.
  • The ways money goes beyond just spender vs. saver.
  • Different styles of money management.
  • How to pinpoint what matters most to you.
  • Tips for setting the tone before you talk money with bae.
  • Suggestions for money topics you should be discussing.
  • When it’s time to start talking about money.
  • How to gauge your partner’s money values before you talk money.
  • The importance of setting shared financial goals.
  • Tips for setting time to talk money so that you are both more likely to be open and willing.
  • What to do if things get too heated during the discussion

Our “do nows” this week focus on actually getting the money talk taken care of. Figure out your own money values, review your financial situation, and schedule a time to talk money with your S.O.

This week’s listener question deals with someone not really ready to trust bae with joint accounts. We look at the pros and cons of granting your S.O. access to your money.

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Fighting with your S.O. and constantly exchanging verbal barbs is a quick way to a short, unhappy relationship. Get beyond that.

Relationships are all about communication.

Deep bonds don’t form from nothing. They’re a result of a continuing exchange of ideas, emotions, and synergistic thinking. Even people who don’t share a common language can find ways to meaningfully interact.

If communicating is central to forming relationships, why is it so damn hard? The fact is, human minds are so unique that finding common ground can be like putting together a puzzle without a picture of the finished product.

That’s why long-term relationships are so special. When you spend enough time with someone, you can start to see how your personalities fit together harmoniously – or not so harmoniously. Sometimes you can see that the puzzle pieces fit, but struggle to put them together.

Ready to get beyond the drama? Here are some ideas for solving communication problems with your significant other.

Aim to understand.

One of the most frustrating moments in a fight is when one or both people aren’t listening to the other. It’s impossible to solve a disagreement if you’re not trying to see your partner’s point of view.

Your goal during an argument should be to understand your partner better and find some common ground. Learning how your partner thinks and feels is the key to a closer bond.

Too often, we treat the situation as if the goal is winning. Once you’re in that mindset, you both end up losers.

Solution: When your partner is talking during a fight, concentrate on what they’re saying and not how you want to respond. No matter how inane or illogical you think their argument is, try to listen before you say anything.

Let your guard down.

Getting defensive is a natural response if your partner brings up a difficult topic.

Does anyone really feel comfortable discussing something difficult, even with the person they love?

But defensiveness can close you off from the conversation. Instead of hearing what your partner is saying, you’ll only hear your skewed interpretation of what they really mean. If your husband tells you, “You forgot to take out the trash again,” you might hear, “You’re so irresponsible and don’t do enough around the house.”

Solution: Don’t project your own feelings onto what your partner is saying. It’s not fair to assume you know what they’re saying, and it can only lead to more discord.

When your partner is talking, listen to only what they’re saying. Get away from what you’re feeling. If you need to, repeat it back to them so you clearly understand. Then, calmly respond to the statement they made or question they asked.

Don’t use “all or nothing” language.

When trying to win an argument, you want to present the strongest case possible. But you have to stick to the facts. If you exaggerate or overstate something, it’s hard for the other person to take you seriously.

It’s also unfair to generalize your partner’s behavior as all-around bad. Behavior exists on a gray spectrum, and living in a black-and-white world during a fight reduces their actions to a trope.

Plus, you shouldn’t be trying to “win” anyway. This should be an exchange of ideas with the intent to understand.

Solution: Don’t use words like “always” and “never” in an argument. It’s easy for your significant other to argue against that, because there’s always an exception. Those types of words can and will make them make feel defensive. 

Solving communication problems is about helping each other understand, not forcing each other into semantic battles.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Communicating with your significant other is like taking out the trash. If you wait until the bag is overfilled, it’s harder to get it out the container. You find yourself wishing you’d dealt with it sooner.

When you get upset at your partner, bring it up that day. If you wait, the issue can fester and rot like the trash in my analogy. The sooner you broach the issue, the less upset you’ll be.

Solution: Bringing problems is hard to do and easy to avoid. Practice saying something beforehand so you feel more confident in your message.

You can try writing a script before you talk to your partner, or ask a friend how you could better phrase the issue. After doing this a few times, you’ll see that mentioning something in the beginning is much easier than waiting until you’re ready to explode.

Avoid name-calling.

Some people assume it doesn’t matter what they say in the heat of the moment as long as they apologize for it later. But apologies are like knee replacements: they temporarily fix the problem but don’t erase the damage.

Name-calling can be tempting when you’re in a screaming match, but doing so can lead to hurt feelings and resentment that isn’t so temporary. Your partner might never really forget the day you called her a stupid bitch.

This does nothing when it comes to solving communication problems.

Solution: If staying cool during a fight is too hard, take a walk alone and collect your thoughts. If your partner name-calls, don’t try to one up their comment. Use that moment to explain that you don’t appreciate what they said, or find it helpful.

It’s never easy to work through these issues. However, if you want a better relationship, solving communication problems with your partner is vital. Otherwise, you end up in a situation where you end up with someone you hate — or you break up to get away from the problems.

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