These relationship secrets go against conventional wisdom, but “Cosmo” believes in shaking things up. Colleen Rush shares seven new rules for today's relationships:
Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Remember how much your life improved when you finally gave up super-low-rise jeans, dating only bad boys, and dial-up modems? Relationship experts say that ditching the following seven love rules can be just as liberating — maybe more.
Old rule: Don’t be a jealous girlfriend
“A lot of women think they’ll seem neurotic and needy if they act jealously,” says Susan Piver, author of “How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life.” So when, say, a chick flirts with their man, many women may decide just to grit their teeth and play it cool to prove how secure they are.
New rule: Act a little territorial
A couldn’t-care-less act can backfire, because “a total absence of jealousy can be seen by your guy as a sign that you aren’t invested in the relationship,” says David Buss, Ph.D., author of “The Dangerous Passion.” No, you can’t go all “Fatal Attraction” every time he comes into contact with another woman, but it is OK to casually point out specific things that irk you — like when a friend flirts with him or he repeatedly brings up a female co-worker you distrust.
Just keep the comments directed at the chick’s behavior so you don’t seem like you’re trying to control him. Examples: “I don’t like the way she was hanging all over you” or “Could she show any more cleavage?” Revealing your inner green demon — in moderation — is flattering because it lets him know that the threat of losing him disturbs you and it demonstrates a genuine desire to protect your bond.
Old rule: Never go to bed angry
You’re trained to talk, talk, talk it out when there’s tension in the air because you want a resolution.
New rule: Sleep on a problem
Heat-of-the-moment discussions can spiral out of control quickly. “When you force an issue, you blab without having thought out what you need to say, which increases the chance that you’ll both blurt out things you’ll regret later,” says Piver. And that’s doubly true if you’re tired. Sleeping on it first allows you to sort out what points are truly important. It also lets you decompress so that you’ll be calmer and more rational when you make your case. Just say, “I’m irritated and need time away.” It can be smart to acquiesce if he’s asking for a recess, too. Instead of insisting that you hash it out at that moment, schedule a time to readdress the issue. Saying “Let’s talk about this tomorrow after work” makes it clear that you intend to revisit the conversation ... and that he’s not off the hook.
“Most arguments lose their bite if you take some time out to think them through,” says Piver. “The next day, you’ll be able to talk about it without so much anger. And you fight, and move on without discussing it to death.”
Old rule: Crushing on other guys is cheating lite
Unlike men, who feel free to ogle away at chicks without the slightest sense of remorse, women have a tendency to overthink a fleeting flirtation or lusty attraction to other men. “Some women worry that they’re betraying their boyfriends or that it’s a sign that something is wrong in their relationship,” says Cleveland clinical psychologist Joseph Rock, Psy.D. The end result is that you get all the guilt of an illicit affair without any of the fun.
New rule: An innocent fantasy can fuel your love life
The juiced-up feeling you get from a clandestine crush can be good for your existing twosome. The reason? You start to feel like that foxy, flirtatious single girl you used to be (the one your man found so irresistibly hot), and he reaps the benefits of your reawakened excitement.
Look, sexual chemistry with other people is normal, and feeling guilty about a crush is an exercise in futility. Says Rock: “Just because you are attracted to someone else — even if you’re fantasizing about him — doesn’t mean you’re going to act on it.” As long as you don’t cross the line and turn your fantasy into reality, it’s OK to stop censoring your lusty thoughts and start enjoying them.
Old rule: Always try to wow him in the sack
Since you’re a hot “Cosmo” girl, you likely spend a lot of time cooking up ways to blow your guy’s mind between the sheets, which, to be clear, is a very good thing. The danger begins if you focus on pleasing him to the point where you don’t get your own O-zone needs met. “Women sometimes have a hard time articulating what they want, particularly in bed,” says Rock. “They tend to be too selfless because they’re more comfortable giving to their partner than taking from him.”
New rule: Be selfish between the sheets
Men pride themselves on being able to get you off, so even though it seems like a giving nature would provide him with the ultimate gratification, you’ll actually erode his sexual ego over time if he thinks your toes aren’t curling, too. “If you’re not satisfied, you both end up unhappy,” says Rock. The solution is easy, even if you’re too shy to say outright what you like: Use moans to let him know what turns you on or just demonstrate where and how you want to be touched.
Old rule: You have to share all the same interests
Some couples mistakenly think that being on the same page — and being close — means taking an active interest in all of each other’s pastimes.
New rule: Solo time boosts your bond
If you love snowboarding and so does, he, great. Bur forcing yourself to participate in his random hobbies dilutes your interactions. You get bored and ask him lots of questions, and he feels uncomfortable because he knows you’re not really interested. Conversely, pressuring him to take part in your extracurriculars will just make him resentful.
Old rule: Don’t fall all over him
You think he’ll gag if you throw your arms around his neck and tell him every little thing you love about him. Besides, you’ve been together long enough that he knows how you feel … or think.
New rule: Give in to your mushy side
One of the side effects of being nuts about a guy is the occasional overwhelming urge to lavish him with affection and act like, you know, a girl. Don’t hold back! Show him how much he rocks your world. “A guy needs and wants to be reminded again and again why you love him,” says couples therapist Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., author of “Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First).” Men might not admit that they’re into the romance stuff, but that difference is actually part of your allure in the first place. Give up on gushing and he may miss seeing that feminine trait.
Though you want to reaffirm your affection for him, don’t go too far overboard. The kind of things he’ll dig: Kiss his face all over, start lots of sentences with “I love it when you …,” or call him the pet name you gave him when you first started dating. Tell him he’s the barbecue/hard drive-debugger/bed-making master when he does something for you, or pine away for the things he does best when he’s not around (“I wish you were here to rub my back”).
Even if the comment seems minor, “the extra dose of loving is what keeps the feelings you have for each other stoked,” says Turndorf.
Old rule: Act like Miss Independent
By insisting on carrying the heavy suitcase, fixing your own cable box, and opening every jar of pickles, you’re proving what a strong, modern woman you are, right? Well …
New rule: Let him be your Superman
“Men are certainly attracted to independent women, but if you’re completely self-sufficient, they feel kind of useless,” says Rock. Obviously, if it’s a task that’s faster and easier for you to do yourself, you should go for it. But give him the ego boost of letting him do the things he’s particularly good at, whether it’s making his killer mushroom risotto, lugging your groceries upstairs with that much-vaunted male upper-body strength, or just driving in the snow.
“Men need to be protectors and providers, and they’re action-oriented,” says Turndorf. “Doing things for you is how he expresses his love.” So let him, already!
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