Thursday, February 09, 2012

Love Lounge: What would you include in your relationship agreement?

Confession: I'm not very good at spontaneity, though you've probably already figured that out by now. Frankly, flying by the seat of my pants, especially when it comes to falling in love, terrifies me. Maybe that's why I can identify so much with new lovebird Amy and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. They, like me, have no idea what they're doing, so they draft a little Relationship Agreement to help them navigate these new dating waters -- some relationship dos and don'ts, if you will. A job description with a romantic twist. They define, on paper, their relationship, so that both are on the same page (pun intended...).

It got me thinking: Would that really translate to real life? Could you really take something so intangible like love and put neat little parameters around it? I'm not quite sure, but there are some things I'm certain would go on my Relationship Agreement...
*Neither party shall go to bed angry.

*Hand holding is discouraged in public.

*All date cancellations must be made at least one day before date was supposed to take place.

*All dates must be made at least a week in advance. Time, location and date activity must be agreed upon by both parties.

*When either party falls ill, he/she shall be showered with chicken soup and the movie of his/her choice.


Bottom line: Planning is romantic in its own way. It shows you care enough about the other person to invest a large part of yourself into making the relationship work. After all, you wouldn't make a Relationship Agreement with just anyone. It's reserved for those special people who you really feel a connection with -- those people you can see yourself with in the future. And that's a pretty special thing, if you ask me.

When I find myself in that first relationship someday, like Sheldon, I may not know what I'm doing, but I do know one thing. I'll be armed with my own version of a Relationship Agreement. Pen included.
So, tell me, friends, do you think a Relationship Agreement is unrealistic in real life? Would it even work? What sorts of things would you include in your list? Do you think men and women would put different things at the top of their lists? And for fun, what TV couple do you identify with the most? xoxo

25 comments:

  1. Ah, Melissa, this is sweet. And I'm monitoring Syrian news so I can't answer all your questions. But I have to say that when already in a relationship, it's not that easy to stick with rules like the cancellation & making of dates. A week is a bit too much. Maybe very early on. But when already in a relationship (vs dating), I'd ease up on that...

    xoxo

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  2. I agree with Giulia. Plans can change and if you love each other you understand (if it's reasonable). And spontaneous dates are wonderful.

    Handholding in public would be ENCOURAGED on my list.

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  3. Oh I don't think this would work for my husband and I. I mean now that we have a baby, we have to schedule more...but I wouldn't say it's super strict.
    That sickness one makes me giggle a little. :)

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  4. why no handholding!?

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  5. oh man...I am not sure if this would work for my husband and me, even when we first started dating. I know you said you're not spontaneous, but this KILLS any possibility! And we like going with the flow. I bet the longer you date someone, the less you would follow the rules anyway.

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  6. Ooh, I think this would be far, far too rigid for me. I'm a great fan of spontaneity. Still, if it works for you and your partner, why not? x

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  7. these are good points...i'm guessing everything would change once i was actually in the relationship.

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  8. i HATE going to bed angry!

    is this a woman thing, to have things sorted out before we go to sleep...

    so that we can sleep?

    i love sheldon! :)

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  9. I think the other thing to keep in mind is that this is a comedy with exaggerated characters. The fact that these two have a relationship contract is supposed to be ludicrous and ridiculous--something only these two would do because they're weird. I've never met anyone who has had such a thing. It's more like a conversation. It may start with a question like "Do you like to plan dates in advance or do you like to be spontaneous?" It might be a response to an invitation out and you say you're busy and suggest scheduling a couple of days in advance. Take this bit of advice from an old married lady with a lot of dating experiences in her past. Relationships are not static entities. They change and they're about giving and taking and negotiating at the beginning and throughout. You say you love to talk and express yourself and ask questions. That's all you need--not an official agreement. And you know what, relationship counselors will say that setting expectations and having conversations are the best way to have a fun healthy relationship. So part of the plan is great and you'll rock at it. The rigidity is something you may have to work on. Your agreement doesn't even leave room for a scheduled Valentine's date at a surprise location lovingly planned by your significant other. This is just some stuff to think about. Either way, I wish you the best.

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  10. Gasp! Hand-holding in public is definitely encouraged on my list. It's the one kind of PDA I'm cool with, lol. Plus, my bf and I apparently look alike, so we need something to show we're not brother and sister, lol. But I so agree with not going to bed angry. And ditto to everyone above. I'm such a planner/control freak but I got a serious reality check being with my bf, who's way more relaxed and easy going. 3+ years with a different personality type, and life's random surprises, and you learn to take things as they come.

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  11. Hmm...I agree with SOME! I've learned that it's actually better to separate and go to bed upset--hard to think when exhausted and overwhelmed. A little sleep and time apart brings perspective.
    A week ahead of time for a date? Spontaneity, my friend, is the spice of relationships! :-)

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  12. Ah if only relationships were this simple:) I suspect that when you find yourself in love and sharing your life with someone the things on this list will seem like small potatoes. I think far more complex issues will need to be agreed upon. Like, what city do we want to settle in? How do we want to budget our money? Do we want kids? If so, how do we want to raise them? How do we split holidays with our families? And so on.

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  13. Something tells me when you actually are smitten and in those first stages of a relationship you won't mind too much if the guy you like gets last minute tickets to a concert or just found out he doesn't have to work late that night and wants to see you. And you'll also understand when he calls to tell you that his best friend just got dumped or that his cousin came to town unexpectedly at he has to postpone your date. Life happens, and what shows the strength of a couple is how they navigate what it throws at them together, in the moment, not whether they follow all the rules.

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  14. You didn't answer the question....WHY no hand-holding in public? Have you ever seen a Mommy firmly grip her toddler's hand as they cross a busy street? What about a blind person who tentatively slips his hand in another's to safely navigate the unseen world? Have you ever seen an elderly couple clasp hands tightly as they shuffle along in a world that they no longer can keep pace with? Having someone's hand to hold represents security, trust and love. You make it sound like it's something to be ashamed of! Once again, I think you've devoted way too much thought as to how you think things are supposed to play out in your fantasy world of love and relationships. You simply cannot write a manual for dealing with matters of the heart.

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  15. i'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. to have so many rules, to me, takes out all the fun that comes with the spur of the moment. why no hand holding in public though? it's not like hand holding is PDA overload - it's one of the simplest things you can do to show your connection to each other. i have a feeling when you're with a guy you're going to let go of most of these rules. when you're totally falling for a guy, you want to see him asap, not wait another week. you'll see! :)

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  16. never thought of an agreement list but i don't think it would work because we're so different... we see things so differently... we are more analytical and they are so simple that it's not even funny to understand... I don't think besides the "don't cheat or else" i'd leave things flow and have a good fight in the meantime... ha!

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  17. As a vegan, the phrase, "showered with chicken soup," really skeeved me out. I mean, I know it wasn't meant that way, but I pictured being hosed down concentration-camp-style with dead-animal chunks in broth. Oddly, it was the kind with star-shaped noodles in it. Weird.

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  18. My gf and I were completely compatible, not alike personality-wise but we complimented each other. We didn't finish each others sentences but we always knew what the other was thinking.

    I can relate to Mo because we looked like siblings. It was frequently commented on while we were together. I used to joke that my mother had an affair with her father and she joked that her mother had an affair with my father. It didn't earn us any points with our parents but it was really funny.

    Planning was essential because of our careers. More than once I had to cancel at the last minute because of a pressing matter at work. Sometimes she would come to my work with food so we can have dinner together even if it was just Chinese takeout on my desk.

    I agree with Patty that you don't have to settle arguments right then and there. A good night sleep is better than negotiating while exhausted. Get this... we never had a major fight. We hardly had minor ones. When I think back, I can't remember any of them. Only once did I raise my voice to her.

    Unfortunately, our story does not have a happy ending. We broke our engagement because we couldn't agree to all the points in our pre-nup. Talk about a relationship agreement!

    I try to look on the bright side of things. I'm glad I know what I know now rather than be surprised if we were to divorce.

    No one goes into marriage with the intent to divorce. Since about half of all marriages dissolve, its something that should be considered. Besides, I had significant assets I wanted to protect. And she too.

    I strayed off point. I do have one. Bottom line: lighten up. And hold hands.

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  19. The hand holding is another rule you may need to give up on at some point in a relationship. Everyone has quirks and differences and if both people in a relationship make hard and fast rules around these quirks it's going to really limit your ability to be yourself. For example, I hate when people wipe away my tears when I cry. I know it's viewed as something affectionate and caring, but I can't stand it. My husband does this pretty much every time I cry, even though he knows I don't like it. He does it because it is to him such a basic reaction you have when someone you love is sad and crying. Making a rule not to do it would feel a little like I'm making a rule that he's not allowed to react in his own way when I'm upset. Just like making a rule to not hold hands would probably be frustrating to a guy who views holding hands as the most basic way to show someone you're there for them. Rules only work for things that are logical and straight forward, and the most wonderful thing about love is that it is neither logical or straight forward.

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  20. Wow...it looks like this post hit the spot, right? I do think that in a relationship you have to be very open about what you don't like, and why. Communication is the key! I saw that BBT episode and it's lovely...it's a bit exagerated, but I think that's a great way to get the point accross. If you have a minute, I would like to have your opinion about a subjet I blogged about few days ago, and that it's kind of related to this:

    http://cafesocietyxxi.blogspot.com/2012/02/after-forgiving-and-forgettingsomeone.html

    Bisous!

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  21. Have to agree with all the others who say that relationships and dating should be much more spontaneous and open to change. Others here had some really good reasons for why expecting to know the exact details of your date one week in advance is a little bit unrealistic. BUT, at the same time, as a woman with a disability myself, I understand how some planning and foresight is needed. Is the place that he wants to take you accessible? How will you get there if his vehicle isn't accessible? How would you go to his house or friends' houses if they aren't accessible? I get all of that, but I think that in time, those things will work themselves out. If he is the right one, your partner will know how to plan for these things himself, so much so that when he says "I have this special place that I want to take you!" you'll trust that he's been thoughtful about location, accessibility etc. I also know that fatigue, pain, medication schedules are sometimes a reality for people with disabilities (raises hand) and so getting a phone call at 9pm saying "Let's go out!" is not such a great idea, espedcially if you have just swallowed your sleep and pain meds.
    As for the hand holding thing, I can't understand your objection to that. It's as sign of affection, sedurity, warmth and friendliness. It's also his way of saying to the world, "This gal is with me! How lucky am I?"
    Try to loosen up on your expectations a little bit. I'm not sure that being so rigid and unbending is emotionally healthy, or even attractive. Beyond the practical things like accessibility, arranging personal care ahead of time (dressing, hair, etc), let go of such tight scheduling. I did and I found the man of my dreams 17 years ago.

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  22. Great responses! I suppose it's more PDAs that I'm adverse to as opposed to hand holding.

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  23. i don't really know if a relationship agreement would really work? just because, i know that my man and I started our relationship with telling each other a few things that we would always uphold. but now, years later, our relationship has totally evolved so much that i'm not sure we do the same things now as we did then. and yes, men and women totally have different priorities on their lists! :)

    Sharde
    the style projects

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  24. I kind liked the fly by the seat of my pants part! I found it one of the perks of dating later in life. I had no idea what to expect.

    Not going to bed angry is a very good one. My boyfriend told me one of the things he loves most about our relationship is that even when I am angry with him (which is rare) he knows I still love him. It's very true. i think we take that for granted with family members - that an arguement isn't permanent damage - but to have that in a relationship is great.

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  25. fabulous stuff!!!! Sheldon is absolutely freaky madman, and I love it)))

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xoxo

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