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11 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your First Relationship

11 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your First Relationship

If only we could be young again! Young and in love but with the knowledge we have now. Oh, to have that perspective! My first real relationship was quite a doozy, with a lot of mistakes made, so I am going to address this article to my younger self before I started dating boys. If you have not yet entered your first relationship, please read this to better prepare yourself for what is to come.

1. Only you can define yourself.

You are not defined by your boyfriend or girlfriend. A person needs to be confident of him or herself before entering any kind of serious relationship. You need to be happy with the person you are and the choices you make when you are alone. Do not depend on another person to make you feel good.

2. Never neglect your friends or family for the sake of a dating relationship.

A great way to ruin amazing friendships is to ditch your friends for a boy or girl. Believe you me! Your family and friends were there first. Don’t think you can ignore them and they will still be waiting around for you if your relationship fails. Make time for your other relationships as it’s good to have a wide network as opposed to only one person in your life.

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3. You do not always live happily ever after.

Sadly, high school relationships statistically only last long term 2% of the time. This is hard to understand when you are young and your hormones are making you dizzy and sick with love. No one and nothing else could ever get in the way of your love! Ever! No matter how wonderful a relationship might seem, if you are too young to know what you want, it might not last.

4. Guard your heart, but not too much.

Since your first relationship might not last, it is best to guard yourself, at least a little. At the same time, you need to be able to open up in order to have a romantic relationship. Try your best to find this balance.

5. You might get hurt.

This is part of life and almost to be expected. When you open yourself up to another person, vulnerability occurs. This creates a close connection between two people, but it can also leave you open for a world of hurt. It is up to you how much of your heart you will risk for the relationship.

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6. You deserve respect—from yourself and from your partner.

Determine boundaries beforehand. Decide for yourself what is acceptable in the way you are treated, both verbally and physically. Then tell your partner and stick to those boundaries. It is an awful thing to find out along the way that you have given up too much.

7. Your love cannot be the center of the universe.

Life is still happening around you. There are still decisions to be made, responsibilities such as homework, chores and/or a job. Do not forgo everything else in your life just to spend time with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

8. No one belongs to you, nor you to anyone else.

Being in a relationship does not mean you lose all sense of self. Have your own interests and friends. At the same time, realize your boyfriend or girlfriend needs to have his or her own hobbies and social groups as well. You should be able to spend time together, just not all of your waking moments.

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9. You can never force someone to change.

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn (mainly for women—we seem to want to change our men). A person may act as though he or she is changing to make you happy, but it might not last long if the person doesn’t truly want to change.

10. It’s not like the movies.

Oh, Hollywood, how you trick the youth of the world with your gold-spun stories of love and romance! We are fooled into believing that finding romantic love is the greatest thing in life. Problems are supposed to melt away, there is no fighting and you drive off into the sunset, a complete person with your mate. Romance can be great, but keeping a relationship thriving is work. Be prepared to work if you truly want it to last.

11. Use this experience as a learning tool.

Sure, you might stay together and grow old with your first love, but if not, use your first relationship as a learning tool. What went wrong? What went right? How could you have communicated better? These are all things we learn from early relationships that help us in cultivating a better one down the road.

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Don’t be frightened by this list. Love can truly be amazing. The thing is, you might not know how to deal with or even know about the negative possibilities when entering a first relationship. Learn from these things and be better prepared when you take that first step.

For those of you who are experienced in the relationship realm, any advice for the newbies?

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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