1. It’s ok to be YOU
You are you, in all your glorious good, bad and ugly. And it’s not only ok to be you, it’s bloody wonderful. The person you’re with should adore and cherish you for all your quirks and habits, madness and loveliness. The kind of person you want to be with will want to be with all of you. And that’s the kind of person who deserves you.
2. If they make you feel bad about your body/face/feet/humour/nose/teeth FORGET them
Your partner should make you feel good about yourself. If he’s pointing out flaws that damage your self-esteem, do yourself a favour and say goodbye.
3. Take your own time
It’s ok to wait six days, six weeks or six months to be a girlfriend, to have sex, to hold hands, to say yes or say no. You can be Dawson and Joey, or pawing at each other like wild animals, just as long as you feel happy and comfortable with the pace, forget everyone and everything else.
4. If you ever feel scared, leave.
Nobody should ever make you feel threatened or unsafe. There is no excuse for it. Ever. They might say they intended to hit the wall when they threw the book across the room in your direction, but if you think it was aimed at your head then trust your instincts. Get yourself out of the situation and get safe.
5. Don’t compare
My Mom got married a month off her 21st birthday and had two children by the time she was 25. My parents are still happily married but my path wasn’t her path. Don’t compare. Your friends might be in relationships, marry or have kids before you but nobody knows what is in store so don’t beat yourself up, and enjoy the dance.
6. They are simple creatures
No, they aren’t thinking about your future kids names when they’ve gone silent for twenty minutes. They’re wondering how they’ll manage to see the match on Sky and get to their five-a-side in the same evening. Or they’re hungry.
7. Be honest
If you like Elvis Presley, marmalade and cheese sandwiches and know every line of Beauty and the Beast that’s ok. If you don’t like bungee jumping don’t pretend you are a sexy female Bear Grylls when you’d prefer an Earl Grey and a five star hotel. Believe me. Some of the best couples I know might not have the same things in common, but they encourage each other’s passions. Little white lies are perfectly fine when you start dating, but it does all come out in the wash eventually.
8. Listen to your gut
You’ve gone on the date because he’s a nice guy. Did you really want to go on the date in the first place? He could be a great guy, but it doesn’t mean he’s your great guy. And that’s ok. Trust your instincts.
9. Don’t look back
You broke up for a reason. You tried, it didn’t work, you’ve cried in the shower/on the bus/in the nightclub, the local Thai take away knows your order by heart and you’ve listened to every break up playlist on YouTube, including that horrific cover version of Wrecking Ball. That’s all ok. Get off the bathroom floor, delete his number and keep him in a little place in your heart if he deserves it, but close the chapter. He’s not your lobster.
10. Make the most of it
My lovely friend always advises ‘Don’t waste the pretty.’ Unfortunately, while George Clooney can bag the likes of Amal in his 50s, nature is a little crueller to us ladies. Enjoy making the most of your hair, skin, boobs and bum while you can. We’ll all end up grey and crinkly, George included someday, and there’ll only be humour and gin and tonics to enjoy in the nursing home then – so enjoy the pretty.
11. Have hope
Remember you are precious!