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48 First Love Tips & Advice Before You Date or Enter Your First Relationship

Is this your first relationship? If so, you’re probably both excited and nervous. Don’t worry, here are the tips you need to make it a happy and healthy one.

first relationship tips and first love

The dating world is a minefield, no doubt about it. If you learn how to navigate it correctly, you can enjoy it, rather than constant confusion and panic. However, before entering your first relationship, you probably think you know everything to know before your first relationship.

Here’s some advice—you haven’t got anything figured out. Actually, you have a lot to learn. The good news is that you’ll do so pretty quickly with experience.

The most important things to know in a first relationship

First relationships come with a lot of emotion. This is your first time sharing serious emotions with someone else. You aren’t indulging in a crush but actually have reciprocated feelings.

This comes with its own set of assumptions. When you first get into a relationship, you can assume things will be a certain way.

You may get your relationship ideals from TV, movies, books, friends, or parents. These things are all nice to admire but aren’t reality. [Read: All the reasons why your first love isn’t usually your last]

Even real-life relationships you’ve observed are not a great starting point because you and your partner are not those people.

In a first relationship, you should let go of any preconceived notions of what this will be. Let go of #couplegoals. Don’t mimic your relationship after a celebrity couple or cute photos on social media.

You don’t need to spend your holidays together, hold hands, or be together 24/7. This relationship is not your whole life, no matter how much it may feel that way. [Read: New relationship advice for the perfect start]

A first relationship is just that: a first. You will likely have plenty more to come, and if on the odd chance this is your last relationship too. Treating it as if it isn’t will be the best way to go about it.

So, here are the most important things to know for your first relationship.

1. Find a balance

There’s a well-known joke of when people get into a relationship, they suddenly become dead to their family and friends. Literally, they disappear off of the face of the planet. [Read: The signs you’re spending waaayyy too much time with your partner]

Everyone knows they’re with their new girl/boyfriend, but it shouldn’t be like this. Your relationship quickly fizzles out if you don’t find a proper balance between your partner and your friends and family.

2. You probably won’t end up with this person

Sure, you probably thought you were going to marry them. Listen, that’s not to say that you won’t marry them, but you probably won’t marry them. 

But that doesn’t mean your relationship shouldn’t be taken seriously. Put yourself in the relationship, enjoy every moment of it, and just see where it goes. [Read: All the reasons why your first love isn’t usually your last]

3. Don’t try to change them

Listen, you may not like certain things about them, but this doesn’t mean you change them. 

For example, you might try to get your boyfriend to go to college, but then he might drop out after a couple of months.

He might not want to go, and trying to change his mind won’t work. But the point is, you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change.

4. Don’t argue over text

You can text to communicate with your partner over simple things such as when they are coming over or if they want you to bring pizza to their place. But never have your arguments over a text message.

Anything you feel that you should talk about, always do it in person. Texting will only make it worse.  [Read: How to resolve the conflict without all the drama]

5. Don’t change yourself 

Be who you are, not what you think your partner would like. They like you for a reason, don’t change yourself. 

If you have a set of opinions and values, you shouldn’t change them in order to be with someone. Yes, you can compromise, but the core of you should always stay the same. [Read: 55 secrets and self-love habits to build confidence and realize your worth]

6. Communication is everything

Seriously, it’s everything. If you want your relationship to last, be sure that you communicate with your partner. If not, your feelings and thoughts will be swept under the rug and only build up to a massive explosion. 

Exploding on your partner usually doesn’t end that well. So, if something’s bothering you, talk about it.

7. Set boundaries

You have your personal boundaries that you feel comfortable with. Now, for the most part, you’ll experiment a lot to see where those boundaries are. [Read: Crucial steps to setting boundaries in your life]

Maybe you like PDA or maybe you can’t stand the sight of it. But whatever your boundaries are, make sure that you vocalize them to your partner.

8. Try new things together

This is your first relationship, it’s exciting! So, try new things out together. Go paintballing, or head to an amusement park, or a hobby farm. 

Don’t spend your time cuddling in bed all day, take the time to explore the world with them. After all, they’re your partner. [Read: How to genuinely apologize and say sorry to your lover]

9. Don’t expect the sex to be mind-blowing

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be with someone who isn’t satisfying you sexually, but if this is your first time and their first time, well, it’s going to take time to get comfortable with each other on a sexual level.

On top of that, you need time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. So, if you have sex for the first time, and it isn’t what you expected, don’t worry, it just takes time. [Read: The virgin’s guide to nailing sex the first time]

10. Don’t invade their privacy

This is a huge thing. We all become insecure when we like someone, and we want to know everything they do, especially on their phones. But don’t start snooping. 

If you snoop, you find what you look for. If you have a feeling that your partner is cheating on you, talk to them, don’t snoop through their things.

11. You don’t belong to each other

One of the important things to know in a first relationship is that even if you’re committed to each other, it doesn’t mean you belong to each other.  [Read: The 20 cutest, adorably awkward moments in a new relationship]

You are two people that enjoy time together, but you both have your own likes, dislikes, hobbies, and more.

You don’t have to take on their hobbies nor do they, yours. And, you also can’t control them because you’re a couple.

12. Maintain your own identity

Be sure to find security in yourself outside of the relationship. A first relationship can often become codependent because you both get absorbed into each other. [Read: How to be independent even when you’re in a relationship]

Be sure to focus on what interests you. Indulge in your hobbies. Make time for yourself. You are not defined by your relationship or your partner.

13. Don’t be afraid to have real conversations

You don’t want to overlook things that bother you. Sure, you probably don’t want to rustle feathers or start a fight. But what you might not realize is that a serious conversation doesn’t have to be a fight.

You can be honest and share how you’re feeling without overreacting. If you push things that bother you aside now, that will become a pattern that ultimately leads to resentment. [Read: How to love someone – your easy guide to grow closer and love deeper]

14. Trust yourself

If something feels off to you, trust it. You are in control of your actions. Don’t put all your trust in a first relationship. 

You don’t have to expect it to end but trust how you feel. If you are growing out of it, that is okay. If you want to take things further, that is okay too. [Read: Am I codependent? Signs you’re clingy and overstepping boundaries]

15. Maintain your deal breakers

You may think dealbreakers say that you’re picky, but if there are things you know you can’t compromise on, stick to them. 

Whether you know you want to be with someone that shares your religion or political views or even is a nonsmoker, you don’t have to waiver. [Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for successful love]

16. It is okay to vent to others

One of the things to know in a first relationship is that it’s okay to vent. It is important that you have friends and family to talk to.

You can rave about your relationship, but be sure to tell the truth. Letting others see what you want them to see can leave you feeling alone in your times of need.

17. What you want matters

Do not let this relationship override what you want. If you want to go away to school, don’t let your partner or desire for the relationship influence what you want. [Read: Stand up for yourself – why it’s hard and steps to get what you want and deserve]

If your partner doesn’t support your job or goals, it is okay to let go of them. Your choices are what define you, not your relationship.

18. Listen to your parents, family, and friends

Emotions are strong in a first relationship, but listening to the people in your life is important. Try to let go of your opinions and at least hear out your parents and friends.

You may think your parents are trying to ruin your life or your friends are jealous because they don’t approve of the person you’re seeing, but give them a chance. [Read: How to tell your parents that you have a boyfriend and do it right]

These are the people that have always been there for you and are looking out for you. So, no matter how much it hurts to hear bad things about your relationship, this input could save you a lot of hurt later on.

19. You don’t have to have sex 

Your first relationship does not require sex. You do not need to have sex because you’re in a relationship or in love. 

If you want to, that is a decision for you and your partner, but it is something you both should agree on. [Read: How to fix a rushed relationship – learn to slow down and have fun!]

20. There is no need to rush

This is your first relationship, so enjoy it. You don’t have to rush to label it, meet each other’s families, or get super serious. Enjoy getting to know each other. 

Go on dates. Try not to get comfortable too quickly because the best part of a first relationship is the awkwardness and the butterflies. [Read: Taking it slow in a relationship and how to do it right]

21. Let go of the dream relationship

One of the things to know in a first relationship is that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. 

No matter how many cute couple photos you take, there is always more going on behind the camera. Let go of what you imagined your first relationship would be.

22. Stop texting

Texting all day every day does not make a relationship happy or successful. You do not need to be talking all day every day. [Read: Relationship mistakes new couples make all the time]

This makes the relationship something your day revolves around. It takes your focus and attention away from family dinners, school, work, and socializing.

You also don’t want to share deep conversations or arguments via text because there is no better way to cause a misunderstanding.

23. Know how to spot gaslighting and other controlling behaviors

Keep an eye out for red flags. Relationships can seem so lovely and dreamy at first, but manipulation often creeps in. [Read: BIG red flags in a relationship you should never explain away]

Be on the lookout for a partner trying to control you, invalidate your feelings, or twist facts. These things can lead to a dysfunctional relationship that is hard to escape.

24. Give into being vulnerable

Let yourself be honest. In order to get the most out of this relationship whether it lasts or not, being truly vulnerable will let you really see how you feel and what you want.

Be yourself, not who you think they want or even who you think you’d rather be. When you alter yourself for a first relationship, it becomes a pattern in the future. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship, open up, and 28 secrets to grow closer]

25. Everyone has a past

Even if this is a first relationship for you, it may not be for them. And you’ve probably had feelings for someone else before, even a crush. These things can be hard to let go of. It is in our nature to compare ourselves.

Accept that your partner likely has a past and that past has nothing to do with you. [Read: How to deal with saying “I love you” and not hearing it back]

26. The pain of heartbreak isn’t permanent

The reason you may want to stay in a first relationship is the fear of pain. When you haven’t dealt with a breakup before, you can’t imagine it. But a first relationship often outgrows itself.

It isn’t anyone’s fault, people just grow and change. Remember when and if that time comes that the pain of ending won’t last forever. You will move on.

27. Don’t skip the sexual health conversation

It’s likely that you and your partner are very sexually attracted to each other and will want to have sex at some point when you’re ready.

But don’t let the lust cloud your logical judgment and get caught up in the moment. Instead, talk about your sexual health ahead of time.

Both of you should get tested for STDs and anything else before you decide to be physically intimate. You should also talk about birth control options so that you are both on the same page about that. [Read: How to have safe sex & the dangers of unprotected sex most don’t know]

28. If you can’t trust them, they’re not for you

Many people have trust issues that have stemmed from former relationships and experiences. [Read: Can a relationship without trust last?]

If you really feel you can’t trust this person, they’re not someone you should be in a relationship with. It’s really that simple. Alongside communication, trust is one of the most important things in any relationship and without both, you’re lacking.

29. Any type of control is never okay

One of the most important things to know before your first relationship is that any type of control isn’t okay. If you experience it, take action. 

If someone tries to coerce you, push you into something you don’t want to do, or control your actions or thoughts, it’s not healthy, it’s not love, and it’s not something you should put up with. [Read: How to be patient in a new relationship and not risk your new love]

30. Your self-worth and happiness don’t rely on this relationship

It’s easy to assume that this relationship is your everything. While it will seem that way, you should chill out a little and ensure that you continue to do the things you’ve always done. 

Your self-worth certainly doesn’t hinge on this relationship and neither does your happiness. 

31. Love yourself as a first port of call

Of course, you care deeply about your partner, but you should always ensure that you focus on loving yourself first. [Read: Love yourself first – where people go wrong, 36 whys, and how to do this right]

By doing it, you’ll be able to stay confident and happy, and you’ll have more to offer your partner in the relationship too. It’s not possible to completely love another person if you don’t love yourself, and that’s the truth. 

32. Constantly pleasing your partner won’t make them want you or love you

Some people are manipulative and as much as nobody wants to end up in that situation, it’s a possibility. If your partner is always needy and constantly trying to get you to please them, take a step back.

You don’t have to keep doing things for someone to make them want you or love you. As a person, you’re enough. Don’t be a doormat. [Read: People pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop people pleasing]

33. Don’t believe everything you hear, but don’t cast everything aside either

Social media can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a pretty toxic thing. If you hear rumors about your partner, don’t simply believe them without question. However, don’t completely disregard them either. Be wary but not paranoid.

Sometimes rumors come your way, but it doesn’t mean they’re true. Social media can often be the root cause of it all. Remember that sometimes people just like to talk for no reason other than they’re bored.

34. Sometimes people turn out to be completely different

It’s heartbreaking when people don’t turn out to be how we pictured them to be or how we thought they were, but it’s a lesson learned. One of the things to know before your first relationship is that you can only deal with what is in front of you. 

35. You should always give a chance to those who aren’t your “type” 

We all have a type but don’t disregard anyone who doesn’t fit into your mold. How can you be sure that your The One isn’t someone who really isn’t what you picture? 

They might turn out to be the most wonderful person, so one of the things to know before your relationship is that types aren’t really worth anything! [Read: Types of love you’ll experience in your life]

36. Always listen to your gut

If your gut is telling you that someone is up to something or they’re just no good, listen to it. When you first enter into a relationship, it can be easy to push warning sides away and focus on the positives. 

However, your gut is telling you something for a reason. If that nagging is always there in the background, it’s something you should explore. [Read: Here’s what you need to know how to listen to your gut]

37. Don’t play games or tolerate them coming your way

While we all play the odd relationship game from time to time, they shouldn’t become commonplace in your relationship. 

There are harmless games, and there are manipulative games. If you want something, ask for it. If you’re worried about something, talk about it.

Games basically come down to poor communication. A constant cycle of game-playing points toward a huge problem. [Read: Mind games in a relationship – why play, when it’s okay, and how to stop it]

How to build a strong and lasting connection

Just because this is your first relationship doesn’t mean that it can’t last long-term. In fact, if you do it right, you can even make it last forever. Here are some things you can do to make your relationship strong.

1. Surprise them with a gift

Giving people gifts is a thoughtful, loving gesture. It says that the other person was on your mind and you saw something that you thought would make them happy. 

So, figure out what they like and then surprise them with a gift that will make them appreciate you. [Read: 34 best gift ideas for your boyfriend he’ll love more than you know!]

It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. It could be a single rose or a small stuffed animal. It’s the thought that counts.

2. Give them compliments

While compliments can make some people uncomfortable, most people like them. It makes us feel good to hear good things about ourselves.

After all, who doesn’t like it when someone tells them that they are pretty, smart, and have a winning personality? So, give them compliments whenever you can. [Read: 20 funny compliments you can use to flatter and make them laugh]

3. Plan some fun dates

At the beginning of the relationship, you should try to impress them with some fun dates. In fact, you shouldn’t ever stop planning fun dates. 

Eventually, relationships can become routine if you get lazy. But don’t let that happen. Keep the fun alive between the two of you for as long as possible. Go mini-golfing, bowling, to a concert, or zip lining. Find activities that you both love.

4. Build up your physical intimacy

Depending on our age, physical intimacy is a very important part of a relationship. [Read: Stages of physical intimacy as you go from stranger to lovers]

Now, if you are very young – like a teenager – then you don’t want to jump into sex too soon. Get to know each other, and build up the physical intimacy slowly. 

If you’re an adult, just go at what pace feels best to you. But just remember, physical intimacy helps you bond emotionally too. It’s important.

5. Communicate openly and honestly

It’s not always easy to be honest and open with someone. [Read: 42 ways to communicate better in a relationship and ways to fix a lack of it]

The reason for that is that it makes you vulnerable and open to rejection if it doesn’t go well. But it’s necessary for a healthy relationship.

So, don’t be afraid to speak your mind in a kind, gentle way. Tell your partner what you want and ask them what they want. Both people should try to meet each other’s needs.

6. Treat them how you’d want to be treated

You know the Golden Rule, right? Treat people how you want to be treated. It sounds simple and that “duh, everyone should know that”…but they don’t. Unfortunately, many people are selfish. [Read: How to show empathy and learn to understand someone else’s feelings]

The key to treating your partner right is being empathetic. Empathy is seeing a situation from the other person’s perspective, and not just your own. So, you have to step outside of your own worldview and see things from their perspective. And treat them right!

7. Celebrate their achievements

You need to be a supportive and encouraging partner too. If they want to go to college, let them know it’s a great idea. Or if they saved up enough money to pay cash for a car, let them know how proud you are of them.

We all achieve things in life, and it’s very important when our partners acknowledge what we did. Be a positive supporter of the things they do. Never drag them down with negativity. [Read: 17 signs of a supportive partner who encourages you and your goals]

8. Be supportive of your partner

Not only should you be supportive of your partner’s achievements, but you should also be supportive of their emotions too. If they are having a bad day, ask them why and what you can do to help them. Hold them and talk to them.

You should also have their back. For example, if their car broke down or got a flat tire, you should be the first one to come to their rescue.

9. Apologize when you’re wrong

Don’t be hard-headed and stubborn. No one is perfect, and that includes you. You can’t have a sense of superiority when you’re in a relationship. Everyone does things wrong from time to time. [Read: 28 Heartfelt ways to say you’re sorry and apologize to someone you love]

So, you need to acknowledge, admit, and apologize if you do something wrong. It doesn’t make you weak to apologize. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. So, be a mature person and take responsibility for your actions.

10. Work through any conflicts together

You really need to have effective conflict management skills too. Every couple will have disagreements – it’s inevitable. And that doesn’t make it a bad thing. In fact, conflict can be very productive when you work through them together.

So, don’t avoid your problems and put your head in the sand. [Read: Why fighting in a relationship is important and how to do it right]

But you also can’t yell, scream, and call each other names either. Remember, you are both on the same team. It’s not “me vs. you”, it’s “us” – so find solutions together.

11. Say “I love you” when you’re ready

There is no “right time” to say “I love you.” Some couples say it within weeks of dating each other, and others go months or even years. [Read: How and when to say “I love you” for the first time – 46 new love must-knows!]

If your partner says it first and you don’t quite feel it yet, don’t feel the need to say it back. Instead, just give it time until you really feel the love.

On the other hand, if you say it first and your partner doesn’t say it back at first, don’t panic. Everyone develops feelings at different rates. They will come around eventually.

[Read: 50 questions to immediately know if you two are compatible]

Out of these things to know before your first relationship, you’re probably already aware of some. But a full picture will help you navigate your first big relationship with ease.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...