Relationship advice isn't one-size-fits-all, so it helps to get a range of opinions. And while we're huge fans of credentialed sex and relationship experts, sometimes you just need some real talk from women who've been there. That's why we've decided to draw from Refinery29's library of personal stories to glean some real-world advice. These are people who've been through specific romantic challenges and have come out of them wiser — and are happy to spread their newfound wisdom.
Perform mental health check-ins from time to time:  Does being with him make you happy or do come away from your dates feeling troubled or angry?  Do you feel lifted up when you think of him?  Is he respectful of you, your work and your passions or does he denigrate them?  Most importantly, does he find value in you and what you contribute to his life?  Do you find value in him and what he contributes to yours?
[After Mel], I also went out with Mick Jagger. I’m a lyric in “Some Girls” — the Chinese girl referenced is me. I had a very good boyfriend whom I met in Milan. He was very rich — his father was a car designer in France. Through him I met a lot of famous people, including my good friend, Ahmet Ertegun, who was the chairman of Atlantic Records. He was insane! The funniest person I have ever met. He was in his 50s and snorting coke, drinking, smoking dope all at the same time, rambling. Anyway, through him I met The Stones. It was all very casual.
“An intelligent man wants to ultimately spend his life with a woman with whom he knows he shares complimentary energies with. He wants to feel like him and his woman are solid, because nothing can throw them off base, because the flow of their connection is just so grounded, that nothing can come in between that— not reason, not logic, not lies, not insecurities, not doubts and not fears. Men don't talk about this, but this is what intelligent men innately crave, and they don't want anything less. They want something solid. They don't want to be with women who want to be with guys who don't respect them or who try to make them jealous all the time; they don't want to be with women who need to feel like there's a game that's being played. So, contrary to popular belief, men do want something real, even more real than what many women dream of! And it's not about other people and what they think is real; it's about just him and her and what they know is real. But you can never fake making a man believe this is the kind of connection that you have with him, because you can't fake energies! At the end of the day, if you're that woman, then you're that woman and he's that man for you. Your connection through your energies will just flow through everything— walls, distance, time, fears— you'll be solid.”
"Don't take your love for granted. Love is like a plant, it needs to be nurtured so it will continue to grow. Without water and sunlight, it will die. This is why it is so important to make time for things like date night, whether it is once a week or once a month. The key is to continue to make the other one feel special and loved — to enjoy each other's company and have fun."
"For long-lasting love, the more similarity (e.g., age, education, values, personality, hobbies), the better. Partners should be especially sure that their values match before getting into marriage. Although other differences can be accommodated and tolerated, a difference in values is particularly problematic if the goal is long-lasting love. Another secret for a long marriage: Both partners need to commit to making it work, no matter what. The only thing that can break up a relationship are the partners themselves."
"This may sound obvious, but you can't imagine how many people come to couples therapy too late, when their partner is done with a relationship and wants to end it. It is very important to realize that everyone potentially has a breaking point, and if their needs are not met or they don't feel seen by the other, they will more than likely find it somewhere else. Many people assume that just because they are OK without things they want so is their partner. 'No relationship is perfect' shouldn't be used as a rationalization for complacency."
“I believe that when a woman is given the chance to come to the defense of another woman, that is an opportunity that she should take in behalf of not only that woman; but in behalf of herself and all other women, everywhere. Men don't have low opinions of women because women are sluts and whores; but men have low opinions of women because they see how women compete with one another, pull one another down in order to rise above and backbite one another endlessly. There are men who have low opinions of women because of how women treat other women. They see that and they think, "What kind of a species can do that to their own species?" So if you really want the guy, why not get him by showing him what a true friend you are to your girlfriends? Or by showing him how happy you are for the good fortune of another woman and how much you admire her? And if he doesn't appreciate that then he doesn't deserve you! I know we've got a long, long way to go before we change the way our gender treats one another; but it's got to start somewhere and I suggest we start right now.”
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"Throw us a bone. We all know that men often think they know more about something than they really may. It's in our chemical makeup. Sometimes you just have to let us set the tent up wrong when camping or take three hours to change your oilfor a lot of us, it's how we both try to impress you and show you we care. Sometimes you've got to let a guy be a guyeven if we're goofing up." Blake S.
Realising from the outset that relationships require work, hard work, is the basic starting point. It’s not a fairytale, but it’s your story - your love story. And that’s what makes it magical. Approaching love as a verb, put in the effort and don’t be surprised when it’s not all smooth sailing. Do the work and reap the reward; back your love with your choices and do the deeds that need doing. Action really does speak louder than words.
While it's nice to consult your girl friends or bros about relationship issues, keep in mind that every relationship is different and what works for one couple may not work for you. This also means that not everyone is going to understand why you do what you do; it may not make sense to your best friend why you chose to give up something you once loved for your significant other — and that's OK.
Ray says that in a new relationship it's common for couples to drop some of their usual activities and cancel on friends to see their partner. "Remember that attraction is also created by the anticipation of seeing your partner and by creating some distance," says Ray. "When you always drop everything to be with your new partner, it may set the expectation that your previous commitments are secondary to who you're dating." She says to keep yourself busy and honor your plans with friends as you adjust your schedule in moderation.

“Women are open. They believe, they subscribe, and they go all in. They will do what it takes to meet the man of their dreams and put themselves out there,” says professional matchmaker, Susan Trombetti.  “They are more social, they are happy a lot of the times, and in this generation of women, they are the best version of themselves: educated, great friends, independent, great careers, and great family. They have a lot to offer someone.”

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