F*ck The Relationship Rules

Worried you're not doing it 'right'? We betcha you are. Forget milestones and mortgages. Jeanne Sutton says ignorance of how other couples hang in there is the real bliss.


Hands up if this sounds familiar: You’re in your early 20s and that other couple in ‘the group’ are backpacking around the world, eating quinoa in its native habitat while you and your fella consider Eddie Rockets a date night. You’re wondering should you be popping into Trailfinders for some brochures?

Now your late 20s approach, and every weekend sees yet another engagement announcement on Facebook, 200 likes on average. Meanwhile, you and your significant other are still wondering if you should sign up to the cinema members programme.

In your early 30s you break out in skin picking hives as mortgages are openly discussed. You two are only just getting around to that long and exotic holiday. As you hit your 40s, you’re happy with your lot in life but your married-with-two-kids-and-a-jeep sister is giving you and your long-term partner sympathetic looks as everyone discusses schools.

Comparing yourself to other people is the worst. And comparing your romantic life to somebody else’s is toxic. What works for you, works for you. Fuck the naysayers. Not every relationship has to follow a timeline involving a hotel wedding reception at some stage. In fact, postponing marriage is a global trend with women and men marrying later. In ireland, first time brides are now aged 33, compared to just 24 in 1977.

We think there’s something great about being two functioning adults without codependency issues. Here are some ‘rules’ to flout while you both separately flourish.

You don’t have to live together

The nationwide housing crisis might mean you have the let’s share a bed permanently conversation earlier than anticipated, but there’s nothing worse than signing a lease and being unsure. Also, living apart can be great. For instance, you can leave your collection of yoga pants scattered on the floor when you’re having a particularly menstrual week. Every sleepover can be an occasion where you both pretend sipping freshly squeezed orange juice for a post-coital breakfast is a totally regular thing.

You don’t have to holiday together

They want to go to a continental music festival associated with dilated pupils. You want to check out indie boutiques in Brighton and get a selfie along the pier. Do what you want, apart, and avoid the worst argument of all: the in-public, “I never wanted to fucking come here anyway!”

You don’t have to follow the fairy tale

Most couples don’t have a sequential ‘journey’. Remember when Prince William dumped Kate Middleton and she joined a rowing team? Sometimes you break up and eventually make up. Sometimes there’s infidelity and you get through it. Sometimes your meet-cute story isn’t at all adorable and involves months of drunken hook ups before you decided to Netflix and chill sober. Sometimes addiction throws you both sideways. Sometimes there are money issues. Sometimes you can’t have kids and sometimes one of you doesn’t want to become a parent. True love is about mutual respect, not performative perfection.

You don’t have to PDA on social media

That couple you know who profess sweet nothings for each other on Facebook all the time and who make you feel like your feelings for your partner aren’t enough? Don’t even give it a second thought because Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin discovered that, “on a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings, they tended to make their relationships more visible.” So, now you know.

You don’t have to be joined at the hip

Mutual interests are great, sure, but having separate hobbies, interests and friend groups is no bad thing either. Doing everything together is edge-of-teeth material after a while, and yes, familiarity does breed contempt. Let your partner do their own thing, and cultivate your own stuff too – maintaining your own sense of personality within a relationship is vital.

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