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“How do you even do relationships? Like when do you hold hands, when do you send good morning texts? HOW DO YOU DO THIS.”

-Question Submitted by Anonymous

Shane Says:

First, remain calm.

Next, keep a foreign passport and a wad of foreign currency in a secure safety deposit box. Inevitably, you will make a huge fool of yourself—autocorrect will change “good morning” to “good mounting,” perhaps—and you’ll need a swift getaway. Tuscany sounds nice.

If you’re both jumping out of an airplane, you should definitely hold hands.

As for morning texts, I like to send a solid string around 4AM:

‘Good Morning’

‘carpe diem!’

‘LOL’

*six coffee emojis*

‘… that means “seize the day” in Latin’

‘whatcha thinkin’ about?’

Truthfully, Anonymous, there is no reliable algorithm for a successful relationship. Hand-holding and text messages are great but, like any expression of love or affection, should come from a place of kindness and generosity.

In fact, decades of research by psychologist John Gottman demonstrate how kindness and generosity not only contribute to healthy, long-lasting relationships, but also to healthy, long-lasting immune systems. You can read more about his research in this article, published in The Atlantic, but here’s the gist: be kind, be generous.

And learn to be kind in small, regular ways. Keep an eye out for moments of gratitude… when they pretend they didn’t hear you fart, or when they pay for the Uber at the end of the night. Remind them that you’re grateful for those crappy days when they made you laugh.

Give the best of yourself: give some time, give your undivided attention, and sometimes, as much as it sucks, give them some space. It sounds corny, but it counts.

Yes, eventually you will make a fool of yourself, and you’ll be looking up one-way flights out of the country. But learn what works for you in a relationship, and take the time to learn what works for them. Kindness and generosity tend to double back, so it’ll come in handy when you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable.

Be kind. Be generous. Limit yourself to three texts before noon. Remain calm.

***

Shane Billings resides in Los Angeles, where his Master’s Degree in Screenwriting hangs next to a Jane Fonda Workout record. He has no cats, two plants, and many wigs.

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