5 Love Tips I’d Love To Give My Younger Self

Love Advice Couple - Clay Banks

You know how I started my blogging career? By writing about my heartbreaks. This was during the Geocities days where you had to manually write each page’s HTML through Notepad.

You know what would’ve happened had I been lucky with the girls? I wouldn’t have had any reason to share my collection of cringe-rants. And I’ll tell you, my posts were so emo they could’ve fronted for My Chemical Romance.

Do I regret baring my unfiltered thoughts for my high-school friends to make fun of? Perhaps. Could I have used some romance tips from a wiser person? Most definitely.

So let us embark then, on the love advice I’d have given my younger self, had I had a time machine or something.

But first, where am I now?

I’ve never really believed in soulmates, but if they exist, then Len is probably mine.

We’d first met around 2010, I forget the exact year, where we shared a few years together. Then we go our separate ways for another few years, before reuniting in 2016. We’ve been together ever since.

Growing together wasn’t easy, but neither is anything else worth having, and so we now find ourselves with almost a decade’s experience of living together, and I’d like to think that current me is a much more improved version of myself. Because I refuse to believe otherwise.

But I digress. Let’s get on with the list then, shall we?

1. You have to work on yourself first

It’s no secret that I’ve dabbled in pick-up artistry before. My logic was that if I wasn’t getting the girls’ attention, then there must be some secret tactic I’m missing out on.

Seriously. I thought the world was a kung-fu flick, and all I was missing was the ancient manual of the dragon fist. In these movies, all the hero needed was to read a book and they’d be endowed with the holy grail of knowledge—all without needing to train.

If I could go back in time, I’d slap twenty-year-old me upside the head, and I wouldn’t even tell him who I am. Let him think I’m a stranger. Because he’s not going to fight back. Trust me. I know.

Besides that, he wouldn’t even have anything going on for him. No ambition, a dead-end job, a junkie lifestyle, a smoking habit… the list goes on.

And yet there I was, dreaming of success with the women, yet not even making the slightest attempt at leaving loserdom and trying for being at least average.

That’s where I’d start. I’d tell myself to have something to offer before I ask so much of the world.

Love Tips Guitar - Karl Solano

I’d have a different life had I worked on myself sooner. Photo: Karl Solano

2. You don’t have to react

Back then, I was so insecure that you could probably guess my password. And you know what comes with that territory? Thinking every comment from my partner was an attack.

It took a while, but I’d finally learn that arguments often aren’t worth the time. Unless it affects our future, there’s no real reason to win or be right.

Who cares if I don’t share her belief in fengshui masters? And why should I feel slighted when she laughs at my driving skills? Oh, but how the younger me could’ve benefitted from a bit of chill.

I was insufferable, to say the least. Every little quip would be met by retaliation. Mention a flaw and I’d launch an assault of my own, something along the lines of: “Well, what about your bloody bad habit?”

I think this stemmed back to the fact that I had nothing going on for myself, so it was easy to take everything so personally. Because when your self-worth is as fragile as a damp cracker, you’re bound to defend it to the death.

But do you know what I’ve gained from being the one with the last word? Nothing. Except maybe a relationship that was worse off than before the argument.

I wish younger me knew that. And so, if I had a time machine, I’d help my old self realise that winning arguments is that last thing I should ever care about in a relationship.

3. You have to be a good roommate

Because when you live together for a while, whatever you can do to be a good roommate is the same as being a good partner.

That means washing the dishes once you’re done. Picking up the chores your partner doesn’t do. Respecting their space. Not leaving your clothes on the floor. Basically don’t be the slob you were when you were single.

You know how writers don’t realise all the other things they have to do—like, gasp, marketing—once they embark on their path to authorhood? Yeah living together is the same.

Tell that to younger me though, because when I’d left the country to stay with a girl I’d met a month prior, I never did any chores. Probably touched a mop once the entire half-year I was there.

I know, I know. I can feel your gasps all the way from here. Please remove your hand from your mouth now. I mean, this post is about learning, right?

So yeah. If I had a time machine, I’d tell my younger self that sweeping and mopping the floor should be done at least weekly. Not bi-annually. And for heaven’s sake, at least wipe down the fan every once in a while.

A pile of white laundry on a countertop in a home.

Who did the laundry? Sure as hell wasn’t me. Photo: Annie Spratt

4. Commit

Relationships used to be just another extra in my life. Or at least that’s how I looked at it. Every time a tiny obstacle popped up, breaking up was the first thing that came to mind.

Oh, you want me to change? How about I leave and save myself all the trouble?

Oh, you want to encourage me to strive for a better future, eh? Well, a real partner would accept me for me!

Selfish. That’s what I was. And it showed. I went into every relationship wondering what was in it for me. I never once chose to be in a relationship simply to offer my best—and that’s because I had nothing to offer.

Now I know that we should strive to give our best, no matter what our partner does. Do I want to be in the relationship? Then commit. If I’m not willing to do that, then I probably am in the wrong relationship.

Give me that time machine, and I’ll tell my younger self to stop thinking about myself for a moment. And how I can do that is by first cultivating something I value in myself. Anything. Seriously. Even the slightest ambition would’ve been a win for lazy ol’ me.

5. You’re going to do stupid things, and that’s fine because you’re going to be a writer, and who knows? One day you might end up—okay I really shouldn’t ramble on in the subheadings

So I’ve told you about me going to live in Singapore with a girl I barely knew, right? Did you know I fell and broke my hand there? And that since we were in the middle of an argument, I had to go to the hospital on my own? At midnight?

Fun story, isn’t it? Didn’t feel so at the time. But hey, ever since I started selling words for a living, I couldn’t get enough of bad experiences. Not that I actively seek them out, mind you, but I get to enjoy the silver lining that I’ll always have a story to tell.

There was also the girlfriend who’d always hung out with her ex the whole time we were together. They’d travel together, and I’d even come home to see them hanging out together. It was one of the weirdest relationships I’d ever had. I stayed for two years.

But hey, ask me about that relationship and I can give you tales that would put Danielle Steel to shame.

Oh, and yeah, the time machine thing. I guess I’ll tell myself to relax, because everything’s going to work out in the end.

Love Tips Bored Woman - Siddharth Bhogra

You after reading that last subheading. Photo: Siddharth Bhogra

Admission fee: Pain

We like to think of pain as something to be avoided. I remember being so fearful of having my heart broken again that I never opened it throughout most of my dating life.

But it’s through the pain where we learn not to take our loved ones for granted, where we start to see the pointlessness of arguments, where we realise that we can indeed survive through things we thought we couldn’t.

So I guess that’s what I’m going to end this piece on: the fact that we either win, or we learn. And when we look at things that way, I guess going through heartbreak after heartbreak ain’t so bad after all.


Time machine or not, I’d advise you to join the newsletter. Not only will you get exclusive content that you won’t find elsewhere on the blog, you’ll also get a guide on how to grow your blog. Do it. Click the button.

74 thoughts on “5 Love Tips I’d Love To Give My Younger Self

  1. Great tips! I’ve been married for 8 years and this advice stands in marriages as well. It’s not all roses and butterflies and personal growth is sometimes painful. It seems you have done a lot of growth over the years. If I had a time machine, id give myself self confidence with friendships and not chase friends around. I also wouldn’t spill my secrets to anyone who would listen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yeah, the chasing thing is something we all have to learn. I myself learned that if I’m chasing too hard (even friendships), then I’m probably not working on myself enough to have something to offer. Thanks so much for sharing what you’d do. Am loving your spate of comments!

      Like

  2. great write Stuart.

    gotta send to my son and take some notes myself.

    “I think this stemmed back to the fact that I had nothing going on for myself, so it was easy to take everything so personally. Because when your self-worth is as fragile as a damp cracker, you’re
    bound to defend it to the death.”

    🙏👏👏👏 truth!

    “But do you know what I’ve gained from being the one with the last word? Nothing. Except maybe a relationship that was worse off than before the argument.”

    Absolutely1!💖👏

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the one thing I wish I’d known, because if you knew me growing up, you probably wouldn’t want to be friends with me. I was that much of a slop. It’d be great to have a DeLorean for that, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You learn and you grow that’s the drift of life. And everything happens in Devine timing. I take pleasure in where I am right now and what I have achieved. Yes there are days when I question every decision I ever made but at the end of the day we learned and we grew. Your post was excellent and I loved it. I’m still learning how to grow my blog. It’s a big work in progress but I’m hoping it will work well soon in its own time. Along with the podcasts

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love your thoughts on the drift of life. I like that term too. And yes, it’s all about learning. The worst thing we can do for ourselves is go through the pain without taking anything from those experiences. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I appreciate it!

      Like

      • Thank you for being so kind and generous with your words. We all are constantly learning. So why not just embrace it. Bless you

        Like

    • Heck yeah. The scar on my hand is a reminder that I did indeed take chances in my life, and that I’m not as fearful as I always think I am. And you’re so right. Who we are today is a sum total of our experiences, and changing our ‘mistakes’ would only mean changing who we are, which would be a bad thing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this insightful post.

    You are right, having the last word in an argument does nothing to one’s ego or satisfaction. Better to agree to disagree and move on.

    I don’t believe in taking my partner for granted. Yes, there is a certain feeling of security in knowing that he loves me more than life itself even after 46 years of marriage! But, I feel the minute we start taking each other for granted, the depth of our relationship will be lost.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great thoughts, Chaya! And just to add to that, let’s not take anything for granted, because nothing’s worse than looking back and realising that we’ve totally ignored how lucky we were.

      Being married for 46 years is crazy awesome, and there must be wisdom behind this comment, because you practise what you preach.

      Appreciate you stopping by!

      Like

  5. thanks for sharing the ups and downs of relationships. you remind me of Taylor Swift, who seems to write about her relationships as well. I guess, as you note, that relationships are a good source of material for writers! congrats on finding your soulmate!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. If I had a time machine to convince my younger self to be better, then I wouldn’t be here. I’d probably be a blackbelt taekwondo guy doing competitions, or be one of those urban explorers/paranormal investigators on YouTube, or a governor, or a movie director. Or a taekwondo master who made paranormal exploration YouTube videos that went on to direct a movie and then became a governor who would later write a self gratifying autobiography book that nobody would read. :O
    The paths we took all brought us here to this point in time, even on this very blog and comment section, and using a time machine to alter our crappy past selves would lead to an altering of multiple lives. Like the Butterfly Effect, but with no Ashton Kutcher or Amy Smart.

    But on a more serious note, seeing as how I have never had the joys or hardships of being in a relationship, this is good advice. The working on yourself part is one I personally have a lot of trouble with because I put a lot focus on work, and it shows since I aged badly.

    If oneself is whittled down, rotted from the inside, then it will reflect on the exterior. That is why I’m going for other lifestyle choices, like exercising in ways my injuries will allow, combing my hair, regulated electronic uses, better food, earlier bed times, and gardening (that actually has an ulterior motive, but sunlight is good for you). I’ve already had some improvements. Got the attention of a few people who aren’t old ladies that like radio voices. So, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to help who I can along the way if I can.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a pretty interesting perspective, and I wonder if you’ve read Midnight Library by Matt Haig already. Do check it out if you haven’t, as it follows the main character through her journey of her own life, making all the different decisions, seeing who she could’ve become had she pursued something a bit harder, studied more, became a better friend, etc.

      Your comment really reminded me of that.

      It’s great that you already have some improvements. I myself have had new challenge these few days, and I’m quickly learning that it’s about doing the most from where we’re at today, rather than pining over who we were, or who we could’ve been.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, JB!

      Like

  7. Is it sad that my laptop only has notepad on it? 😬😬😬 I’m so glad you’re able to have this look back and that you’re still writing. That’s the most amazing accomplishment!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lol, digital minimalism is a great practice too, and Notepad is still one of the most useful softwares to date.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Am always glad to keep writing, even though I don’t feel like it sometimes. Maybe it is my passion indeed, though sometimes that thought is VERY questionable, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is very great advice! #2 really resonated with me. I was so insecure in my last relationship. I would overthink every single thing he would say or do. I definitely needed to work on myself first before getting into any relationship. I’m glad I started to do just that, and I realized that I need more time before I am truly ready to commit to a relationship. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh yeah. Sometimes when we put too much weight on our partner’s every word and action, it probably hints a lot about ourselves more than the other person. And non-intuitively, we actually need to address our own problems instead of trying to change the other person. Thanks for your great reflections!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I suddenly remember all my cringe-worthy posts on Xanga and how past me was simply—unbelievably immature. Thanks for that Stuart.

    Those memories aside, I find these points to be so extremely true, most especially pain. When I really think about it, a lot of our life-changing transformations come when we experience pain. That isn’t to say we can’t improve when we’re in a state of joy, but for various reasons, the pain and sadness pushes us to be better. And it’s when we become that better version of ourselves that we’re able to love and care for our partner much more. Thanks for another amazing post Stuart.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Lol, Xanga, now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Cringe-worthy posts are the best though. Because it’s great to see us as totally different people, sometimes people we ourselves don’t recognise, lol.

      Yup, it’s all about growth, isn’t it? That’s all that matters in the end. No matter who we are, or what we do. Thanks for your awesome thoughts as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Soo many relatable facts here! I love how honest you are in this post – especially coming from a guy’s point of view! One of the things I appreciate so much is having had the single-girl-living-alone experience before meeting my husband. I know I can take care of myself and God forbid we were not together anymore, I know I am someone who will always land on their feet, and I think that’s so important in relationships (you are great together, but alone you can still be okay too)!

    Liked by 3 people

    • True that! I had a long period of being single before I got back together with Len, and that was actually the best time of my life, because I’d learned that prior to this, I was just hopping from relationship to relationship just for its own sake, and not because I wanted to be with someone who was right for me.

      And once you learn you can be alone, you actually end up bringing so much more into your relationship.

      Thanks for your lovely perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey Stu please by all means digress! I would luv to hear more about “…current me is a much more improved version of myself.” Cos within these words lies a whole other post, maybe even a memoir! Transcendence man is what the reading world laps up like a cat to a milk dish. Write that next time ok cos I luv to hear how u change. And hey the next time you’re in Singapore, call me ok? I’ll accompany you to the hospital haha (not that I’m wishing that on you or anyone). My point is you needn’t be alone. Thanks again for this vulnerable sharing about your love life. All the best to you and Len!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lol, oh yeah, even the taxi driver uncle was more empathetic than my ex at that time. He was the one that had advised me to go to the hospital, since “clinics can’t do anything for that (my knuckles had disappeared), especially at this hour (it was midnight).”

      It’s good to have a scar to commemorate that though.

      And thank you for always having awesome comments to share. I guess I should start thinking about something for that transcendence piece, huh?

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Actually I started to write due to an emotional downturn. That’s how I started. I went back to what I wrote before, and was deeply touched by all those words written at the time. How beautiful life is.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Do you ever feel like the younger you wrote better because you hadn’t learned the dos and don’ts of writing? I feel like my writing these days have become more sterile, and I sometimes admire my old work, typos aside.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved this post for your honesty, insights, and ability to laugh at your former self—all qualities we can learn from. I got a particular chuckle (laughing with you, not at you) of breaking your hand during a fight and having to go to the ER alone.

    I have a similar confession. I was out with my family, and I got the sudden urge to sneeze. Not wanting to blast somebody’s mashed potatoes, I suppressed my sneeze and ended up with shooting pain in my back, to the point it was hard to breathe. It was the stupidest injury I ever had, resulting in a compression fracture. I remember the look on the doctor’s face. “Now how did you hurt yourself again?”🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hahaha. I can totally relate to ‘the stupidest injury I had category’, since this broken hand was a result of climbing out the bathtub.

      But yours takes the cake. It does make us who we are though, and I’m certain that it’s a fun story to tell people.

      Also, thanks for telling me!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Stuart, reading your post invoked past memories. We are different beings, and yet similar in some ways. I guess that’s growing up.
    While we cannot turn back time, I’m sure you will agree with me that, moving forward, we all make an effort to be a better version of our yester-selves.
    Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to reading from you.
    Namaste 🙏😊

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Reading this got me reflecting and learning. I felt whooped! This are things we are not always conscious of. We through caution to the wind and expect to attract better versions of ourselves.

    It was a lovely read. Thank you, Stuart.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I’ve been reading some of my diaries from decades ago and cringing with mortification over my periodic selfishness, cluelessness, and utter stupidity. I’m mortified when I hear my younger voice, but then again, as you point out, it’s all a learning experience that prepares us for the eventual adult we hope to be. I like the self-recognition and also the hopefulness of your post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Wow. I have journal entries from years past, but to have them from decades ago would be an amazing insight.

      And you what they say (who though?), as long as we have today, we can make a change. Or not. The choice is entirely up to us.

      Here’s to growing as people, constantly and assuredly!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It is best if you don’t give me a time machine. The hit list is very long.

    Also, love advice? Really?

    Jokes aside, excellent article. The faze of impressing women with some secret technique only lasted for few months for me, and that was when I was 15. I personally think that any teenage boy should read this.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. #1 and all that entails is probably the most important and it’s amazing just how much of that feeds into all the rest.

    Working on yourself means facing bad habits, identifying your trauma responses, dealing with unresolved anger and hurt from the past, dealing with your own mistakes, and yes, figuring out who you are. We’re all trained to think it’s about having a job, steady income, housing, etc, but it goes beyond that. That’s all a shell and can be taken away. If you don’t know WHO you are, then you’ll automatically become what you think the other person wants you to be. In my own experience, that can be far more damaging and painful than anything else.

    Excellent post, per usual, and I think most of us would give the same advice to our younger selves!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh yeah. Sadly enough, I’ve gone through life for the better part of three decades before I even learned what self-love or self-improvement was. But better late than never, eh?

      Still, the journey is a long one ahead, and I have so many things I’ve yet to address, but at least I can confidently tell myself that I’m headed in the right direction.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Interestingly enough, self-love doesn’t come naturally for a lot of us. We don’t even know that we loathe ourselves until we take a good, hard look at ourselves. I’d been a slob for the longest time ever, but had never thought I was treating myself badly even in the slightest. But the more we learn, eh? Here’s to self-love and awareness!

      Liked by 2 people

  19. The pain part really got me. Our brains have been wired -by who? I don’t know- to either lock up our pain or flush them out in ways that shouldn’t be.
    Pain should be accepted and understood. And it’s only then we will be able to grow past that hurt and never relive it again. And if it so happens that we relive it, we will have experience that won’t let us linger longer than healthy on them. Great post btw.

    Liked by 5 people

    • The term ‘flush out’ really does remind me of all the self-medication I’d done for pain. Not the best thing to do, definitely. How I could’ve benefited from these moments would be to stay in said pain and take the lessons I need, instead of trying to run away and end up feeling much worse when they finally catch up to me. Lovely comment. Thanks for your wonderful insights!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. If only we all had a time machine! I like to think our mistakes make us better people in the long run, as long as we learn from them. Now I kind of want to read your emo rants, hah! I’m sure I have some emo poetry from back in the day.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Haha. I’m so grateful that my emo era barely coincided with the growth of the internet, because who knows how many things I’d regret would otherwise be online now.

      Weirdly enough, I feel I wrote better without any constraints back then.

      And wouldn’t a time machine be a great thing to have indeed. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 4 people

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