Dating and Relationship Advice

As you may have seen on TikTok, an adorable 13-year-old pug named Noodle has been giving important forecasts for each day.

Here’s how it goes: If Noodle's dad, Jonathan, picks up Noodle and he stays standing, it’s a “bones day.” This means Noodle has bones in his body: the day can resume as normal and people will have the energy to get through it. But if Noodle plops back down, he “has no bones,” meaning people are “allowed” to take breaks and cancel plans.

In addition to being cute and silly, these videos can symbolize what relationships  look like on the days of planned dates. Sometimes partners go through with a predetermined outing. And other times, they don’t have the energy to see their partner and cancel.

So what do you do when you or your partner wants to cancel dates? What happens when this situation occurs over and over, or it happens right before a big date you’ve been dying to go on?

Talk about what you’re noticing with "I statements"

If your partner keeps claiming it’s a “no bones day” when you’re supposed to go on a date, bring up your reaction in a calm, non-accusatory way. Use "I statements,” like “I’ve noticed we aren’t….” and “I feel X when Y. Can we Z next time?” These statements can help you communicate more effectively without getting into a big fight or causing any defensiveness.

Come to a compromise

As with most relationship conflicts, your goal should be to compromise. Maybe you or your partner don’t want to go on the originally planned date, but you can do something else you’ll both enjoy. Maybe they can call a “no bones day” on this weekend’s date, but not next weekend’s. Maybe you’ll go on the date you had planned, but not stay for super long. You have all kinds of options when it comes to compromising!

Think about deeper issues that may be coming up

If you or your partner are canceling dates repeatedly, consider what might be really going on. Maybe it’s a struggle with depression or body image. Maybe it’s a financial issue. Maybe it’s communication difficulties. Finding the root issue — and addressing it accordingly — can help you fix the situation rather than just put a bandage on it.

Remember the importance of empathy

No matter how you and your partner handle your “bones days” not lining up, and no matter who’s having a “bones day” and who’s having a “no bones day,” try to stay empathetic. Actively listen to what the other person is feeling and what the other person needs. When you can mindfully listen with compassion, you can more easily and calmly handle difficult situations that arise.

Us versus the problem

My therapist has given me many helpful relationship skills and tools, but one of the most life-changing things she said was this: “Think ‘us versus the problem,’ not ‘you versus me.’” In other words, see the issue, not your partner, as what needs to be fixed. Work together, not against each other. Blame the situation, not each other. This is yet another way to have more helpful, compassionate conversations.

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