The 8 Dating and Relationship Tips I Would Give My 18 Year Old Self.

If I could go back in time and find an empty room with two chairs, one for me and one for 18-year-old me, what would I tell him?  I have experienced so many things since then that I really would have a hard time choosing where to start.

See, I grew up in a home where I wasn’t taught much of anything when it came to manhood.  I grew up in a household where my parents didn’t stress college, they really only stressed religion which was taught from the point of view of the typical inner-city church that focused on a false prosperity gospel.  I wasn’t taught about the importance of managing my finances, well, besides making sure I paid my tithes every Sunday.   No “Birds and the bees” in our home. I learned about sex from hacking into the Playboy Channel and watching porn at the age of 14. and the only sex education I got from my parents was “Keep it in your pants”. My stepfather was in the home, but we wasn’t present.  He really didn’t teach me anything about being a man.  Actually, he taught me absolutely nothing besides a few sports facts.  For years I resented him for it, but he couldn’t teach me because these are things he was never taught. So I forgave.

So if I had a time machine and could sit my 18-year-old self down what would I tell him? I would teach him the same things I now teach my 18 and 16-year-old sons.   First, I would start with the subject of dating and relationships.

1. You Will Be Heartbroken. This Is Normal, It’s Not The End Of The World.

When I was younger, I was definitely more focused than I should have been on finding a girlfriend. For a long time, I equated being in a relationship with self-worth and happiness.  Worse yet, I would get emotionally attached to girls that I shouldn’t have.  Knowing absolutely nothing about women I was the proverbial “Nice Guy” which often led to me being heartbroken a lot.  What I didn’t know, is that I was looking for somebody else to make me happy, instead of finding happiness within myself. I had low self-esteem because I was looking for outward approval instead of looking within myself.

I would tell 18-year-old me that having a girlfriend and “falling in love” should be the last thing on your mind. You have your entire life ahead of you and you need to focus on what matters. What mattered is school, not “What’s-Her-Name”.  Focus on your grades and going to college. Focus on your career. Girls can wait.  This, of course, brings me to my next point.

2. Stop Crying Over One Girl.

The population of the United States in 1992 was roughly 250 million people.  I would tell my 18-year-old self to raise his right hand as high as he can and can slap himself. Dude, that girl you’re heartbroken over, she’ll be pregnant by some other guy in six months (I remember her and it happened). Trust me, you don’t need that type of drama in your life.  Yeah, I know she’s fine as hell, I get it. But she doesn’t think about you.  While you are wasting time and energy giving control of your emotional happiness to her, she’s living her life. You need to live yours.  There are plenty other fish in the sea, but be careful where you fish. There will be other girls, but don’t be stupid over them either. Pick up your self-esteem and move on.  Stop wasting your life, focusing on people who are a non-factor. You will meet plenty of women. Stop losing your mind over that one.

3. Learn The Difference Between Love And Infatuation.

Dude, you’re 18. You have never been in love. Recognizing the difference between Love and Infatuation will save you literally years of grief and pain.

I remember being easily infatuated with any young woman that was slightly attractive and showed me any attention.  The thing about being infatuated is that it makes you do stupid things. And trust me, I’ve done a lot of stupid things because of infatuation.

What do you do when you’re infatuated? You compromise your morals, you put up with bad attitudes, and you become desperate for even a second of attention.  Yes, it’s as pathetic as it sounds. That makes infatuation dangerous and I’ve known people that make decisions that affect the rest of their lives because they confuse infatuation with love.

I didn’t truly learn the difference between love and infatuation until I was in my 40’s.  I look back at the crap I would have never put up with had I recognized the difference.  Knowing what I know now, I’m much better off and I guard my heart whenever I feel infatuation coming on.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s normal to be infatuated at first.  She’s someone new, beautiful, and she appears to be into you. It’s exciting stuff. But what you’re feeling isn’t love.  Infatuation can last no more than 18 months tops. Keep your emotions in check and chill.

Click here to read my article on infatuation. "Save Yourself From Heartbreak. The 8 Warning Signs That You Are Dangerously Infatuated."

4. Don’t Let Others Decide Who You Should Be In A Relationship With.

Ok, here’s the breakdown. I grew up in a church that was very controlling.  They shunned even the thought of you having a girlfriend because to them you’re too young to be responsible enough to not have unprotected sex. They would tell you to wait for God to “Send you someone”.  Well, this isn’t biblical at all. Nowhere in the bible does it say God will “Send” you anyone.  The following verse is proof of that.

Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.”

Note the word “Find” there?  That means you need to search. And the choice of who you get with is yours, not theirs.

What I saw in this “church” was nothing short of arranged marriages and complete manipulation. What would happen is when two people are interested in each other, they were rushed into marriage before they even got a chance to really know one another.  They were infatuated, not in love, and forced to get married.  This is totally backward and a recipe for heartache and disaster. I can tell you that within 5 years, most of the young people I saw being forced into these pseudo-arranged marriages were divorced, leaving behind broken homes and emotionally destroyed children.  One guy married a woman, divorced her, and later married her best friend.  Another had one young woman pregnant while at the same time marrying another the church. How sick and twisted is that?! Don’t allow other people decide who you marry and when.  You need time to get to know a person before you commit to marriage.   And why get married at 18, 19, or 20?  Go to college, travel, live life.

 5. Don’t Get With Women Just For Sex. 

I know you have friends that brag about the number of women they’ve been with.  Let me tell you that this only shows how empty and pathetic they are.  It’s not about quantity, but quality.  By quality mean having that one woman that makes you feel special and respects herself and you. To have a quality woman you need to be a quality man.  I know couples that didn’t have sex until their honeymoon.  These people are still together and happy.  I also know guys in their 40’s bragging about the number of women they have slept with while at the same time crying about the amount of child support they have to pay.  They put up a macho disguise to cover up the fact that they are alone, empty, and unhappy.

Don’t be the douche boy that walks around bragging about the women he’s slept with and sharing pics with his guys.  I know some will think sleeping with as many women as possible makes you a man, but it doesn’t. It makes you stupid and it makes you a jackass.  There are too many people dying from diseases such as AIDS and too many kids raised in homes where the father is absent because people are going around having casual sex and being reckless. Don’t be reckless, that’s what boys do.  Be a man, be responsible.  Don’t leave a trail of broken hearts, broken homes, and broken children because you had ne self-control.

Here is what the bible says about men that don’t care for their children.


1 Timothy 5:8

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

6. Stay Away From Porn.

Yes, I said stop watching porn.  I know there are people that will tell you that this is normal and harmless. Well, they’re all wrong.  There have been studies done which show that watching porn releases the same chemicals in the brain that drugs do, and can actually be more addicting.  Not only that, you become emotionally unattached and when you eventually meet the right girl, you’ll only treat her like a piece of meat. Once again, you’ll be more concerned with quantity over quality.  Would you ever become addicted crack or alcoholic?  Well becoming addicted to porn is pretty much the same thing.  Still believe it’s harmless?  Tell that to the thousands of girls trafficked as sex slaves to be pimped by pieces of trash and sold to sleazy men.  Think about if you would want your daughter being put in that situation. If your answer is no (and it should be) then stop supporting those that would put your daughter in that situation.

If you want to read more on this subject click here to view the Cambridge University study "Your Brain on Porn".

7. Respect Women, But Also Respect Yourself.

I am a strong believer in respecting women. You don’t put your hands on them and you don’t mistreat them. But I am also a firm believer that you should also be respected.  What I mean is this. If she deliberately tries to embarrass you in public, if she doesn’t respect boundaries when it comes to “friends” of the opposite sex, if she is texting her ex-boyfriend while sitting on your sofa (this happened to me), do NOT put up with it.  Break it off and walk away.  You don’t need to put up with disrespect and you don’t need to put up with pugnacious attitudes. EVER.

8. Good Girls Don’t Like Bad Boys. Bad Girls Like Bad Boys

There is a saying that “Good girls like bad boys.”  Well, let me tell you that’s a load of crap.  The truth is “Bad girls like bad boys’.  They aren’t good girls just because they are popular and pretty.  They like bad boys because they like to do the same things bad boys do. Trust me when I tell you a person that is always partying, drinking, doing drugs, and having sex with anyone within arm’s reach isn’t a good person. They are a person that needs help. They are looking for something in their spirit and trying to satisfy a void with temporary pleasure.  You don’t need that type of girl. Just because they are popular and pretty, doesn’t mean they are someone you need to associate with.  Do what you love and eventually, you will find a girl that loves those same things.  Remember when I said be careful where you fish?  Don’t fish in a cesspool. The fish you catch there will only make you sick.


Terrell Cotton Pic

Terrell Cotton is a motivational blogger and a full-time single father of two boys who are his heart and soul.  His blog,, is dedicated to helping people become better versions of themselves by building on principles of mindfulness, self-love, and positive self-esteem. Know thyself, Love thyself.




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1 Comment

  • These are great! I feel the same on a lot of these. All that time wasted crying over a failed relationship and the fear of being forever alone. I wish I could just tell myself at 18 to be patient, and enjoy the ride, because eventually I will have everything I ever dreamed of and more. Awesome read!

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