Every three years, my dad’s company organizes a Defensive Driving program through the NYSDMV and my family and most of my neighborhood always partakes in the classes. It’s convenient because my cousin teaches the class, it’s held right in my town in Queens, and in just 6 short hours, it helps reduce your insurance or knock points off your license. And it’s not like the classes are hard. It’s pretty much Drivers’ Ed all over again, reviewing the rules of the road, consequences of reckless behavior, and automobile safety tips. I recommend that all my friends take a class because you’re all shitty drivers.
Anyway, I attended the class last night with my dad, and while the information was definitely helpful and my cousin was an amazing teacher, I found myself doing a lot of doodling, daydreaming, or texting my friends. And as I sat listening to all this talk about “being proactive and not reactive” and “anticipating the irresponsible and destructive decisions of others,” I realized that a lot of these tips are applicable to more than just life behind the wheel, but life in general. And specifically, to the relationships we as young adults find ourselves in.
Okay, I admit I am by no means an expert on relationships, and probably anyone who knows me can attest that I couldn’t follow my own advice if it dragged me behind it on a leash. But just in case any of you do find wisdom in any help that I give you, read on, as I unleash the creative brilliance that is my next blog post.
Defensive Driving vs Relationships
- Defensive Driving: Before pulling out of a parking spot and onto the road for the first time, be sure to look all around you and be aware of your surroundings.
- Relationships: Before getting involved in a relationship for the first time, be sure to examine the way this other person acts and be aware of your surroundings.
Are you going to be entering into a healthy relationship? Is this someone who has a lot of friends, someone who is well liked? Do your research! You wouldn’t pull out of your driveway without checking all your mirrors, or start driving a car that you weren’t sure worked properly. Be sure that the moves you’re making are smart ones, and don’t be afraid to do a little investigating first. Future you will thank present you. Who I guess by that point would be past you. But whatever.
- Defensive Driving: It’s important not to exceed the speed limit; yet, be sure to always maintain a speed above the posted minimum.
- Relationships: It’s important not to move too fast in a relationship; yet, be sure to keep things moving and not to drag your feet too much.
I’m sure most of us have been in situations where someone took things too seriously too fast (OMG, baby, can you believe it’s already our second week-iversary?) or where someone just moved too slowly. While you don’t want to rush into anything, doing the shy pull-away when he tries to kiss you after like, the 7th date, isn’t really going to progress things at all. Just feel it out, go with the flow.
- Defensive Driving: Regular maintenance checks will prevent major mishaps on the road.
- Relationships: Regular conversations will prevent major arguments down the road.
Okay, from what I see in every single one of the relationships around me is that no one ever has conversations about ANYTHING until they’ve been pissed about it for weeks. THAT WOULD BE LIKE if you were getting really low on gas, ignored it for days on end, and then all of a sudden you ran out and your car just died right there on the street (Which actually happened to me last year and I felt like such an idiot…thanks Andy for picking me up). I understand people don’t want to be confrontational. But bringing up minor issues while they’re still, well, minor issues probably isn’t such a bad idea. Especially when the alternative is to say nothing, let it go, and then have some kind of major breakdown that even AAA can’t fix.
- Defensive Driving: Anticipate the behaviors and mistakes of others.
- Relationships: Anticipate the reactions and possible mistakes of others.
It’s pretty easy to anticipate the actions of others and to learn how to take preventative measures to ensure that they won’t become serious issues. This is why it’s important to (see above cough cough) examine your surroundings before committing. So they have a bit of a temper when they drink. Or they’re very into their football team and commit every Sunday to the couch, the NY Jets, and beer. Or they’re a big momma’s boy and to them, nothing is better than her chicken parm. Be proactive. If he gets a little testy one night at the bar, either let it slide or back off, and avoid a fight. If you know that Sunday is football day, don’t suggest a “couple’s day with cuddling and movies!” since you already know it’s not going to happen. And don’t, I mean don’t try to out-cook his mom. There isn’t a worse way to impress her than by stealing her baby boy AND her recipe.
- Defensive Driving: Cell phones and other passengers are major distractions while driving.
- Relationships: Cell phones (not really but go with it) and other people can be major distractions while in a relationship.
This one’s a stretch but just read on. While it’s important to always listen to what your friends and family have to say about your relationship, letting them take the wheel and steer you entirely in a different direction is not how to ensure a smooth ride. Focus on the road in front of you, and don’t let others’ input distract you too much, especially if you never asked for it. If you need directions, or advice, your friends along for the ride can and should help you. But no one likes a backseat driver. You do you. (And your significant other, I guess. 😉 )
- Defensive Driving: Even if you think you can get behind the wheel after a few drinks, you can’t.
- Relationships: Even if you think it’s a good idea to have a serious talk after a few drinks, it’s not.
This is other thing I see all the time when I look at couples around me. Alcohol hits the lips, and it’s like they’ve completely lost control. Their judgement is completely altered, they’re not making sense, they can’t see far enough ahead of them to make smart decisions, and they’re in danger of being part of a serious catastrophe, hurting themselves and everyone around them. While alcohol can be fun and allow for some silly stories, it can also be disastrous for a couple. You wouldn’t want to end up with a BWI (break-up while intoxicated).
- Defensive Driving: On a long drive, have someone with you who can take over the wheel if you get too tired.
- Relationships: In a long relationship, have someone who will be there for you and support you when you’re down.
Relationships are a two way street, and if one person is taking the brunt of the drive, providing all the support, all the time, they’re going to get tired. Tired of being the only one who decides which way you’ll turn, when to speed things up, when to slow down, and when to hit the breaks and cruise for a while. Make sure you share in decision making and switch off once and a while or that one single driver is going to be the one who gets to decide when the trip is over.
- Defensive Driving: If your car isn’t working after you’ve tried to get it fixed multiple times, you may want to move on to a newer and more attractive model.
- Relationships: Self-explanatory.
So I might’ve stretched the last one a bit, but it’s true. And this is the one piece of advice that I’m qualified to give from experience. If it’s not working, just leave it behind you. You can try to fix things as many times as you like, but after a while, you’re just going to need to get rid of that old piece of junk and upgrade to the model that’s going to take you further – getting you there faster, and in style.
So that’s my lesson for the day, everybody!
Safe travels 🙂