Understanding how we form and maintain relationships is an important part of being a man. No man can make it entirely on his own, and we all need help sometimes. We need to know how to deal with bosses, coworkers, friends, people on the street, and our romantic interests.
Thankfully, there is a lot of advice available for young men looking for the confidence and authenticity they need to meet new people and leave positive first impressions. Especially for the dating scene, the internet is rife with advice on how to start relationships.
But what happens after that? Knowing how to ace the interview is great, but sustaining that positive relationship and turning it into something meaningful and productive is an entirely different situation. Which is why today, I’m going to teach you how to find your copilot.
Before I get any further, let me introduce myself. I’m Asher Stephenson. I’m a copywriter, blogger, web designer, and perfumier based out of southern Wisconsin. I’ve worked every kind of job imaginable, and I like to joke that I lead a pretty illogical life.
And, to be totally honest, almost all of my success is due to the support of my copilot, Jana. She and I have known each other and worked together for over four years now. We’ve ran newspapers together, headed debate groups together, co-edit all of each other’s articles, and design colognes and aftershaves.
To us, a copilot is someone important to you that you can work with, live with, and generally Get Things Done with.
They’re your partner and main support, and even when you’re immeasurably frustrated with each other, the two of you can still put your shoulders to the stone and push. Our relationship is a romantic one, but not all copilots need to be romantically involved. In short, think ‘power couple.’
If you’re single, and reading this article because you’re struggling to find satisfying long-term relationships, the idea of finding a copilot can be daunting. You’re asking me to find a copilot? I’d be lucky to find a flight attendant. Don’t worry. I’m going to show you how finding your copilot is actually easier than you think.
First, the rules:
Rule #1: Be You
The first thing you need to do is be you. You need to own your every trait and every fault, and never, not for a single second, pretend to be anything more than who you are. Putting up a front when you first meet someone is just a wall that you’ll eventually have to tear down. To the other person, you may be nothing like what they thought you were.
You’re a man. You’re not perfect. But you are strong, dedicated, and willing to do whatever it takes to make yourself better. That’s who you are, and that’s all you need to be.
Rule #2: Take Your Time
Jana and I have known each other and have been working together for years, but the romantic facet of our lives together is relatively recent. When you’re building the foundation of your relationship with your copilot, forget rushing into the traditional trappings. Take your time, get to know how you work together, and let the rest happen organically. Being impatient can kill a working relationship. You need a foundation first.
This isn’t a rule about being sexually conservative, though. Building a partnership takes a lot more effort and time than building a sexual rapport. The difference between ‘just dating’ and ‘she’s my partner’ is huge, and this advice is as applicable to new relationships as it is to single guys.
Rule #3: Expect Strong Personalities To Clash
Now this rule is an important one because it will affect your expectations a lot. Strong personalities have strong opinions, and you can’t expect your copilot to agree with everything you say. They’re going to be dedicated to their goals and to their values, and there’s going to come a time when the two of your are going to disagree so vehemently that it’ll feel like you’d level a city block if you fought.
And that’s a good thing.
Jana calls me on my bullshit all the time. She prodded me into sitting down and writing this article this morning because she knew I wouldn’t have as much time as I thought I did this evening. She’s the one who points out when I’m wrong, when I forget to do things, and when I should be doing better than I am. But because we know how to work together, we’re both the better for it. Never discount someone you argue with. Those arguments might make you a better person.
Now that we have those three rules down about what to expect when you find a copilot, here’s how you actually find one:
Engage With Your Community
Every town has a community. If you’re near a city, I can guarantee there’s at least one group of people who love to do the same things you do. Whether you’re a writer, a maker, a marketer, or a tabletop gamer, there are people out there who share your passions. Find them, engage with them, and be a community member. In order to be a man, you should be willing and able to lead. If you apply that strength to your personal life, you will be able to form deeper and longer lasting relationships with friends and romantic partners alike. The only way you’ll find your copilot, is if you’re out there doing what you love.
As a general rule, though, people can tell when you’ve joined a group just to ‘hunt for women.’ It’s an awkwardly palpable sense of ‘I’m just here so you can leave with me,’ and it does a disservice to everyone who’s there for the sake of the hobby itself. You need to be a community member first and a single guy second, in order to find a partner worthy of your time and respect.
I met Jana because I was a leader, but we started working together because I Do Things.
When you Do Things, you make a point of setting an aggressive pace and tracking milestones. I love cooking, but rather than just make the occasional awesome meal, I develop new recipes, write them down, refine them over time, and share them with my family. Our relationship progressed from professional to personal when I brought her into that project. She started as a taste-tester, and soon turned into my note taker and go-to reference whenever I hit a roadblock.
Just as it’s important to do things in your community, it’s also important to have personal projects and hobbies. Netflix and Chill is fine for rainy days, but if you’re looking for someone who can hold a prominent place in your life, someone that you’re going to rely on and invest in, you need to know that the two of you can work together. If you’re interested in someone, invite them to Do Something with you. Relationships are built action, not relaxation.
Find Shared Goals
If you want to know someone, ask what industry they work in. Not where they work or who they work for; focus on the industry. If they’re a career-minded person, they’re going to talk about their goals, and their plans to achieve them. That’s the kind of person you want to date.
If you’ve found someone in your community that you mesh with, progressing from shared interests to shared goals can be an organic process. Whether they’re focused on advancing their career or starting a family, knowing where you both want to be in five years helps a relationship grow. For Jana and I, we’re committed to us both being writers and we’re working together to make that happen. We’re committed to achieving our goals together, and those shared goals make us excellent copilots.
When you’re young, knowing what your goals are can be hard. But by having someone with you who is as committed to finding your goals as you are can make the difference between success and failure. By looking for a partner based on your functional compatibility rather than the traditional measures, you’ll be able to find a relationship that’s meaningful and long lasting. If you’re already in a relationship and you want to make sure it’ll go the distance, following the copilot’s rules and minding the above tips will help you transform that relationship into something that’s even more valuable.
Being a man is about more than just one-night stands. Knowing what you want out of your relationships and knowing how to improve them will help you be the kind of man, and the kind of leader, you’ve always wanted to be. Honesty, patience, and a willingness to deal with strong personalities will take you far. As long as you remember to be an accessible and engaged member of your community who is willing to bring new people into your personal projects and set shared goals, your road to success will be smoother than you can imagine.
Asher Stephenson is a copywriter, blogger, and perfumier based out of southern Wisconsin. It’s his job to do something different every day. Asher, alongside his copilot and editor Jana Luurtsema, run illogical.life, a lifestyle blog that tries to make being young, broke, and stupid a bit more bearable for everyone. Their small batch colognes and aftershaves are available locally in the Madison area.