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Stay In Your Own Lane: 5 Relationship Rules On The Highway Of Love

What the Hell does “Stay in Your Own Lane” even mean??

If you are like me, you may have been driving for several decades, and have probably driven millions of miles. I have. You probably have driven outside your own country, and even on the “wrong” side of the street! Hopefully, you have avoided any major collisions or accidents, and the best way to assure that is to follow what we call the “Rules of the Road.” 

Stay in Your Own Lane is a book, a guide, for men to understand these more complex creatures known as women. Though it may be a little tongue in cheek, I hope it does offer you some sage advice from a man who’s lived 66 years, been married for 27 of them, and had a fair number of relationships before then, and after that ended when I was 59 years old. 

I am not a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or marriage counselor, and truthfully, I started the whole “women thing” late in my life. My first kiss was at age 16, I lost my virginity at 19, and married later than many, to a woman seven years older and two marriages ahead of me. 

Our perspective on relationships are modeled and patterned after what we were exposed to in our early lives. That includes early childhood, and whether love was abundant or scarce. How was your relationship with your Mother? Your Father? Were they both equal? Probably not. Our experiences and memories with siblings and the order of yours is important since it affects our viewpoints of sharing, cooperation, and many other things. 

We have our strengths; we have our weaknesses. We bring along our skills, abilities, and our challenges, plus our fears. And we also bring our good life and relationship experiences to the table, as well as our baggage. We don’t forget our pain and carry our suffering as well as our joys and our heartbreaks. 

I used to joke about how simple men were and how complex women were. I compared men to a six-sided wooden block or a set of dice; six sides. You roll the die, and it lands on one of six numbers. There is nothing in between.

You will never get a 5.25 on a roll, or a seven, which makes the likelihood of “understanding” men much more simple. But women? When God (possibly a woman) created these lovely creatures, He made them much more complex than a wooden block, and I used a Rubik’s cube as a comparison. Simply put: Men are pretty simple, whereas women are much more complex. 

We (men) can ask a woman a question or expect an outcome with a small number of possibilities. But on any given day a woman can come up with many more scenarios than we could have imagined. 

This sometimes became a topic of humor and an occasional head butting with my love. If I got in her face or tried to overly help or take over, I was cautioned to stay in my own lane. Everyone in the world at some point gets in someone else’s lanes.

It’s part of being human.

By this point we should know how to drive, and therefore understand the rules of the road. It’s important to know about stopping, starting, turning, and watching out for the other guy, right? If you don’t? Car wreck. 

Using that analogy, the rules of the road in a car can be compared to the relationship rules on the highway of love.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs! So Many Signs!

There are three basic types of signs: 

  • Regulatory
  • Warning 
  • And Suggestions or Guides

Regulatory signs are the most insistent.

Stop Sign

stay in your own lane

This most demanding road sign tells you to STOP:  it is not a suggestion!!  

This sign is as simple as it gets. Whether driving down a country road or a city block, there are road rules to follow. Four way stops have their rules which dictate who goes first when someone is coming in all directions. 

With relationship STOP signs, the rules are also simple. When a woman says “stop,” that is what she means. That includes any type of abuse or physical violence and goes into less violent ways from there.

Stop can also mean the physical act of stopping a certain annoying habit, like, “Stop leaving the toilet seat up, idiot!,” or maybe something less caustic… I say this in humor, but truth is, almost every relationship runs into friction due to certain habits of the other person.

For me, I am guilty of some of the following:

I don’t always pay attention when she speaks, and this may be a genetic flaw in many men who have the same issue. That’s my scientific explanation, but WE (men) sometimes live in our own world, a “man box,” and in that space we tune things out. I have spent many hours in that box… 

Along with the “not paying attention,” comes the “not remembering,” which makes sense because, after all, how can we remember what we never heard in the first place? 

“Did you remember to pick up the laundry/ food/ car/ kids?” can all leave me moments after they are asked. I may remember obscure facts or the last time we went on vacation, but some things—gone as they are spoken, into a black hole of forgetfulness.

The “stop” sign has variations and other signs may work with it.

Yield

stay in your own lane

This sign cautions you to be careful, and is a recommendation, rather than a hard rule. 

In the relationship world, that yield warning shows up quite often and has a big RED FLAG tied to it. Think of the questions you get asked, or the things you say, that could possibly lead to a crash.

Does this dress make me look fat?” is a commonly asked question, a cliché, and a punchline of jokes. But we’ll look at it in earnest.  

The answer to that question is NEVER YES, even if the dress is not flattering. Regardless of whether she is overweight to begin with, some clothes just are not becoming!

A relationship YIELD sign can also be a form of capitulation, ie, letting her have her way. You might really want a burger tonight, but she insists on seafood. If you MUST have your beef, hold your ground, but if you want to get laid tonight, let her have her seafood.  

Caution: Slow Down

slow down

On the road, this is self-explanatory: slow the fuck down! 

This is an intentionally vague suggestion, unless there is a number attached. “Slow down to 45” is as simple as it gets and if you don’t understand that, you should not be driving. There are many not so brilliant people who get into relationships and they cannot even take care of themselves, let alone another person. That lacking is not limited to raw intelligence, and many smart people lack emotional intelligence. They are book smart and can take care of themselves, but when it comes to their emotions– clueless. 

Slow down is a keeper and stays with us even into our later years. I call it “getting ahead of myself,” and I have had to hit the brakes many times. Even today I find that I can get angry over a conversation and lash out, which is a horrible thing to do. Sometimes that inner child, still there, wants to be heard, and they can make a fool of us.

Emotions are a funny thing, and can be very unpredictable. My emotions sometimes get in the way of my common sense, so when enticed by ideas that may not be smart…slow the fuck down. 

That especially includes excessive flirting with someone other than your wife…If you think It’s a Bad Idea…it is a Bad Idea. 

Sometimes my emotions get triggered other ways. She may say something that I take the wrong way, and instead of replying to a question, I react to it. That never ends well and can start a multi-car pileup …

One-Way Signs

On the road, these are pretty self-explanatory, and I have followed my own one-way sign many times in my life, including in relationships. Arguments end poorly when I stand on my selfish pulpit and state “I’m right and you’re wrong.” That’s ego speaking guys, and it will fuck you over if you let it have too much control.

Ideally, relationships are a 50/50 proposition, and a mutual consensus should be found. The word is Compromise, with both sides happy with the outcome and both sides agree to that. 

“My way or the highway,” can be humorous, but in relationships it’s a total disaster. Many relationships have been founded on attitudes like this. The “man is boss” mindset has been hardwired into many men since the dawn of time, and that battle of equality has continued ever since. Even today, many men still think it’s “my way or the highway.”

Relationships should be based on equality, and working together, as a team and not two individuals, is a non-stop effort. For some it comes easily, but not for everyone. If you’ve been raised with siblings, this comes naturally, though not always easily.

Don’t make light of the “One Way” sign! This sign that we can take for granted, could be one of the most important road signs out there.

No Signal, No Warning

no signal

Sometimes there is NO signal, so be aware! Keep your head up, eyes open and prepare for anything. In relationships I wish there WAS a signal or some kind of warning! 

People can do things that surprise us, regardless of their sex. Sometimes my gal has done or questioned or said something totally out of the blue, and I had no idea where that thought came from. Many times it came from ME, something I said or didn’t say, and it could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted. And sometimes I said exactly what I intended but her reaction was not. Relationships can be hard to figure sometimes, so get used to it if you haven’t by now.

The Road Best Traveled (There’s Still Time…)

The highway of relationships can be precarious and just as dangerous as any road situation we may put ourselves in. 

Some people are smart at an early age, and they follow their gut and have insight to what is happening both inside and outside their bodies. Some are intelligent, easier to quantify with tests, and not the same as smart. We all would like to think that we have both and yet develop a third type of intellect.

It’s called Wisdom.

It rarely comes early and cannot be measured. It’s the accumulation of years, decades, of experiences. The good and the bad. The wins and the losses. We learn that life is not always fair, and sometimes painful. Ironically, those painful moments can be educational and beneficial as well.

Wisdom in love is a good thing!

All this is well and good, and I hope you become better drivers after reading all this wisdom! But one thing I can tell you is a smart Rule of the Road is Stay in Your Own Lane.

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About The Author
Norm Bour
Norm Bour
Norm Bour is one of our regular contributors and for the past two years he has been a Traveling Nomad after leaving the US permanently with his girlfriend at ages 64 and 66. They traveled through Europe and Asia and were together 24/7 which offered a great chance to know each other; both the good and the bad.

Stay in Your Own Lane came from an expression they used to make sure that each of them gave each other space, and Norm compared that concept of the Relationship Highway with the Road Highways we have been driving for years, and all the signs we see there.

Norm will be publishing Stay in your Own Lane within the next few weeks and invites all our readers to share their experiences which may relate to the premise of the book. If you would like to contribute or get an advanced copy, contact Norm at [email protected].
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