Don’t let your next relationship start where your last one ended.

Too many times I see people who jump into their next relationship already at the same stage that their previous relationship ended, the one that had been progressing for three years.

I’ve seen this often with women in their early 20s.

They’re the ones who can’t get on Facebook without seeing Brittany from high school has just gotten married and Brandy from college is having her second kid.

They start to feel like they’re missing out on something — that maybe they’re not where they should be in life.

I’m here to tell you, “You are wrong.”

You are not in the wrong phase of life or missing out.

Your time will come.

When you meet the next Joe down the road, slow down.

Remember those rules you had for your ex-boyfriend when you first started dating:

I don’t kiss on the first date.

I don’t spend the night at a guy’s house I just met.

I don’t want to take things any further just yet.

Hold on to those.

Maybe you’re tired of holding on to the single life or the dating life, and you want the big house with the four kids running around pulling at your pants leg, but don’t force it to happen.

Slow down.

Let yourself be reminded of the butterflies and the nerves that a new relationship holds. Hold on to that feeling.

Don’t jump into more than what you’re prepared for and turn your entire relationship into conversations revolving around when your next alone time will be.

Enjoy your first date, first kiss and the first time his hand reaches for yours.

Meet his parents and share a holiday with him.

Go on your first trip together.

Simply enjoy all the firsts that a relationship has to offer, and let it naturally progress into something that is pure and that will last.

Give it a chance.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com