We Asked A Matchmaker Your Biggest Relationship Questions & They Held Nothing Back

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

Sometimes relationships feel like we're all just pawning off our accumulated baggage on one another: Someone screws you over, hurts your feelings, and you take that slight an pass it off to someone else. Sometimes, it feels like we're all just messing each other up, and it would be so nice to have some kind of all-knowing, objective third party to guide us. Some who would mediate our spats, answer our relationship questions, and gently let us know when we're being little monsters, seeding unnecessary chaos into our personal lives. A kind of on-call relationship coach, but without the cost or time commitment.

Well, recently, curious and confused lovers could access precisely this service, free of charge. Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, Three Day Rule offered a matchmaker hotline, stationing its love experts by the phone to answer your burningest questions about romance. What is Three Day Rule, you ask? A personal matchmaking service that spent the past three days handing out 15-minute phone sessions to anyone who called. Duh.

I don't know about you, but I love free things. I also love having my questions anticipated and answered before I have to raise them myself. So consulting both your most frequently Googled relationship questions, and the mental list of dating-related SEO articles I've written this year, I brainstormed a list of very common sex- and love-related topics. Then, I called up Erika Kaplan, a TDR regional manager and senior matchmaker, and asked her about all of them in a rapid-fire interview. Not so surprisingly, one common quandary eclipsed all of mine, in terms of popularity: How to maximize your online dating potential.

"I’m finding that we’re getting a lot of questions about how to make an impression online," Kaplan tells Bustle. "Online dating can be pretty impersonal, and there’s so many 'fish in the sea,' so people really want to make sure that their profiles are representing them the way they want to be represented, and their photos are doing the same. People really want to know how they should be crafting messages."

And if you want to know more about that, too, check out this handy list of profile grooming tips to help you take advantage of summer's sexiest day. (Purportedly July 8, if you didn't know now you know.)

Anyway, do you want to know how to move on? How to make your long-distance relationship work? How to know if your partnership is hurtful or healthy? How to ask out your crush? How to tell if your relationship has run its course? Whether or not you can actually stay friends with your ex? How to get out of a rut? How to salvage the remains of your ailing connection? Of course you do, who wouldn't? Read on for Kaplan's answers to the internet's most asked romance questions.

1How Do I Get Over My Ex?

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"The straightforward answer is you need to make sure that you’re getting back out there, but you need to make sure you’re getting back out there when you’re truly ready to be your full happy self. Take a second to really take care of yourself. Oftentimes, when you’re in a relationship — and especially if you’re in a relationship that isn’t so healthy — you tend to lose yourself and lose your real sense of independence in activities. So the first thing you need to do is make sure you know who you are.

I’m getting a lot of these calls on this hotline over the past couple of days as well: What do I need to do to make sure that I’m putting myself out there after a breakup? You really need to make sure that you can be a full happy person before you can be a full, happy partner to someone, so that means dating yourself for a second — especially if it’s a long-term relationship you’re getting out of. That means fostering a hobby, taking a class you always wanted to take, if you love to read and you haven’t gotten around to it because you were always sleeping at your [partner’s] house or whatever it was, open a book you’ve been meaning to read. It just means taking care of yourself before you can put yourself back out there and actually be a confident dater."

2How Do I Make A Long-Distance Relationship Work?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"Absence does make the heart grow fonder. There’s actually a lot of upsides to that and a lot of positives. However, communication is going to be really key. With long-distance relationships, every time you get together it’s kind of a special occasion, which is a really beautiful thing, but in some ways makes your relationship move a lot faster than it might if you were in the same city: You can go for a drink for two hours on a Tuesday and then meet again for a walk on a Saturday. When you’re doing a long-distance relationship, it’s like overload really quickly, because every time you see each other, you’re with each other 24/7.

I think it’s a matter of making sure you’re communicating a lot throughout the week and sharing the mundane together. That’s really what a relationship is often times, right? A relationship is sharing a lot of insignificant, mundane moments. So communication, whether that’s texting or phone calls or video Skyping or FaceTime or whatever it is, it’s really important that you have that throughout the week so you’re not just having these 'special occasions' together."

3How Do I Ask Someone Out On A Date?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"First impression is everything, and the first impression is actually getting to that date. It’s before the date even happens. ... The easiest way to get offline is exchanging about five messages or text messages. It’s really important to not lose momentum and to actually just say, ‘You seem cool, I’d love to get a drink.’ It should be casual: It makes the stakes feel a lot lower, and a lot less daunting and a lot less scary of a scenario. Something as simple as, ‘You seem cool, I’d love to continue this conversation over a drink’. ... [Be] accommodating to their schedule and their community and their neighborhood, so the easiest way ... to seem proactive and accommodating and take initiative is by asking, ‘OK, great, what area do you live in, or where’s your office, I’m happy to find a bar or a restaurant around there’. And then it is really important ... to make a couple of suggestions based off that. Courtesy is a lost art."

4How Do You Know A Relationship Is Over?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"We know that ghosting is a pretty huge phenomenon right now, so if you’re finding that you’re putting in a lot more effort to get in touch with your 'partner' than they are, then that’s a telltale sign that things are over or fading.

Another really important way to tell if a relationship is over is, are you having a conversation about values and goals and finding that you’re really mismatched in that way? Especially for a long-term relationship, it’s so important that you share these intangibles or life goals. Three or four or five dates in, if you talk about where you really want to live in a few years, or kids or marriage or family comes up, and you’re really off-base and mismatched, then I think that’s a telltale sign of the relationship not ready to move forward."

5Should You Stay Friends With Your Ex?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"My gut says no. I think that it’s more likely for your friend to become your [partner], rather than your [partner] to become your friend. I do think that at some point, you reach this point of no return, but ultimately, it depends on how vulnerable you were with that person and how amicably it ended and how different you really are. Maybe it just wasn’t a romantic compatibility but you have a lot in common.

There are a lot of people who, a couple months in, realize 'I’m dating this person and I really like hanging out with them, but we have absolutely no chemistry and no physical connection and would be better off as friends.' I think if you have that chemistry, that vulnerability, that intimacy, it’s going to be really really difficult for you to turn that into a friendship."

6What Does A Toxic Relationship Look Like?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"The best example of a toxic relationship is one where you don’t feel like you can be yourself. I was recently talking to a woman — not a client, but actually through this hotline — who was dating a guy for a few weeks, and she said he was probably the most attractive guy she’s ever dated and she’s so interested, but she really feels like it’s more lust than it is love. She’s finding that she’s this really insecure, not really trusting person who’s calling way too much and she’s really not feeling like she’s being her best self. I think the most toxic relationships are the ones where you don’t feel like you’re being your best self. ... A classic unhealthy relationship is where you both drain each other to the point where you’re not good with each other and you’re not good without each other."

7What Does A Healthy Relationship Look Like?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"I think the healthy relationships are the ones where you’re both independent, and you lead full, happy lives separately, and you come together as this awesome duo. ... You can come together to be a better version of both of you. You really have to be with someone who supports you, builds you up, and brings out the best in you. The second you feel like your relationship is draining you, you’re in a relationship you probably shouldn’t be in."

8How Do You Fix Relationship Boredom?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"There are lots of ways. Relationships that end up in a rut are people who are just going through the motions. Relationships take work, right? You can’t expect for it to continue to grow and be there if you don’t nourish it. Oftentimes, that means starting a hobby together, doing something that’s out of both of your comfort zones, because that adrenaline is really important physically. Doing something together that you are both experiencing for the same time is a really good way to keep that fire alive."

9How Do You Save Your Relationship?

Andrew Zaeh/Bustle

"The easiest answer and honestly the truest answer is communication. I think [people] have this notion that the other person should just know how they feel, like, 'If you know me at all, you’ll know that I would feel this way or you’ll know that I can react this way.'

The fact is, we’re not superheroes and we’re not mind-readers, so I’m going to go with a good old-fashioned answer of communication. You need to communicate with your partner how you’re feeling and what’s missing. And you need to do it from a really compassionate, respectful place: Good partnerships are built on respect, mutual respect, so you need to make sure that when you are doing this communication, you’re doing it in a way that isn’t resentful and is constructive."