It may sound like a simple concept to some, but knowing how to be in a relationship doesn't come easily to everyone. Some people jump right into relationships without hesitation, while others are much more comfortable being on their own. Especially if you're used to being single (and loving it), committing to a new relationship with someone can actually be a cause for concern.
If you're afraid of sacrificing your independence or losing your sense of self once you become one half of a couple, you're not alone. Starting a romantic relationship means adjusting to big and small changes from the single life you've grown accustomed to.
If you're looking for tips on how to adjust to being in a relationship after being single for a long time, there are a few important points to keep in mind. I spoke to two women who can relate: one who recently entered a new relationship after two years of being single, and another who was in a similar situation, but ultimately ended things with her partner. Here's what they each have to say about their own experiences, as well as advice on how you can maintain your freedom while in a healthy, loving relationship.
I know it's cliché, but age really does bring wisdom, in that I'm much more comfortable admitting who I am now to myself and to my partners. So I've been very honest about my concerns, like a fear of losing myself or not having enough personal space, and my partner has been very understanding. It's all very new still but in a few weeks, I'll embark on my second trip abroad without my partner and that's important to me. It's something I expressed a need to do to my partner and something I probably would have been too afraid to admit in the past. So I'm taking small steps to craft the type of relationship that works for me without shutting out the other person. Before the year's up, I’ll have taken two trips on my own but one with my partner, too.
— Sydnee, 26
Oh gosh, the independence! I was so used to doing things by myself. And my then-boyfriend was very clingy in the sense that he wanted us to spend a lot of time together, even studying or hanging with friends (he was a year older and a different major). I liked to hang one-on-one with my friends or study in my room by myself. I had to learn how to be with someone and not by myself. He got mad a couple of times because I asked for me time or because I wanted to run errands by myself. It was hard to give up that part of me. I got used to it in a sense and he did, too. I would go out with my friends to a club and then I would meet him to sleep together that night, or I would study by myself but go to his place when he wanted to study and I would read a book. It was about finding the right balance.
— Jessie*, 23
The early weeks of a relationship are exciting, but they may also challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. You may be surprised by what you like about being part of a couple, as well as what you initially struggle with. Getting used to a new relationship isn't always easy, but with these tips, you can voice your concerns and make sure your needs are met from the start.
*Name has been changed.
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