No one told me it was going to be this way.
Not that this is a bad way; it’s just that no one really tells you about some of the ups and downs that you’ll experience in your first real relationship. Your annoying friend who is always making updates about your relationship status on Facebook and Twitter forgot to mention a few things.
I am in a relationship now and here are 8 things no one ever told me about being in a relationship.
1. You will feel like you have split personalities.
Before He came along, I was an interesting person with an array of interests. Spoken word, apple picking, dancing, kickboxing, traveling and blogging were all part of my life. I spent a lot of my free time with friends and family. But now, I’m in a relationship, trying to balance spending time with him and spending time with friends, family, and myself. I’m trying to keep my commitments to all birthday parties, housewarming extravaganzas, weddings, and every other social outing. I’m trying to keep church commitments, attend family events, spend quality time with the family, and act like my new “friend” will not subtract the time I spend with the closest people in my life. I’m trying to blog regularly, exercise regularly, spend adequate time on my personal and professional development, and enjoy my precious “me” time. I am trying to act like a single person in a relationship and can we say exhausting? I literally feel like I have split personalities!
When I was single, I would always profess how “stupid” it was to lose who you are for the sake of a relationship. While I still believe this way, I now empathize with women in new relationships, for the amount of time, energy, and resources needed to make it work at the beginning take away from the things you used to do in your single life. It’s up to you to manage how much time it subtracts.
Luckily for me, He’s pretty easy-going. He understands how important my family, girl friends, blogging, writing, and all of my other extracurricular activities mean to me, so negotiating time with him and time spent with my people is easy.
2. You now realize why you’re not the best thing since the Internet to hit the planet.
Prior to being in a relationship, I thought I was the best thing after the Internet to ever hit this planet. Sure, I had my insecurities, but my cockiness overcame such things and I walked around with a chip on my shoulder. I did not understand why others behaved so strangely in relationships, and I vowed to myself that I’d never do such a thing. If you remember, I even documented my thoughts in a blog entry called Dear Woman In A Relationship. I vowed that I’d never become that woman.
Well, the tables are turned and I am that woman in a relationship. I spend more time with him than I do with my girlfriends. I’ve skipped blog posts because I was up late the night before talking to him. I’ve even contemplated cancelling dates with the girls to spend more time with him.
But the thing that has changed the most is my humility. I’ve discovered that I am not the best thing since the Internet to hit the earth. When you’re in a relationship, someone holds you accountable for your most inappropriate behavior. Before Him, I could easily hide my not-so-pleasantness under the rug, for no one was close enough to me to call me out on my wretchedness. He sees it loud and clear and can call me out. I knew it before, but now it is clearer to me that I am an imperfect creature. While I blog about my journey towards self-love and perfection, this relationship has helped me realize that I’ll never reach my destination. I will, however, make substantial progress.
3. There is no formula to finding the right one.
“How to find a man” is one of the most popular Google searches on the Internet. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) Relationship experts will tell you things like, work on yourself, make yourself happy, look your best, meet new people, and while these things increase your chances of meeting your future spouse, they do not guarantee that sparks will fly with that special someone. I have a friend who has been a member of multiple dating sites for a couple of years; she’s been on more dates than she can even count. She’s open. She’s cute. She’s happy, successful, fashionable, yet for some reason, she has not found her Prince Charming.
According to the experts, she’s doing everything “right.” But I’d like to challenge these so-called-relationship experts, by asking them what is the right thing? I am a living testament that you can do everything “wrong,” or against what everything anyone has ever told you about finding the one and still be lucky. As I become older, I am learning that life is more about getting lucky (or being blessed, as you Christian folks would say) than it is about you doing things according to what is considered proper.
Which brings me to another point…
4. Being in a relationship is nothing to brag about.
There’s no point bragging about the man I have in my life. I merely got lucky. I didn’t follow some manual and do everything right to reap the benefits of what I sowed. So, why should I brag about it?
My favorite blogger discussed how some women saunter around bragging about the man in their life. He mentioned how ridiculous it was, citing that these women merely got lucky. There was nothing that they did to earn it. Bragging about being in a relationship is like bragging about winning the lottery.
For that reason and for the fact that I really think I got lucky, I keep my mouth sealed when people tell me about their relationship woes. Before Him, I would talk about what I thought I knew and really didn’t know, but now, because I understand that no one really knows relationships or how to navigate through them, I simply smile, nod, and listen.
5. People feel entitled to know your relationship details.
Most relationships slowly evolve. You are introduced to the person; you two hang out sometimes; cultivate a friendship and then, before you know it, you two are inseparable. People begin to ask, “are you two dating?” and you can’t even respond to that question accurately. You’re still trying to figure out if you even like the person. But here comes your homegirl/aunt/cousin who needs to know everything about you and your relationship.
A little while after we became “official,” I took some time out to call my close friends to inform them about my new relationship status. I didn’t want them to find out in a roundabout way. Other relatives and distant friends, however, did not get that special phone call. I never thought it was important for me to share such a thing with them, for I never shared such personal details about my love life with them before. In the same vein, they never took time out of their day to share with me the most important details about their relationship. So, you can imagine my surprise when people approached me at a family gathering to inquire about why I hadn’t informed them about Him, as if they were offended.
6. The decision to go public is huge
The decision to go Facebook official is not an easy one. He’s not on Facebook so by default, he’s decided not to put his relationship status out there. However, I am on Facebook. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went to the edit-your-profile link on Facebook, scrolled to the add-your-relationship link, paused for a second and then exited out of the page. One of the things that has stopped me from adding “in a relationship” to my profile is the fact that Facebook promotes your relationship status as if they will earn money from it. It is the first big item on everyone’s timeline for the next 5 days for all of your 898 friends to see. Even the people who log on once a year will see it. Everyone will make a comment and ask questions. And quite frankly, I don’t want that much attention.
I’ll settle for telling you about Him in a casual conversation. So much easier.
7. Relationships do not solve your personal problems.
Whatever “issue” you had before your guy, will be there after you have become involved with your guy. It’s funny when people tell you that the best thing to do to boost yourself esteem or get over your ex is to find someone new. Sure, that’ll help you a little, but you still have to work on yourself. You have to decide that you’re beautiful no matter how you feel. You have to make a conscious effort to get out of your funk. Your bad hair days will still be there well after he’s come into the picture. Your man cannot force you to love or accept yourself or life. You have to do that.
8. There is no need to prove to others that he is a nice guy.
I remember when one of my friends got boo’d up. She was so happy. At the time, I was navigating the waters of one my typical pseudo-relationships with someone who I couldn’t call my official boyfriend. And here she was talking about was her and Steven and how perfect they were as a couple. She bragged about how much her boyfriend’s mother adored her and how good of a couple they were. It was almost as if she wanted to prove to me that they were perfect for each other.
I told myself then that I wouldn’t become one of those silly women. I’d keep my mouth shut and let my friends witness for themselves how good of a guy he is. Maybe they’ll see what I see, or maybe they won’t. They’ll believe more of what they see than what I say. So, that’s what I do.
Making an enormous amount of efforts to get your family and friends to accept him may backfire. Not only is it a lot of work, it is unnecessary. Time is your most precious resource. Time will reveal everything you need to know about the person you’re dating. Time will also help your loved ones accept your lover. You do not need to prove anything.
Photo Credit: http://www.examiner.com/article/self-check-for-achieving-your-healthy-romantic-relationship