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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transitioning from Being Single to a Monogamous Relationship

Single life is pretty awesome for some of us 20-something folks, and probably a few divorcees. The freedom to move and do as you please is exciting for a while. But as with all things, that life gets old, and many folks start wanting someone to call their own. Once you find that person (or persons for you polyamorous folks), it’s an awesome feeling…. an awesome feeling that lasts for as long as it takes you to realize that your new partner is flawed just like every other human being. Sometimes, the flaws are serious and potential relationship-enders (see: secretly married with a 2 ½ kids). But if you’re lucky (and I use that term loosely), the rough parts of sustaining your new relationship are the changes one must go through in order to properly convert from living single to life with a significant other. The transition can be pretty tough, especially if you’ve been single for 2+ years. Old habits die hard. Many say that they’d like to meet the one, but may not be prepared to make the changes necessary in order to make the situation successful once they encounter it. And so I’d like to make a modest attempt to provide a few tips on how to ease this transition and evolve from the simplicity of single life to a place of thoughtfulness usually needed for a successful relationship .

#1 Loose Ends
First things first. All those other folks you had on a string, but never quite reeled in, are going to have to be handled. You’ll either need to cut them loose, ignore them until they get the hint, or keep them on a very long leash. If it’s the last option, you run the chances of pissing off your partner. Answering their texts every now and again may seem harmless, until one of them texts or calls you at 2:00 am while your partner’s over. Even if your partner doesn’t ask you to explain, they likely are wondering who, besides them or your mother with a family emergency, would be calling you at that hour. And also, don’t think your partner won’t notice your loose ends posting on your Facebook wall frequently, liking every other status, and ending each of their comments with a wink. The long leash is only advised when you’re not sure about your situation. And if that’s the case, re-evaluation of whether the situation’s worth it, and of your actual readiness for a serious monogamous relationship is probably the best option.

#2 Flirtation
Flirts also have it pretty tough regarding this transition. A little harmless flirting may be cool, but you should always gauge your partner, or even just have a direct conversation with them in order to determine what’s inappropriate. You may be used to kissing your opposite sex friends on the cheek, or even playfully slapping them on the ass, but you should make sure your partner is okay with these things before continuing to do them once in a relationship. I stress finding out BEFORE. It is much better to be proactive than reactive. I assure you that that playful slap on your buddy's ass is not worth the 2+ hour argument and/or subsequent discomfort with the buddy involved that may follow if your partner is not into that sort of behavior.

#3 Friends That You Used to Date (Or Do Other Stuff With)
Current friends that you used to be involved with (almost all of us have them) are one of the things that can really be made into a non-issue if you handle it well. Make it a point to tell your partner well in advance about these folks. Furthermore, if you’re going to a gathering, and you know someone’s going to be who you were once involved with, be sure to bring it up ahead of time. Your partner will almost definitely appreciate your honesty, and it also makes you look extremely trustworthy. Few things are worse for a relationship’s trust than your partner finding out about a former dating situation with one of your current friends from someone besides you. Even if you have trouble getting it out before your partner meets your former whatever-they-were, the saying “better late than never” certainly applies here. Although they may be slightly bothered by being told after the fact, you'll still earn some cool points for giving them information that you possibly could have held onto with no consequence. Once you come off as sneaky, it’s hard to get that 100% trust back. And it’s a pain in the ass when you don’t have a high level of trust from your partner. The questions about where you’ve been, and who you’ve been with will noticeably multiply, and no one wants to feel like they have to check in at every turn.

#4 Friends of the Opposite Sex
This may not apply to everyone in a monogamous relationship, but I believe that many people may have issues with their significant other having a large amount of friends of the opposite sex. While your significant other may trust you, they have no way of knowing the intentions of the folks you hang around, especially in this culture where mainstream deems it almost acceptable to steal someone else’s dude/chick. I’ve found that the best possible solution is to introduce your significant other to your opposite sex friends ASAP. Witnessing the manner in which you and your friends interact will often put them at peace, once they see that these folks are not a threat. And sometimes you will run into a person who is simply not okay with you having friends of the opposite sex. At that point, you have to decide whether your relationship, or your opposite sex friendships are more important to you.

Conclusion
Finally, if all this sounds too daunting, it’s possible that you don't view the person you’re with as worthy of making a few personal changes, or that you’re just not ready for a monogamous relationship at this point. And hey, that’s totally fine. Times are changing. A lot of folks are doing polyamory now, or just choosing to remain single for an extended period of time. I think whatever your option, the first step is making peace with it. But if you want a successful monogamous relationship, it’s important that you’re able to transition from thinking for you to thinking for two. And don’t think of it as having to change for someone; rather, think of it as experiencing a personal evolution that just may lead to collective and individual happiness in your future.

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