One of the most highly researched things in the field of psychology is why and…
You finally found someone you can see a future with but are now struggling with how to get used to being in a relationship. Here’s what you need to know.
I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. Just because you found someone you want a relationship with and they, you, doesn’t mean everything just falls into place. Being in a relationship can, at times, get very tricky even when you meet the right person.
Starting a relationship is an adjustment for anyone, especially someone who has been single for a long time.
You’re used to your time alone. You aren’t accustomed to checking in or worrying about someone else. And just because those things may not come naturally to you right off the bat doesn’t mean there is something wrong.
It takes time and patience to get used to being in a relationship. Even if you feel happy and like you’re thriving, making regular plans with someone and having the energy to be around someone constantly may be out of your normal routine.
But, with that, getting used to being in a relationship shouldn’t be stressful. It can feel that way though, if you jump into it without preparing for those changes and easing into them.
But, how do you do that?
How to get used to not being single
Some people may say that your life shouldn’t change much from being single to being in a relationship. In some ways, that is true but in others, it isn’t.
If you plan on being a good partner, some things have to change.
You are no longer single. Even though you probably aren’t living with your new partner, getting used to seeing them regularly, keeping in contact throughout the day, and considering them in your plans shows your respect for their place in your life.
Being single vs. being in a relationship – The differences you’ll instantly experience
Right now, you are probably very used to your singlehood. Just as adjusting to single life after a long relationship is hard, adjusting to having someone around when you normally don’t isn’t easy just because you like them.
You’re used to getting all the covers in bed. You’re used to choosing what to watch, what to eat, where to go, etc. You don’t have to compromise with anyone on plans. Everything is your way because you’re only deciding for yourself.
Whether you enjoyed being single or not, you are used to it. It is part of your routine and breaking comfortably from that isn’t going to be easy and breezy.
Being in a solid relationship requires commitment, energy, compromise, and mutual respect, as well as trust.
It can be hard to go from relying only on yourself to depending on someone else’s word for your schedule and enjoyment. Will they disappoint you? Will they let you down? Will you be annoyed at them?
Maybe. Those things happen in relationships. Preparing for that can be hard coming off of constant alone time in your grossest PJs and zit cream.
How to prepare yourself for a real relationship
You have to remind yourself that making those changes is worth it. Maybe you don’t get to spread out fully in bed or pick your number choice restaurant for dinner but you get a companion. You get company that you enjoy. And you want to make them happy as they do, you.
Letting go of the pleasantries of singlehood can seem like a lot of adjustment at once but think about what you’re trading it for. If you want this relationship, giving up a few conveniences is worth a potential lifetime of happiness.
Readjusting to a new normal takes time. You can’t expect to jump into a relationship and just be prepared for the changes no matter how much you want to.
But, if you want to make a relationship work and be the best partner you can be, learning how to get used to being in a relationship is the first step.
How to get used to being in a relationship
I first want to say congratulations on finding someone you can see a future with. That is amazing and I’m very happy for you.
But, along with celebrating your newfound romance, you are mourning the loss of your single life. Even if you’ve been wanting to be in a relationship, there are things you’re used to that you’ll have to let go of and new things you’ll need to acclimate to.
Here are some things, both major and minor, that can feel like a drastic change from your single life once you’re in a relationship. But don’t worry, you can handle them and it will be worth it.
#1 Amping up your wardrobe. This may not be a concern for everyone. But when you’re in a fresh relationship, you still want to impress your partner with how cute you look. You may want to have a comfy night at home watching movies but you don’t want to look like a slob.
This doesn’t mean you need to be dolled up to cuddle on the couch. You can amp up what you’d do if you were alone with some subtle changes that make you feel more confident.
Toss in some dry shampoo, maybe throw on some tinted lip balm and perfume, and instead of your ratty PJ’s, wear a matching set or a color that flatters you.
These small changes shouldn’t be overwhelming but will help you feel like you’re putting in the effort to look your best. This is also only temporary for most couples. Once you’re comfortable in your new relationship and adjusted to having them around, it can be back into sweats and zit cream.
#2 Missing your shows. This again is such a minor inconvenience but with how addicted so many of us are to our fandoms, it can feel like a big loss. If you have plans with your partner to watch a movie or go out on the night your favorite show airs, you’ll have to wait to watch it and avoid spoilers.
Sure, that’s annoying when you’re used to watching whatever you want whenever you want. But after spending quality time with your partner you won’t even think about what you’re missing.
And who knows, you may even be able to get them interested in your favorite stuff so you can watch together.
#3 Being clean. Yes, we are all basically clean most of the time, but you’re lying if you tell me you vacuum every week, regularly clean your toilet, and have never gone more than a day without a shower.
When you’re single, letting dust build up, having crumbs in your bed, or having greasy hair is just part of your week. But in a relationship, you want to be on your best behavior, especially at the start.
It seems like an annoying change, but let me share some personal insight. I hate cleaning. I like organizing but hate vacuuming and dusting. When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I would dread pulling out the vacuum and cleaning every time he came over.
But my motivation to do that so he wouldn’t think I was gross actually became a norm for me. It makes me feel better about my living space and healthier too. Now even when I couldn’t see him for a lot of the pandemic, I continued maintaining that.
See? Some changes are good for the relationship and you.
#4 Having real meals. Living alone or just eating alone means you order take out or eat waffles and ice cream for dinner. There’s no shame in that. But when your new boo is over, you probably want to make a full on meal with protein and vegetables.
Instead of just eating whatever you want whenever you want, making that change can feel like you’re depriving yourself of treats. Instead, having a real and balanced meal with your partner brings you together, especially if you cook together.
It is also of course, healthier for your body. And no one says you can’t pig out on waffles and ice cream for dessert.
#5 Privacy. Losing your privacy when getting used to being in a relationship can be hard for lots of people, especially those who are private and have a past of controlling partners.
Inviting your new partner into your space lets them see your medicine cabinet, your phone, your DVR. Some of these things are more intrusive than others. But the best way to manage this change is to talk to your partner about boundaries.
What are you okay with and what makes you uncomfortable? Maybe down the road, you’ll be okay with them picking up your phone if someone calls. But for now, maybe that seems too intense for you. Share how you feel about peeling back the layers of privacy and boundaries before you feel overwhelmed.
#6 Gas. Gas, it happens. We’re all human and we have digestive tracts and things happen. Everything from burps to farts and more can be embarrassing, especially at the start of a new relationship.
You’d be surprised how many people have asked me when it’s okay to fart in front of your significant other. My answer would honestly be just let it loose. Everyone fart and poops. I know it’s awkward and weird to be that free with someone so soon. But holding it in isn’t good for you.
And, honestly, I have never dated someone where this stuff wasn’t just hilarious. If someone has an issue with your body’s natural functions, maybe you should go back to being single because they need to get their priorities straight.
#7 Do boring stuff together. There are a lot of perks to being in a relationship. When you’re single and have to do chores or run errands, it is something you dread. But, once you’re in a relationship, you can actually make those dull things fun.
Going grocery shopping alone is sobering. But going together makes it like a little date. Running errands and cleaning the house with your partner reminds you that things are better with them.
#8 You’re sore. This depends only on your personal fitness and intimacy but getting back in the saddle when you’ve been alone for a while can trigger some sore muscles. You’re not used to being in certain positions and now you are.
Getting used to these activities again is an adjustment but I’m sure you would agree a worthwhile one. Plus, now you have a partner to give you massages.
#9 You need to be honest and vulnerable. This is one of the harder parts about getting used to being in a relationship. When you’re single, you’re just you. But in a relationship, when you have a bad day, feel off, or are really struggling, you have someone to open up to. This can be amazing. You have someone to lean on.
But, for someone not used to being vulnerable, it can be scary to start sharing. It can also be hard being honest with someone when it could cause friction.
These things take practice and patience, but letting go of those fears is what makes a relationship really healthy and balanced. Take baby steps until you’re fully comfortable and share with your partner that it may take time for you to be fully open with them.
#10 Things are progressing. Things are getting more serious. Maybe you’re meeting their friends or family, or they want to meet yours. This is a big step and hitting those milestones can feel really intense. Introducing someone you’re dating into your inner circle comes with a lot of fears.
The best way to handle this change is to tell your partner how you feel. Let them know it feels fast for you or that you’re nervous about a certain step. They should understand and work with you so you’re both comfortable.
#11 Pulling worries from the past. When you haven’t dated in a while and are now in a relationship, you may find yourself pulling issues from your last relationship into this one. You may even expect your partner to exhibit some of your ex’s behaviors because it is what you last experienced.
This rationally isn’t right or fair, but it makes sense. You’ll compare your relationship to your last one that you’re most familiar with. Again, talk to your partner about your past and that trust may take more time for you, or you may be jealous because you were cheated on.
Let them know you’re working on seeing this relationship separately from your past, but you’ll need time to get used to it. They should understand where you’re coming from because they likely have a past too. These things naturally affect us even if it doesn’t make sense. But working through them together is the best way to overcome them.
#12 Alone time. Lacking your alone time can be exhausting. Whether you’re an introvert or just used to having time to yourself, sharing all your free time with your partner can be suffocating. You want to be around them, but also need time to rest and reset.
Again, talk to them. Let them know that you were single for a long time and got used to having all that time to yourself. And as much as you love being with them, this transition is a lot for you to handle. Set boundaries so you both maintain some independence and time to yourselves.
#13 Time with friends and hobbies. You never want to be the friend that ditches their friends because they got into a relationship. But, the beginning of a relationship is full of strong feelings and the desire to see each other often.
If you find yourself missing nights with friends or your time for hobbies, make a weekly plan for both of you to see your friends separately. Later on, you can merge your groups or invite your partner so that you aren’t balancing different worlds but incorporating them. This will help you digest the newness of the relationship while enjoying the comfort of what you’re used to.
#14 Doing things you’re not excited about. All relationships require compromise. Going from being single and just doing what you want, to going to a work event with your partner can be annoying. You’re used to your freedom to say no, but you don’t want to let them down.
Reverse the situation. Your partner would do the same for you. Sure, you may have to endure some dull client meetings or weird family get-togethers. But your partner does the same for you because it makes you happy. A couple of boring events are worth dealing with to have your partner smile, right?
#15 Being an us. Going from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ or an ‘I’ to an ‘us’ is a big transition. When you’re invited somewhere, it is as a couple. When you’re making plans, it’s as a duo. Having to discuss things together before making a decision can feel like you lost your voice or power.
Instead of viewing it as a loss, think of it as a gain. You now have someone to share moments and memories with. You still have your independence and separate life. But you can come together and share support, passions, and respect with your partner.
Now learning how to get used to being in a relationship doesn’t sound so bad, does it?