I have been single for most of my college career. Minus a few minor dating stints — the most prominent one being freshman year — I have generally remained unattached, uncommitted and unbothered. That is, until the beginning of this past semester, when I started seriously dating my boyfriend. All shock and awe put aside, finding out how I fit in this relationship has been an interesting prospect. I have learned to separate myself from the single self I knew so well and settle into a relationship with someone new. It’s been a great experience so far, but it got me thinking about the different ways in which there is a learning curve for new relationships.
With this relationship, a new person was introduced into my life. Someone who would have to meet family members and friends, have to answer questions about who they are, what they do, and — the most daunting question — how we met. With any relationship, it’s important to keep in mind that there is another person you’re letting into your world, and they’re letting you into theirs. This person comes with differing life experiences, thoughts, beliefs and varying relationships of their own. There are going to be things in common, of course — good relationships are built on certain drawing factors that allow for deep connections — but there are also going to be some differences.
One of my roommates, who also recently started a relationship, and I were talking about all the different ways that being in a relationship can be a little odd (in the best way). Neither of us have had the traditional relationships that last for years and years like many of our friends in high school had. That doesn’t put us at a disadvantage, per se, but it means that there are a few things to get used to when it comes to being in a good, sustaining relationship. These things might come as second nature to those who have been in long-term relationships, but I think that there is a lot of fun and amusement in figuring out how you fit into someone else’s life.
Of course, this begs the question of balance. With a new relationship, how can you balance all the other ones in your life? How can you make sure that you call your family, see your friends on a semi-frequent basis, keep in contact with friends from home and make sure that you’re spending time with your significant other? It can be a daunting task to try and balance all of these relationships, and sometimes too much of an emphasis can be put on one side.
We’ve all seen this happen — the typical person who gets a significant other and spends all the time they have with them, instead of with their friends and family. I’m sure we all know someone who is like this, and it’s not a bad thing to want to spend time with a significant other, but it is when it comes at the expense of the other relationships. Creating and finding that balance may take some time, but that balance is beneficial to all relationships involved and the person in the middle doesn’t feel like they have to prioritize specific groups.
Finding out where exactly you fit into another person’s life can be a challenging task. This doesn’t only apply to romantic relationships. It applies to every form of relationship — romantic, platonic and familial. This means more than just passing someone on the street and telling them that you might be able to hang out with them sometime soon. This goes beyond that — ensuring that this person can rely on you, trust you and see the growth of the relationship with you. You figure out how vulnerable you can be with someone else, and how soon into the relationship you can let them see certain sides of you. I believe that there is a learning curve when it comes to all types of relationships. You have to figure out which pieces fit where, when you can make time for them in your busy schedule and be sure that you can be a resource and a system of support for the other person.