The first year or so of a relationship is absolute bliss. Unfortunately, as it continues, the thrill fizzles out and reality sets in. Transitioning into long-term relationship territory came with some changes that I was a little unprepared for. It’s not all struggles, of course—there are some really great perks that come with the change—but I wish I’d had a little more insight to help me through it. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Talking about the hard stuff is, well, hard. Initiating a difficult conversation is never fun. At some point, I knew I had to get over my fear and bring up the stuff we needed to work on because I really did want to be with this person. I knew holding in my feelings would do no good so I faced it head on. When I brought it up, I admitted I was freaking out and turns out, he felt the same! It felt wonderful to know we were on the same page and it really made opening up easier.
- You can be a little more you every day. In the beginning, I was making sure I was dressed to perfection for every date, I never said no to a restaurant (even one I didn’t particularly care for) and I was the ultimate “yes” girl. After awhile, though, I wasn’t as meticulous. I realized I could wear my pajamas and I didn’t always have to put on makeup and he’d still like me. If I didn’t want sushi, I could say I didn’t want sushi and we weren’t going to break up. What a relief.
- You can’t keep secrets. Once I started growing closer to my boyfriend, we developed a bit of an intuition about each other. He could usually tell just by looking at me if I was fibbing about something. The truth had to come out and I learned that no matter how much I wanted to keep those little secrets in, I couldn’t. Even something like buying a shirt at Target while grocery shopping had to be mentioned if we were on a budget. It wasn’t just me anymore and I had to be open.
- Mistakes will be made more but matter less. The more time you spend with someone, the more you see the tiny habits that may have been hidden in the beginning. The funny thing is, I noticed that if he forgot to call right on time or picked up the wrong takeout for dinner, I didn’t stress about it as much. I realized he’s human and that kind of thing is going to happen the more I got to know him. I was able to be more relaxed and not sweat the small stuff, which felt great.
- Complaining about things is totally normal. Usually, my girlfriends or my dog were my go-to people when I needed to rant about the car that cut me off in traffic or something bad that happened at work. I was almost anxious opening up to my boyfriend about those things, thinking he would just see me as a downer. You know what? People have bad days! The first time he complained to me about a big project his job had thrown at him made me feel so relieved! I was his person, and in turn, that really made me want to make him mine.
- You have to take initiative. I could no longer procrastinate the things I said I’d do. If I said I was going to clean the house, I did. I realize he didn’t always expect it but I wanted to be a woman of my word. I didn’t want to come off as flaky—I wanted to be someone that followed through her ideas with action. I also sort of had this expectation of him and it wasn’t until I made a small promise and knew I had to keep it that it clicked. If I want him to keep good on what he tells me, I had to step up and do the same.
- It’s a little harder to take space. When we were just starting out and not seeing or talking every single day, if I needed a break for any reason, I basically already had it. Now that we’re spending most of our downtime with each other, especially since we’ve moved in together, I had to get used to the fact that he was always there, in my direct presence. I have to specifically mention it if I need some time to myself. It’s the polite thing to do so I don’t mind, but even saying “I just need an hour in the tub to cry” opens me up for a little more vulnerability. I have to trust this guy, so I do, and he always respects my needs.
- Embarrassing moments will happen, so why not laugh about them? It’s just reality—you’re going to fart. It happened to me and it was actually really hilarious and we both laughed about it for a stupidly long time. It completely broke the ice and we started teasing each other lovingly about our embarrassing habits. I sometimes “sleep eat” and wake up with string cheese wrappers in the bed. I’ve walked into doors and fell on my butt and he saw all that. The only way to survive those blunders was to joke about them. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously!
- The sex becomes more adventurous. The first time you sleep with someone is probably one of the most nerve-wracking things on the planet. I didn’t want to pull any weird faces or make any creepy noises and I’m downright certain that I was more focused on how my own body looked than his. After some time, that was out the window. I let go and was able to really enjoy the physical side of our relationship. I could even make suggestions of things I would only to mention to someone I trusted completely and it opened up a whole new world for us.