For literal decades, I was the perpetually single friend in my squad. Even my relatives didn’t bother asking if I’d have a plus-one to weddings because I was never in a relationship. I went on dates and had some short romantic flings, but I loved my life and didn’t want to be with someone long-term unless they were exactly right for me. I’ve been with that exactly right guy for over two years, and there have been some aspects to relationships that I didn’t expect.
- There’s far less passion than I expected. I knew that every moment wouldn’t be filled with crashing weddings with declarations of love or standing outside of windows with speakers blasting our song like the movies promised. Still, I didn’t expect there to be this much calm. We still have dates and trips, but I love the peaceful boring parts in between just as much, and I can feel my past single self rolling her eyes at how corny I’ve become.
- I can still prioritize myself. As someone who spent her early life neurotically putting everyone’s needs over her own, I was wary about being in a relationship. But if I’ve learned anything these past two years, it’s been that. If I want this to work, I have to prioritize myself. This is equal parts me and him, and “we” will never work if “I” am not thinking of my needs. And it’s a good thing he loves me so much because my needs are many.
- Fighting can take a lot of forms. Sometime last year we spent the entire afternoon furiously stomping around the apartment trying to out-silent treatment each other over who even remembers what. I assumed one of us would cave and begin the yelling match, but he sat with me and asked why I was mad. I had a rant prepared, and yet I broke down in tears and we both vomited our emotions all over the apartment and felt much better afterward. I didn’t sign up for this vulnerable love garbage.
- I have to tell him his flaws. Love is not as blind, as they say. He does stuff that drives me insane and for the sake of our relationship, I can’t keep it bottled up. The annoying friend I’d normally take a break from is now the adopted father of my dog. I have to look him in the face and tell him all the ways he is annoying so we can talk about it. Ignoring things is just so much easier, ugh.
- Family parties are still annoying. My least favorite parts about seeing my relatives were the endless questions of, “are you seeing anyone?” and “when are you finally going to settle down?” I thought finally snagging a guy would end that, but now there are even worse questions. “Is he gonna propose? When are you gonna have kids?” Only now it’s from his relatives too! Love is grand.
- I get why everyone hates the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be so easy. I could roll up to my parents’ house in my pajamas, put up my feet, and eat delicious food while my mom complains about my brother spending the day with his wife’s family again. November 1st has since become is the day my boyfriend and I pull out the corkboard with strings and thumbtacks and photos of our families and frantically try to Frankenstein some holiday plans that don’t result in disappointed mother stares.
- So. Much. COMPROMISE. All relationships require compromise, even platonic or familial, but holy crap there is just so much now. And the most surprising part is how easy it’s become. Maybe it’s because finding a balance between his needs and mine is so important to me. Or maybe it’s because I’ll do whatever it takes finally get his beloved brown-metal, sticker-coated filing cabinet from middle school out of the guest room. It’s so ugly, you guys.
- Sexy has a new definition. My tiny dresses have begun to gather dus, because this weirdo legitimately thinks I’m sexy all the time. I step out of the bathroom with zit cream dotting my face wearing my sweatpants because I’m bloated from my period, and lo and behold, he will smile and wink and say, “Sexy, babe.” And he’ll mean it. And I feel it. He might be a wizard because that is legit magic.
- My future is different. When you’re with the right person, you help each other grow into the best versions of yourself. I’ve spent enough time looking inward to figure out what I want from him to also see what I want from myself. The elderly bohemian cat lady I envisioned myself as might now have a partner by her side and maybe a weird big-headed grandkid or two.