I am 29 years old and I am just now experiencing my first long term relationship. It is scary and takes a lot of hard work. I have spent a good portion of my life being single. This wasn’t always by choice, but I got used to being alone. The more time I spent alone, the more habits I developed of a single woman. Now, 3 months away from marriage, I am trying to shake those habits forever.
In some ways, I was a serial monogamist. I constantly found myself in relationships, but the catch was that none of them lasted more than 6 months. The majority of them only lasted 3 months. When they ended, I either jumped ship to another man, or I hunkered down in my single-dom and enjoyed being alone for a while. Either way, I was never forced to change my life for anyone. I never had to compromise. I only experienced those super exciting first three months where everything is new and infatuation is running rampant between you. You never fight. You never show your ugly side. You pretend you don’t fart in bed or pee in the shower. You also don’t share your space with one another yet. For all intents and purposes, you are still basically single, but with benefits.
I never got to the life long commitment stuff, or even the big moving in together or sharing a pet or exchanging house keys. None of that. I still had my freedom, and them theirs. I still got to run away to a foreign land and leave them behind and not feel that bad about it. In the process, I developed some pretty ugly habits. Now, these are perfectly fine habits for a single woman to have, but they aren’t fine for a woman about to get married.
I used to have free range of my life. I decided when I ate, when I slept, when I went out with friends, etc. I developed some pretty stringent routines. I danced the night away with friends on the weekends. I never answered to anyone. If I wanted chocolate, I ate it. If I wanted to go salsa dancing, I did. If I needed to get to bed at 10am for an early morning, it was easy. I also had tons of alone time to binge on my favorite Netflix and Hulu shows without judgement.
Believe me when I say, I don’t miss being single. Of course, all of those things are really appealing, but I also cried myself to sleep often. I felt left out when my friends got all coupled-up and I spent nights in alone. I got tired of dressing up and trying to pick up dudes at the clubs. I also just finally found the perfect man for me. He has his flaws, but he’s amazing. He bends over backwards for me. He dotes on me. He sends flowers unexpectedly when he is out of town and misses me. I’m super happy!!
Unfortunately, I haven’t felt like the perfect partner lately. I seem to be dragging around my single woman baggage. I want my way. I don’t want to compromise. I want to go out with our (my) friends when they invite us. I want to dance salsa without him getting jealous. I want to go to bed way earlier than he does. I want alone time to watch my tv shows. I’m cranky. I’m difficult. I don’t know how to be in a long term relationship!
Usually, people have several long term relationships before meeting their spouse. They have practice on how to be a partner, instead of an individual. My fiance had several long term relationships before me. It has made him a better man. Those of us, who only have the one long relationship to learn from, might struggle. I also used to try my darnedest to be the perfect partner in those three month relationships. I never wanted to bring up anything that bothered me. I always wanted to be caring and considerate even at the expense of my own feelings. I thought that the way to make it last was to be their ideal woman. I learned that it doesn’t keep a man around if you aren’t true to yourself. You can’t fake it until you make it.
So, here I am really struggling with wanting to be true to myself, but also wanting to be a good partner. I need to find that balance. I need to remember to be grateful of him for all the compromising he does for me. I need to not always want to get my way. I don’t want to be a primadonna, who has to have her way all the time. I want to compromise too. I just get so fixated on my own ideas and I’m so used to doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It is hard to let that shit go. I worry though that I won’t be able to keep this wonderful man around, if I continue to drag this single-woman baggage along with me.
I need to learn to shed that weight of the past. I can’t always have my way. I can’t have tons of alone time, but it is okay to ask for a night alone. I can’t always eat and sleep when I want, but we can find a healthy medium. I need to be grateful and supportive of my man’s dreams and plans as well. It is not all about me.
Being single has it’s benefits, but ultimately I want to be the best partner I can be and forget about the single life. It is all a learning process though. I can’t beat myself up over it. I just need to do my best to treat him right, but not forget about my needs in the process. He always says we are a team, and I need to believe that too. The most important thing I am learning is to communicate. I am so used to only having to deal with my own thoughts all of the time, that I forget to tell him how I’m feeling. Instead I just act passive aggressive. It is so important that we communicate in long term relationships. It will save a lot of stress and guessing.
The four C’s of a strong relationship, I have discovered are communication, commitment, compromise, and care. I will continue to apply these to our relationship to make it last. I also just need to be less selfish and more aware of what really matters. It is not all about me.