Dater X: The 10 New Relationship Commandments
It’s been three years since I’ve uttered the phrase, “This is my boyfriend, __________.” So every time I’ve said it in the past two weeks, as the word ‘boyfriend’ passed through my lips, it felt both totally foreign and completely natural. Even though it’s a word that conjures up images of high school and “Do you like me? Check yes or no” letters, each time I say it, the word makes me feel just a little bit giddy.
Every time I see him or talk to him on the phone (yes, we do that), I’m continually shocked by how well we mesh and how we think along the same lines even though we’re such different people. The Venn diagram between us is truly shocking. But being in this new relationship has pushed me to face a fear I think I was too scared to look at before: after three years of not having a significant other who required compromising, or even so much as a roommate, have I become too set in my own ways to mesh my life with someone else? Luckily, the answer seems to be: no.
And because I am an over-thinker, I am laying down these 10 relationship commandments to help me find the right balance.
- Thou shalt not take thy boyfriend for granted. Six weeks into this relationship and it already feels so comfortable—as if it’s something it’s always been. Because our “firsts” are coming to an end, it’s easy to expect the “I love yous” and back rubs and awesome dates. But I want to remember to take note of these things and not just let them roll over me without notice. I want to always pay attention to the way The Young One’s touch makes me tingle and to really hear the assorted sweet things he says to me in a given day. Even if we are lying on the couch watching TV, I want to remember how good it feels to have him there. I want to remember how hard it was to find that connection, and how much I felt like something was missing when I was on the green zebra hunt. I want to appreciate the heck out of him, and out of what we have. I don’t ever want to let this relationship be just another day at the office.
- Thou shalt not take getting laid for granted. I’ve had more sex in the past two weeks than I have in the past year. I have a feeling that, sometime soon, it’ll slow down—that because I know I can have it almost any time, that I’ll start with the “not tonights” that have gotten women a bad rep in commercials. So I want to remember how badly my single self would have wanted sex on a regular basis with someone who truly cared about them. I hope staying appreciative will keep it coming frequently far after the honeymoon phase has passed.
- Thou shalt not forget about thy friends. My friends and family members are amazing. They mean the world to me and I will fully admit that in the past few years, while I’ve searched for love and gotten frustrated each and every time I didn’t find it, they’ve been there to help me through it. So I’m a little worried that—given the fact that there are 24 hours in the day and I want to spend many of them with The Young One—I may not be there for them in the same way I was before. So I am hereby pledging to still make time for the people I love—to call them randomly and see how they’re doing, to make dates to do fun things with them, and to show them that I am still the person they can rely on in a crisis.
- Thou shalt remain a good employee. I can’t tell you how many days in the past six weeks, especially the ones where I wake up in a human pretzel position with The Young One, I wanted to call in sick to work and just hang out with him all day. While I think that’s okay to indulge once in a blue moon, I want to go to work and do it well while I’m there. Hey, my boss doesn’t really care if I’m in love—he still needs his TPS reports.
- Thou shalt not partake of too many coupled activities. When I was single, I felt a bit uncomfortable about how many of my friends were paired up. I remember feeling like a third wheel when I’d hang out with a friend and his/her significant other. I remember how annoyed I felt when I walked into a dinner party and realized I was the odd one out. Now that I’m with someone, my instinct is often to plan coupled activities—double dates with those pairs I used to hang out with or trivia nights for three or four duos. On one hand, I want to do these things and experience my coupled friends in a new way. But I also want to make this a once-in-a-while thing. Because I want lots of solo time with The Young One. And because I want to host group activities where single friends won’t have to feel awkward.
- Thou shalt try things his way. Any two human beings approach things—from the way they put toothpaste on their toothbrush to how they like their significant other to act at parties—in hugely different ways. It’s so easy to think that your way is the right. I am actively trying to stop that and broaden my mind in this new relationship. For example, I am the world’s most efficient showerer. I like to get in and out in five minutes flat. So the first time The Young One slid open the shower curtain and hopped in with me, I panicked that my routine was being interrupted. But after a minute or two, I did something crazy—I relaxed. My thoughts went from I’m going to be late to My boyfriend wants fool around in the shower—score! I’m realizing I have to hold less tightly to “my way” to figure out what “our way” is going to be.
- Thou shalt choose they battles wisely. When you’re dealing with another person, there are bound to be clashes. Some are trivial—see above—while some are big. I know in relationships past, I have gotten on significant other’s cases about trivial things. And quickly, I feel (and am probably perceived) as a nag. In this relationship, I’m going to save the critiques and clashes for things that actually matter to me.
- Thou shalt express when things aren’t honky dory. I remember early on in my last long-term relationship, when my new boyfriend shared what I considered an intimate detail in front of friends at dinner. They laughed and he obviously didn’t think it was a big deal, but I was livid. As we went home later that night, I kept waiting for an apology. “Are you okay?” the guy asked. “I’m fine,” I said in that way women reflexively do when they are clearly not. How could he not realize that was way out of line? I thought, getting more angry every minute. I don’t want to do that in this relationship. I want to remember that The Young One doesn’t have the benefit of being inside my brain. I want to remember that we are still getting to know each other and that the only way for him to learn what my boundaries are, what hurts my feelings, and what drives me nuts is for me to speak up and tell him.
- Thou shalt not make out in public too, too much. The problem here is that, oh man, I want to. But I also want to remember that public grope sessions often made me feel uncomfortable when I was single. Not to mention that by not making out in public, we can talk! And get to know each other better! And that’s valuable, too.
- Thou shalt still look hot. I’m gonna confess to you a ridiculous and yet totally understandable fear: I’m scared of gaining weight now that I’m in a relationship. I’ve seen it happen to many a female friend before me and I know where it comes from—when you’re with someone great, spoon feeding each other chocolate cake sounds far more appealing than going to the gym. I’ve shared with you guys that I was overweight for most of my life and only in the past few years got myself to a healthy size. I love the way I look and feel right now. So I hereby pledge to keep exercising and eating well because I know I will be a better girlfriend if I feel good about myself. I want to be conscious, but not obsessive, about this, even though I know The Young One would still like me even I put on a few.
That’s my list. What things do you guys think it’s important to remember in a new relationship?