If you have ever been single for a significant length of time (years, decades), more than likely you’ve set up some solitary patterns for the way you live your life. Yes, you may have friends who you incorporate into these patterns (activities, travel destinations, etc), but for the most part, you have been working out how to live your life alone.
If you are like me, alone is a comfortable, happy state of being. Obligation makes me twitch. Being perpetually single meant, with few exceptions, never having to take someone else into consideration while living my life. If I wanted to travel somewhere, I’d get in a car and go there. If I wanted to stay up all night and watch a Psych marathon, I would (well, actually, I’d fall asleep at 9:30, but you know what I mean). If I wanted to go to sleep at 6:30 because my day was a disaster, and I just wanted to hide under the covers until it went away, I did that. Look back at the last two years of this blog in particular, and you’ll see that whatever occurred to me at the moment happened: San Diego, Central Coast, movies or food truck spotting, all had my attention (and my presence) with very little notice.
Imagine the shock to my system when I found myself not just dating someone, but in a relationship with someone. Sure, the first few weeks were a heady experience of discovery. They were also weeks that seemed to exclude nearly everything else (seriously, the only things I accomplished in those weeks were things that absolutely had to be done and had reached the final deadline). I struggled to integrate the newly developing relationship into the life that already existed.
That’s the trick, I think. When you begin a relationship with someone in college, it’s easier to build a life together—you are already in a state of constant change. When you are older and begin a relationship, you are each joining each other’s lives in progress. You already have relationships that are important to you. You have patterns you like about your life and don’t necessarily look forward to changing them. It’s perplexing when someone else has opinions about your activities. And you do suddenly have to think about how your decisions, your desires, your impulses impact another person.
I now have to take someone else into consideration, and I’m not good at it. Or rather, it still isn’t my first impulse. If I see something about an event somewhere, I’m half-way out the door before it occurs to me that I should check to see if he wants to go. It’s not that I wouldn’t want him with me, it just doesn’t occur to me to bring anyone else along (certainly not during the week when most of my friends have had jobs or other commitments).
I’m really good at alone. I have a lot of experience with it. I find myself jealously guarding my time and my space. I take a deep breath each time I have to share something of myself (or my surroundings) because it isn’t my natural order of things (and remember– I’m an only child, too). It’s not that I don’t enjoy this man’s presence in my life. I’d like to have to integrate him into my life for a very long time. I just struggle with how to do it.
Has this happened to you, too? After a period of extended singledom, have you struggled to incorporate a new relationship into your existing friendships, time commitments, work schedules and/or home-life? What steps did you take to make the mental transition into coupledom work? Or is this a continuing struggle for you? Inquiring minds want to know.