Long-term relationships can be daunting, especially for someone who has only ever dated casually or beginning to date for the first time. Taking two lives that have all their own quirks, habits and routines and trying to mush them together never works out perfectly. Leaving your single life behind requires a few other things to be left behind or changed as well. While this can feel wrong, scary or uncomfortable, if you and your partner are willing to work together and respect each other, it can create something even better. The following bits of advice are things I’ve learned as I made my own messy way into a serious relationship. Hopefully, you’ll find something useful for your own life.
Balance and compromise are the names of the game here. You have a circle of friends, you have hobbies that you love, but now, all of the sudden, there is less time for those things. A serious relationship takes commitment, and that has to come from somewhere. Where before you might spend your night playing six hours of video games, watching your favorite Netflix show or going out with your friends, maybe now you have to pick and choose the days you can do those things.
Say one day is date night, the next you and your partner watch movies together, and suddenly you get a text from your friends asking where you are. This transition is never easy, and friends may be less than understanding. But if your partner respects you, they should understand that you still need the time and opportunity to be your own person outside the relationship, and you should treat them the same way. A healthy relationship is a balance of spending time together and being apart, and you have to learn to compromise in a way that makes both of you happy.
So, spending time together while still maintaining your personal life, we’ve covered that. What about actually spending time with your partner? If you are together for a long time or living together, it can’t always be restaurants and going to the movies. Sometimes you’ll just have to be together.
Find things you both like to do or find enjoyment in, such as outdoor adventures, puzzles, or playing around with Snapchat filters. At the same time though, indulge your partner, try something they like that maybe you aren’t crazy about, and ask them to do the same for you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll actually enjoy yourself, even if the activity itself isn’t your thing. The secret here is that hanging out is really about having fun as a couple. Keep in mind, though, you don’t always need to be busy either. Sometimes the best part of a relationship is the quiet, the feeling of being with someone and understanding them enough that you don’t need to say anything.
Don’t be afraid of “losing yourself” in a relationship. If it’s a healthy one, you never truly lose anything, you evolve. You change along with your partner and grow into a new person. It’s still you but so much more at the same time. It won’t always be easy, pretty or fun, but finding balance and real respect with another person can be one of the best things about life.
Logan Ryan is a senior English major studying creative and professional writing. He began his career at MSU as an engineer and still laughs about it sometimes. He enjoys spending time with his fiancée, playing video games, and cold weather. He can usually be found at his desk doing anything but writing, on his bike, or on a hike. You can follow him @roganlyan on Twitter.