Things I’m Learning About Being In A Relationship For The First Time

If you’re looking for evidence of miracles on Earth, look no further, for the fact that I am even able to write an article with this title should suffice. Though I’m still not quite sure how, the guy who once drunkenly registered the username MuffinMan219 on OkCupid has successfully managed to trick a real live human being into being his boyfriend. (Mwhahaha, the poor bastard!)

I won’t lie; it’s a bit strange being part of a pair now, having been uninterruptedly single for the last 24 years. I had Single down to a science — everything from memorizing the cook time of 12 different kinds of Lean Cuisine, to surviving dreaded ‘Third Wheel Scenarios’ by being the Perpetually-Drunk Fun Friend that couples enjoy having around for laughs. But now here I am, trying out the couple thing, which I can only compare to learning a foreign language as an adult: when you’re young, the knowledge seems to seep in by osmosis, but it becomes a conscious learning effort once you’re older and set in your ways. A few months in, here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

You have to say what’s on your mind: My boyfriend does this thing where he’ll turn to me in moments of prolonged silence and say, “Penny for your thoughts?” (Which drives me insane because even if he gave me a penny, which he never does, it’s not like a penny is worth anything anymore! That expression should change; sharing your thoughts should at least be worth a gumball.) I’ve explained to him repeatedly that it’s basically just the Game of Thrones intro music playing on an endless loop up there, but he never believes me, so I’m forced to come up with something else. Sometimes I’ll respond with complete and horrifying honesty: “Um, I’m thinking that if I don’t do laundry tonight, I’m going to have to wear my speedo from high school swim team under my jeans tomorrow.” Other times, I’ll mix it up with a boldfaced lie: “Funny you ask, I’ve actually been thinking seriously about converting to Mormonism and was hoping you’d join me. No more sex till marriage!” Needless to say, he’s learned to stop asking so often.
But you can’t say everything that’s on your mind: When you wake up freezing in the middle of the night because they’ve stolen the blankets, you can’t wake them by growling viciously in their ear that if they do it again, you’ll cut off their head, put it on a stake and set it on fire, using the heat from the flames to keep warm for the rest of the night. Yeah, that doesn’t always go over well, don’t do that.

There are hiccups in the romance: Facebook albums of friends in relationships would have you believe that once you’re a couple, nothing ever goes wrong again! “Here we are at the beach, what perfect weather!” “Got a free upgrade to the Honeymoon Suite on our Cabo vacay, check out this view!” — it’s as if this second person acts as a human shield against life’s woes. Ah, but how far from the truth! Sometimes the restaurant you pick for Valentine’s Day is actually two miles from where you thought it was and you miss your reservation, sometimes a scenic hike ends with you sliding down a hill in the mud, and sometimes you have to thoroughly check yourself for ticks after accidentally picking a bad location for your romantic picnic. Life will never stop throwing curve balls, no matter who’s in it.

There is, however, remarkable romance in unremarkable events: There’s something magical about lying in bed next to your significant other at 1am, hungry and not wanting to admit it, when he turns to you and says, “I could totally go for some McNuggets right now.” It’s so stupid, but you can’t help but think, “Soul mate?” as you both throw on your jeans and rush downstairs to the car to satisfy this shared urge. What would have once been a shameful late-night excursion has become a midnight adventure for two, holding hands as you head for the drive-thru, sneaking a kiss before leaning in to whisper, “Let’s ask for extra barbeque sauce.” I believe that moments like this are what make people want to be in relationships in the first place.

Life doesn’t change that much: Initially, I was worried that sacrificing my singledom would mean sacrificing a lot of my favorite alone-time activities, which I’ve come to love over the years. As it happens though, I’m not unique in my appreciation for watching Netflix in my underwear on the floor and eating pizza straight out of the box, so there’s still a lot of that going on in my life, thank god! You do have to compromise on what shows to watch (apparently, re-runs of Xena Warrior Princess aren’t for everyone) but the plus-side is having someone there to get up and grab more beer from the fridge. Trade-offs!

You do have to wash towels more often though: Much of this comes from an extra person using your shower, but the majority of it is being forced to shower more often, lest ye be judged by your significant other (see: “But I showered on Monday!” “Babe, you’re gross.”)

But cut me some slack, I’m still learning here… Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – merra m.

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