For whatever reason – career, lifestyle choices or past breakup – you are living a single lifestyle. You don’t have to make room for someone else. Your decisions are your own. No one else to consider. Your needs for more “Me Time” are irrelevant. How you spend your money doesn’t involve the consideration of others as much. What you eat or where you eat doesn’t matter. How you spend your leisure time does not necessarily involve the decision-making of someone else.
You may fully enjoy this single lifestyle, or it came out of your life choices or circumstances. You have become used to it being this way. Now you are involved with someone else who has their own style of living. Suddenly, your decision-making changes. Now you must consider the needs of another person. How do you fit this person into your life? How do you share decision-making? And how do you not lose your Self?
For the purpose of this particular blog, we will focus on adding another person in your life romantically. Most of us have had a roommate at one time or another. Or we are a divorced (or unwed) single parent. Or it may be our elderly parents. These situations are more about relationships that are not as intimate, or not to the degree of a romantic relationship. The love for a child is different than a romantic love. The love for our parents is also not the same as a romantic partner. A roommate usually does not involve our heart. Therefore, adding a romantic partner to our life is more involved in some ways. And certainly more vulnerable to someone who has been living a single lifestyle. Our heart does what it does. What we do about our heart is a different matter.
How Decision-Making Differs in a Romantic Relationship (vs. other relationships)
This most vulnerable of relationships significantly affects how we make decisions. How much do we confer with our mate? How much of our Self do we give to the other person? How do we know when we are giving up too much of our Self? What if our needs for alone time don’t match? What if one is more social than the other? This is very different from the casual relationships we had in that single lifestyle.
All of these questions involve our decision-making. There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it. It is a balancing act between what we need and the needs of the other person. These decisions will affect and possibly alter how we feel towards one another. This is where our vulnerability comes into play. Remember I am saying the heart does what it is going to do. What we do about our heart is where we have more control and choices. This is why we feel more vulnerable in a romantic relationship – we desperately want the other person to share the love we have in our heart. We make plans in our life with that person. Sometimes life-long plans.
Let’s take a look at various ways of decision-making with balance in a romantic relationship.
Factors to Consider in a Romantic Relationship:
- In my Circle Exercise, each person demonstrates their needs for Me Time, Family Time and Couple Time. I will more completely discuss The Circle Exercise in the next Relationship101 article. Most often, our circles do not fully match with the other person. This is normal. The couple needs to figure out how to meet their own needs while helping the other person to meet theirs. It’s called compromise. You make decisions looking for a win-win. Sometimes one person’s needs are more fully met in one circumstance, but then it is important to give to the other person next time to balance it out.
- What are the activities that you both naturally share? Are you willing to share in the preference of the other person sometimes, even when it is an activity you don’t do? If not, then the activity might come under the Me Time of the other person, and you may have one of your own as well.
- Make sure you are matched in terms of how you live your life on a daily basis. How do you manage your bills, or money in general? What are your values? Do they match? How we live our life on a daily basis is what we most experience with another person.
Methods to Achieve Balance in a Romantic Relationship
- Ask for what you want. Most often if the other person has to guess they will be wrong. Communication is a primary need in a nourishing relationship. Relationship counseling can teach the necessary skills to navigate through healthy communication and difficult ones.
- Have discussions about your lifestyle and how you live your life in various areas, such as leisure time, money, vacations, downtime, work, etc. Discuss long term goals that each of you hold. Are you a planner? Or is it wide open for you? Or maybe you just haven’t thought about it yet.
- These days we have lots of options. We can live apart at times and come together at other times and still make it work. It takes planning but is still very possible for some people.
Skills to Learn for a Successful Romantic Relationship
- Make sure you are successful at talking things out with resolution. If not, it is worthwhile to seek professional assistance in this challenge. This is not taught in school and yet it is one of the most important pieces of a nourishing relationship. I will discuss healthy communication in an upcoming blog.
- Learn how to feel connected with each other and what leads to this. This is even more important when you are separated by distance at times. Connection is one of the most important things in relationships. Connection cushions life’s challenges and can make or break relationships. Figure out when you feel connected to the other person and do more of that. For men it is usually sex. But for women they often need to feel connected prior to sexual intimacy. So it is important once again to find what works for each of you in a win-win manner. It is not about control in the relationship. It is about different wiring. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a wonderful book that teaches your love language but also the other person’s. Sue Johnson, PhD also teaches connection in her books Love Sense or Hold Me Tight . Both books and authors are highly recommended resources.
If you are an independent person, you need to be with another independent person, but one who also wants to be intimately connected to another person. They need to have their own life activities, goals and desires. They shouldn’t be dependent upon yours.
- Have you ever been with an independent person who also wanted emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship?
- If so, what was this like for you? What was most challenging about this?
- What is your biggest fear about allowing someone else into your single lifestyle? If it is about losing your Self, think about how this might actually happen. Is it your fear or is it more about not knowing how it could happen and that you may not be aware of it occurring.