Most of us are taught to ride a bike for the first time, read and write for the first time and learn to drive for the first time, but how many of us are given lessons on being in a new relationship for the first time? In this article we share some helpful pointers to make the transition from singletown to coupleville a little less daunting.
OWN (AND UNPACK) YOUR BAGGAGE
You know how most people go into a new relationship with baggage from their past? This could look like a suitcase full of baggage, sometimes neatly packed away for nobody to see, sometimes with the contents spilling out of the sides and into the new relationship.
Well when I first met my now-husband Brad, I didn’t have a suitcase full of baggage…nope, not me…I had a shipping container full of it!!! One minute I was laughing and playing it cool, the next I’m like “ok boys, reverse the container in, he’s ready to see what I’m really hauling around with me”…
The problem was, in these early days I wasn’t really owning what I had brought with me into the relationship. I was carrying residual insecurity, jealousy and possessiveness that bubbled up from my fear of abandonment and fear of being cheated on again. I was often projecting this onto Brad, looking for ways he was ‘just like every other guy’, reading into things that weren’t there and creating drama out of the smallest of things. Thankfully he was patient and mature enough to point out what he noticed was going on, and support me as I started my journey of not only owning, but also unpacking my baggage.
HAVE THE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
The start of new relationships can be the most exciting and the most confusing time…the thrill of meeting someone new, finding out all the things that make them who they are, wanting to spend as much time with them as you can…
Then there’s the confusing and raw parts…like when to have sex for the first time with each other, when to bring up your relationship status, when to introduce them to your friends and family and whether they are interested in the big life commitments like kids and marriage.
The best way to deal with these difficult conversations? Just do it! Even if it feels awkward at first, getting things out in the open early on will mean you can both be on the same page and know where each other stands, and be able to relax and have fun together without second guessing the relationship.
Daring Greatly: The courage to be vulnerable, to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, to have the hard conversations. – Brene Brown
LEARN TO TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD
I used to look back on the way I conducted myself in past relationships, and even at the beginning of my relationship with Brad and think of all the things I would do differently, better…but now, knowing that I needed to go through those things to get to where I am now, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Life isn’t just about the smooth bits, the perfect moments, the “camera-worthy” occasions…life is about the bits in between the celebrations, the messy bits, the silly bits, the sad, mad, glad and bad bits. The times where the little things create niggles (then realizing later they were just little things). The times where seemingly insignificant moments turned out to be the turning point in your relationship. It’s all shaping us to be who we are, to learn to adapt to one another and co-exist.
Just like the saying goes “we all want pleasure without the pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain”. We have the good times to allow us to pull through the bad, and the bad times to remind us of everything (and everyone) we have in our life that are good.
For kids the world has an endless supply of fun, either self-created through imagination or with other kids, pets or toys. As adults we often slip into ‘terminal seriousness’, worrying about bills, work and other responsibilities. Now I’m not saying to abandon all responsibilities here, what I am saying is to learn to take yourself lightly. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and not be so hard on yourself. And laugh at your partner’s stuff-ups, after all – they are human just like you!
The more fun and humour you can inject into your relationship, the closer you will become. According to Dr John Gottman, founder of The Gottman Institute who have conducted over 40 years of research into relationships, shared humour with your partner is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your relationship.
We trust that you have enjoyed these simple and effective tips to navigate the ups and downs of your new relationship, please comment below if you have any other tips you’d like to share or any questions around what we have covered.