May 2, 2018
The Relationship Transition
Audio version- http://chirb.it/vtwsxH
For some going from being single to a committed relationship, marriage or otherwise, is often not an easy task. This transition sometimes has many obstacles that are a result of just innocent dating habits. Unfortunately, when this transition is not handled properly, it has the potential to ruin an otherwise good relationship. It all depends on the individuals involved and their willingness to make the transition. As with the old psychologist’s joke, “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”, the answer is, “It only takes one, but the light bulb has to want to change.”
Many want it both ways. They don’t want to give up the fun and excitement of doing whatever they want, whenever they want, and with whomever they want, but they also want to be in a serious, committed relationship. I’ve had many couples in therapy with one, and sometimes both, asking why she/he can’t go to Vegas (or anywhere else) with a group of girlfriends or boyfriends. This extends to many other activities like camping, as well. This isn’t to say people can’t have individual activities.
Even if nothing goes on, one has to consider the optics of the situation. A number of years ago I was at a conference checking into my hotel room. Most of the time my wife and I attended conferences together, even though it may have been for only one of us. This time I was solo. Another psychologist, a female, approached me, nicely asked if I would like to save money and split a room since both of us were there alone. Hmmmm. I knew many of the other attendees to the conference, as I’m sure she did. Imagine what it would have looked like the next morning with both of us coming out of the same room, regardless of whether it was just a convenient money-saving business arrangement. I politely declined.
Sure, it would be easy to say that I didn’t care what anyone else thought because I knew what had not happened, but that would not be the truth. Part of the responsibility of being in a committed relationship is to give very clear signals to others that I respect my relationship and would not do anything that even had the appearance of a willingness to disrupt it. In sports terminology, I was now involved in a team sport and no longer an individual sport. I had more to consider than just myself.
Couples should discuss this transition before it occurs, so the boundaries and ideas put them on the same page. Better to address this in advance, especially since most single people do not consider the optics, even if nothing else occurs.
Relationship transitions don’t have to have problems, but there are trap doors that can easily be avoided with some forethought. Respect your committed relationship and transition smoothly.
Until next time, this is Dr. Andrewtelling you to “Be kind to yourself.”