Single-Long Term Relationships
Section 3: Moving Into Long Term Relationships
At this point, I hope you’ve taken some time to step away from your excitement a bit, checked your hormones for a minute and considered some of the thoughts we’ve raised about entering a long-term relationship. If after all of this, your answer is still a clear YES! Then here are some thoughts about how to move into a different kind of experience with a special lady friend.
When Do We Move Into “Long Term Relationship” Status?
Hmmm, this is on a case-to-case basis. I’ve dated guys for 3 months (during which time we were both seeing other people) before we decided to date exclusively. There were other times when virtually from the day we met we had no interest in dating anyone else. A good rule of thumb is that you’re ready when you find yourself wanting to spend more of your time and attention with this particular woman; that she captivates you, interests you and excites you more than the others you’ve dated…she stands out. You feel more enthused to see her than the rest; you find yourself thinking about her more than the others; your time together seems to go smoother and you like how you feel as a result.
It’s important that you get a sense of where she’s at in this whole picture; whether she’s interested in having a LTR or if she’s simply casually dating; whether she’s in a place in her life where she has time and attention to devote to a relationship; whether she’s rebounding from an ex and looking to distract herself. These are all considerations to make when you’re first getting to know one another and trust her when she tells you her answers. People usually speak their truth the first time you ask; and though this may not be the answer you want, believe her words.
Of course, there is no singular way that this will go. I do know that if you attempt to put it into an equation or squeeze it too much, it will extract all of the fun and bliss out of the process. Allow things to naturally unfold and if you want to know where things stand, don’t be afraid to ask. Go slowly and relax; she will show you through the attention she gives you and the positive indicators she offers (inviting you over, introducing you to her friends, including you in her life) that she’s into you. At that point, if the feelings are mutual, you’ll naturally want to see each other more, talk more and be more involved with one another.
What’s Appropriate Now?
We as humans typically apply previous knowledge to new circumstances. Though this is a common practice, it can lead to some interesting challenges in a new relationship if you aren’t applying current information to suit the current relationship. This goes for who you are now (you aren’t the same guy that dated your ex) and the woman that’s in your life now (she may look like your ex, but she’s not her). This is especially the case if some of you are newly single after a long-term relationship, a marriage or a long stint of singlehood.
For example, if you got into the habit with your previous girlfriend of calling her everyday and texting her several times throughout the day, you may apply that same gusto to this new gal. Though there’s nothing “wrong” with this scenario, this new woman may not like or want that much contact with you (in the beginning). Another example is about spending time together. You may assume (because this is what you and your ex did) that you’d spend most nights or weekends together and that you really don’t have to make plans. This new woman may be more independent and like a bit of space. My point here is that you’d be well served by asking a few key questions to get a sense of what’s most appropriate given this new situation with this new woman at this new time in your life. I’m not suggesting that you have to throw out your own particular style and tendencies; I’m implying that you pay attention to what’s most effective and fitting for this moment.
Throughout your conversations, try to work in some of these questions (don’t go down the checklist please) naturally, to give you some sense of her particular likes and style:
- How often do you like to check in with someone you’re with (i.e. through text, phone, email)?
- What kinds of things would you enjoy doing with someone you’re dating?
- How much space do you like in relationships?
- Is monogamy what you prefer?
- How much have your friends/family been involved in your relationship life?
I’m going to throw out a note of caution once again to work these in smoothly, as they naturally arise in the course of conversations. The past is only one indicator, not the only indicator of her future preferences.
A Few Words About “The Past”…
Though we’ve said if before, it doesn’t hurt to remind you again NOT to get into too much detail about your previous relationships (yours and hers). You don’t need to share nor do you need to know the number of people either of you have been with…you don’t need to know specifics of how they were together, what brought them together, etc. The only thing that’s worth really knowing here is that she’s been able to move forward. If you get a sense that she’s hung up on old stuff, it’s ok to inquire about why her previous relationship ended. This is important as it relates to her ability to really be available to you now. If it appears that she’s still tangled with an old flame, don’t be afraid to give her space until she’s clearer about what she wants. Don’t get into a power struggle with vying for her attention and wooing her away from the clutches of an ex. That’s her battle to work out. Handle yourself with class and integrity and be willing to explain that you’d be interested in seeing her more when she’s got the past cleared up. This demonstrates that you are confident enough to ask for someone’s full attention.
If you’re both free and clear and ready to experience someone new in your life, allow the newness to happen. What I mean by this is that it’s important to limit your chat about the past and focus on the present. Along those lines, if you’ve decided to move things into a LTR status, you’d be wise to consider removing indicators of other women from your eyesight. This doesn’t mean that you have to burn every piece of memorabilia from the past, just put it somewhere else. If you really want to get to know this new woman, limit the distractions around you. With regard to the women in your life that you’ve either had as friends with benefits or those that you’ve casually dated (and still have some contact with), it’s important that if the agreement that you have with this new woman is to be exclusive, that you let this be known to the women from your past. Trust me that it will be much cleaner this way than to get a 3 a.m. booty call and have to explain yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to scroll through your contact list and put an APB out about your new relationship. It simply means that you let them know when you talk next time that you’re excited about a new woman in your life and you hope to stay in touch with them, just on a different basis.
How About My Stuff?
Another question that oftentimes comes up is around the notion of keeping stuff at one another’s houses. When is it appropriate? When she tells you it is. Until then, don’t presume that it’s ok. She’ll either buy you a toothbrush to keep at her place or she’ll suggest that you should keep your stuff there. The key is not to make assumptions or jump the gun and push things beyond what feels natural due to your enthusiasm or anxiety. Strategically, I mean accidentally, leaving a sweatshirt or other non-crucial item at her place can suggest that you intend to come back for it (or gives you an excuse to anyway).
Keep It Balanced
As we’ve mentioned previously, it is easy to get swept up in the passion of a new romance and the crazy brain chemistry that’s happening. We’ve devoted an entire track to Keeping Your Life Balanced and how important it is that you continue to devote time and attention to the things that make you tick. Besides, those are the very elements that attracted this new woman into your life and continuing to cultivate those aspects will keep her in your life. A man who offers the Better Deal understands that there are many aspects to attend to in life that create a sense of equilibrium and wellbeing.
Please refer to our Romantic Gestures and Date Ideas to keep things fresh and exciting. Be sure to use our calendar to schedule events, keep track of important dates with you and your new flame, and use the profile section to remember the most important facts about her and your burgeoning relationship. Most importantly, have fun with this and remember that this is just another life experience to enjoy and learn from. We’re here to support you along the way!