Finding an instant connection with a potential SO is great. Unfortunately, it can be hard to integrate someone new into your lifestyle, especially when it’s a new romantic partner.
Here are some tips to make that transition go more smoothly on both sides.
The Struggle With Someone New
Just as people exit our lives, people also come into them when we least expect it. It can be a romantic interest or even a really close friend. Regardless, while we want to foster new relationships, it can be hard to fit them into our busy, difficult, or hyper-scheduled lives.
Obviously, you’ll find time to meet, but shaking up your regular routine can be anxiety-inducing and frustrating. Not to mention, there is now a whole new person whose feelings and way of life you’ll be considering.
The following tips should help save you unnecessary stress in the future.
Create Strict Boundaries (but only on the things that really matter to you)
At first, this could sound a little problematic. You don’t want to come off aggressive or like a control freak, listing off every one of your pet peeves.
Aside from what you’d usually think of as boundaries, also consider talking about habits and preferences.
This tip is not about the little things that bother you. It’s more about introspection and figuring out the things you’re unable to compromise on – whether it’s a moral choice, avoiding/reducing anxiety, or something that just makes you uncomfortable.
Maybe for you it’s driving in big cities, or that you don’t drink, or that a certain kind of social atmosphere makes you really uncomfortable.
Aside from what you’d usually think of as boundaries, also consider talking about habits and preferences. Tell them if you are really academically oriented and don’t really have time to hang out during the week. If they don’t answer messages within a day and you feel neglected, it is perfectly okay to bring it up.
Knowing that you have these boundaries and that your new ‘person’ doesn’t share them can be really stressful. By explaining them to your new partner right away, you can get past that anxiety and uncomfortableness. It may help to work through your list with a trusted friend, or even in an anonymous peer support group.
But How Do I Set My Boundaries?
The best way to do this is to bring it up casually. You don’t want to make a big deal about it, but you should also stay firm. Use the following as a template for setting your boundaries:
“Just letting you know, I don’t (drive in big cities; drink alcohol; enjoy clubs; etc.). It’s something that makes me uncomfortable, so I stay away from that kind of situation. Hope that’s okay with you. I just wanted to tell you in advance.”
By clearly communicating your boundaries, it’ll be easier to incorporate someone new into your life without causing turmoil. Your new partner should be understanding of these boundaries, as long as you communicate to them in a kind, but firm way. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it should be discussed.
Avoid Defensiveness, Avoid Difficult Conversations
When you are broaching these topics, you want to approach your new friend in a way where they won’t become defensive.
Let them know that you understand that they aren’t doing anything to hurt/upset you intentionally, but you feel badly when they do x, y or, z.
This way you aren’t attacking them as a person or hurting them, but you are bringing something to their attention that they can to work on to better your relationship.
The last tip and this tip go hand in hand.
While it is important to voice your concerns with a new person, you can’t change everything about them. No one is perfect, and no one is going to fit perfectly into your life. Same goes for you – you might have ways of doing things that hurt them. It’s all about compromise.
In Summary: Find Middle Ground
Consider your feelings, but also think about theirs. If you are constantly telling them what they are doing wrong, they’re going to start to get upset and distance themselves. Pick and choose the important things to discuss, and try to find ways to minimize the effects of the small ones.
Hopefully they will be communicating with you about their boundaries as well. Remember that if they are willing to take your criticisms into account, you should also work to listen to their concerns and requests.
Any kind of relationship is a two-way street, and without meeting halfway, one person is going to feel like they are doing all of the giving in without any effort in return.
Incorporating someone new into your life requires communication and letting people know your boundaries in order to avoid conflict.
But remember that the point of bringing someone new into your life is to have fun and enjoy your time together. You have chosen to include this person in your life for a reason – because you click well.
Try not focus on the negatives, revel in the positives, and everything should be just fine.
If you want to sort out your feelings with nonjudgmental people who understand what you’re going through, try entering your thoughts at Supportiv.
Written by: Maria Stanica