The Big Leap: Transitioning Outta Single Life, Part 1
A few months back, I launched a new component to The Tended Garden—a 3-question survey.
To the question, “What types of articles do you want to read more of?” one reader responded, “How to successfully transition from single life to life in a relationship.”
It was something I hadn’t seriously considered: How to transition from the freedom and autonomy I enjoy as a single person into a partnership. My interest was sparked, so I decided to explore the subject. Having limited experience, I thought I’d talk to someone who had insight on significant transitions into: relationship, cohabitation, marriage, and step parenthood.
My long-time friend Vanesha and I sat down for a conversation that was so funny and emotional and honest that it took us 75 minutes to get through, which is why the post is split into 2-parts.
True to her personality, Vanesha, who met her husband in May 2010 and was married by May 2011, laid it all out for anyone who, like my dear reader, is wondering what a successful transition looks like.
Here, she talks about her experience transitioning out of single life.
Starr (S): Tell me about move-in day.
Vanesha (V): What’s so funny about move-in day is it just happened.
I remember when we first started hanging out that we really enjoyed each other’s company so we spent time together every day. He still lived where he lived and I still lived where I lived—not far apart—but we would talk on the phone throughout the day, then he would come over every evening.
At the end of July, his roommate mentioned that they were all moving to Humble (a Houston suburb about an hour away from Vanesha’s home) and I didn’t want him to move far away. That same night I asked him about it, which sparked a “Are we going in the same direction?” conversation. My attitude showed that I didn’t want him to move. And he seemed reluctant to move.
I told him that essentially he’d been living with me since we’d met because he was rarely at his own place, but I never push anybody into making a decision so I told him whatever he did was up to him. He asked, surprised, “So you’d want me to be here?” I was like, “Yes!” And right then, we decided we’re doing this. We started moving his clothes in.
S: Was “We’re doing this” a loaded statement? Did it mean that you were just moving in? Or did it mean that you all were working on a long-term committed future together?
V: In my mind, it meant we were working on a future commitment. At that time, I don’t know what his meaning was. I felt like he wanted to be with me and enjoyed spending time with me. And in the back of my mind I always…I just knew when we met...and our connection…that he was going to be my husband. I knew that.
S: How long was it between the time you first met your husband until he finally moved in?
V: We met in May and he moved in at the end of July.
S: Really? Wow!
V: Yep. It was fast.
S: Do you think that was risky?
V: Looking back now, yes! <<Laughs really hard.>> Well, he wanted to make sure that whatever he did would keep us connected. Going back to before he moved in, we had a conversation about marriage. Not about us getting married, but about our ideas about relationships and marriage. In the past, I’d been hesitant about bringing up conversations like that because I didn’t want to scare him off, but you have to put your cards on the table to make sure you two are on the same page.
S: It’s never a proposal; it’s just a conversation.
V: Right. It’s just: we’re talking.
I remember we were in the car going to get yogurt and I asked him how long he felt people should be in relationships before they start talking marriage. He said he thought people should date for a couple of years, and then be engaged for maybe a year.
At this time I was 32 and I wanted a family. I started doing the math, so when we got home I stepped out on faith and told him how I felt. I told him that I’d be unwilling to wait for two years. I was at a point in my life where I knew what I wanted in a relationship and it wouldn’t take me two years to figure it out. If I’d been spending a lot of time around a person, I’d know in 6 months, tops.
I wasn’t aggressive about my opinion and let him know that I understood that everyone was different. I was very matter-of-fact. Not defensive and not offensive. And that was the end of the conversation. We didn’t say anything else about it.
Fast forward to July (two months later). When he said, “Are we going to do this?” I said, “Yeah. Let’s do it.”
I knew how my family would feel about us moving in together.
V: Yes! Shackin’! But I didn’t care. This is my life. When I look back over it, I don’t want to be regretful about a decision that I didn’t make because I didn’t want my mama to be mad. I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to make decisions based on what was going to make me happy. I think that decision was best for me. It might not be best for everybody. I know some people don’t believe in shackin’.
Before that time, I didn’t want to live with anyone, but when I met someone that was going to be my one, I went in head first.
S: What was your life like prior to meeting your husband? Specifically, the last 6 months?
V: I met a man before I met my husband that played games and wasn’t ready to be married. I knew I was looking for a forever partner and not someone to hang out with.
I did a lot of dating and working on myself.
I was going through a turnaround at that time because I wasn’t satisfied with myself physically and personally. I wasn’t happy about my weight, my job at the time, my dating situation, I was not happy with the way my life was panning out right then.
I decided to do something different. I encouraged myself do something for myself—figure out what I wanted out of life and work towards that. I decided to get myself together and trusted that everything would fall into place.
I told myself: Don’t worry about what anyone says. Don’t worry about a man. Just get yourself together, take better care of yourself, make yourself happy, and everything will fall into place. I don’t know if I had some kind of aura after that, but afterwards I met my husband. That six months [before meeting her husband] was an eye opener.
S: So, let’s go over the list. You decided to focus on?
V: Getting my health in order, going back to school to get my Masters, and not focus on dating. That’s all.
S: That’s a lot.
V: I also started going out with no expectations. I could never just go out with my girls without hoping that I’d meet a man. I was so focused on finding my husband instead of just enjoying the moment. When I let all that go and just started living, that’s when it happened.
S: What were you, as a single person, most looking forward to in a committed relationship? What were your assumptions?
V: I’m not going to lie to you. I was looking forward to sex whenever I felt like it.
As a single person, you have to wait to meet someone, then wait to see if they like you and all this stuff. I was looking forward to constant companionship.
<<She begins mocking herself.>> I was looking forward to someone massaging my shoulders when I got home and massaging my feet while we were sitting on the couch watching a movie. I was looking forward to always being able to talk to someone and be open with them all the time!
<<We both fall out laughing at her imagination.>>
S: You were the Mayor of Fantasyland.
V: <<Still laughing.>> I truly thought that’s the way it was going to be!
S: So, you’re married now. Has married life lived up to those expectations?
V: Sometimes. Sometimes you get a foot massage or a back rub. Sometimes that person wants to talk to you, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I don’t want to be touched when I come in from work and that’s what I thought I was going to want. And sometimes he wants to talk, but I don’t want to listen. I didn’t realize it’d be like that.
We’re six years in now. What I’ve realized about us is that sometimes he’s really into me, or I’m really into him, or we’re really into each other, or sometimes we’re just friends. He’s my best friend, but if a storm is going on, we have enough love in reserve to get through the spell.
It ebbs and flows.
S: Was your transition a tough one? If yes, how so?
V: <<Find out Vanesha's answer next Tuesday in the last half of our conversation.>>
Vanesha is a Librarian in a major school district outside of Houston. She’s a wife and mother of 3 girls—one energetic toddler and two beautiful step daughters.
Photo credit: Unsplash via Pexels