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Starting a new relationship

Starting a new relationship can be exciting but also daunting- there’s lots you’ll need to figure out together about what the relationship will look like.  

Relationships in real life are rarely like the ones you see on TV or in books – they often require a lot more effort to make them work. Here are some things you should be aware of when you start a relationship.  

1. Talk about how things are going 

Communication is essential for all relationships including non-monogamous and casual relationships. You both need to know where you stand and you need to talk about what a relationship means to both of you. If one person wants a relationship where they can see other people and the other person doesn’t then this isn’t likely to work.  

2. There’s no ‘right’ way 

There is no blueprint or ‘ideal’ relationship. If you’re looking for answers to questions such as  

  • Are we going too fast? 
  • When should I introduce them to my family or friends? 
  • Is it too soon to become official? 
  • How much time is normal to spend together? 
  • Should we keep our friends separate or become a part of each other’s friendship group? 

You’re not likely to find the answer anywhere but by talking to the other person. The right time to become official or meet each other’s friends will all depend on how you both feel, and this might not be at the same time as each other.  

Talk to them about your expectations in a partner and how you see things progressing, before you get into a relationship with them but also check back in to make sure you’re both happy with where you are. Your expectations might change over time or might be different to previous relationships or to your friends’ and that’s okay – relationships mean different things to everyone.   

3. Make sure your relationship compliments your life 

You may find you have less free time now you’re in a relationship and want to spend time with them. But it’s really important that you don’t forget the other parts of your life before you had a relationship. Your hobbies and interests are part of what makes you ‘you’. One person cannot be responsible for all your happiness, so you need to make sure you have other things going on in your life that you get joy from.

If you’re feeling anxious when they’re not around, you’re constantly checking your phone to see if they’ve messaged or message them constantly when you’re not with them, then it might be a good idea to take some time for yourself. Find a new hobby or discover old ones, contact old friends or spend time with your family and explain why this is important to you so they know where they stand.  

4. Make time for friends 

Friends are often the ones who are there for you through thick and thin, especially when you’re at school or college and you get to see them every day. You might have less free time now that you’re in a relationship and this might make your friends worried they won’t get to see you as often or that you’ll forget about them. Reassure your friends that you’ll still want to spend time with them and they’re still an important part of your life. If they ask to meet up but you’re busy always suggest a new time and make an effort to keep them in your life. 

It’s always helpful to have people you can talk to about your relationship- they can support you if things are tough or they can help you spot signs of where things aren’t working in your relationship. More about how friends can support each other in relationships

5. Don’t forget to put yourself first 

Contrary to what we’re told in films and books, love isn’t all about putting someone else’s needs above your own. It’s always nice to do things for other people like watching the films they want to watch, eating at their favourite places or helping them with their problems and, it’s also a great way to get to know them better. But if you’re doing these things for them, they should be doing the same for you. You shouldn’t put someone else’s needs before your own to the point where your needs aren’t being met. If someone asks too much of you, even in a relationship, it’s fair to say no and explain why. Every relationship has their boundaries of what you do and don’t want to do for each other, you just need to figure out where the line is.  

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