For the vast majority of my young adult life, I have been a bit of loner. An introvert at heart, I do not have a huge group of friends, nor do I see my friends as much as I could. I never really dated in college and hadn’t had a proper boyfriend since high school. I’ve always been pretty independent and satisfied spending time alone.
So, when I first started dating my current boyfriend in my last semester of graduate school, the idea of not being single was somewhat hard to get used to. I didn’t immediately think about inviting him to family get-togethers or group outings with my friends. I was thrown off when friends and family members asked where he was or what he was up to when I showed up to an event solo. I forged ahead with my own plans for a Halloween costume because the idea of a couple’s costume never even crossed my mind. I didn’t view my boyfriend and myself as a collective unit; I viewed him as a complement to myself.
I’m not sure when the shift occurred, when I stopped thinking of my relationship as “him and me” and started thinking about it as “us.” I suppose it was around Thanksgiving, when we went to each others’ family holiday celebrations. I had never spent a holiday with a significant other before, and it felt weird to be attending each event as a single entity. Although the experience was foreign to me, it was also pleasant. After that point, I resolved myself to the fact that we were truly a collective unit.
Now, the idea of an existence completely apart from him is frightening to me. I now think of things in terms of us as a couple, rather than myself individually. We talk openly about trips we’d like to take, plans for our second year of dating, and ideas for activities we would like to do this fall. We hint at the possibilities of someday living together, getting married, and having children. And, not only have I opened myself up to the idea of doing a couple’s costume for Halloween, but we’ve actually already discussed potential costumes.
This transition into the “we” versus “you and me” mentality is scary for an independent and reluctant introvert like myself, but it is also really exciting. It’s the start of a new chapter in my life, and I can’t see where the road takes us.