From Our Readers
September 14, 2014 8:35 am

I had been single for 27 years. 

When I say single, I mean SINGLE. I didn’t have a playground boyfriend in the second grade. I didn’t have a camp boyfriend in high school. I didn’t have a steady hookup in college. The closest I had come to having a boyfriend before the age of 27 was someone I dated in the last months of my 26th year. He had a classic case of non-committal blues, though, so the only thing official about us was our break up after my 27th birthday party. Literally. Right after my birthday party. Happy birthday to me. 

I wasn’t single for a lack of trying. I probably tried too much. I WANTED a boyfriend. I wanted someone to smile at me from across the room at social functions. Someone who was basically required to listen to me bitch after a long day. But the concept of actually being in a relationship seemed to be just out of my reach. 

That is, until I met my boyfriend a few months ago. Things clicked on our very first coffee date. We only hung out for an hour or so, but I had a feeling that we’d end up in a relationship. It was the first time an inaugural date had inspired such confidence in me. 

But since entering into said relationship, there’s something that I hadn’t been anticipating: I have no idea how to be in a relationship. Thankfully I have found one of the most easy-going men out there, so my significant other is more than happy to put up with me as I learn. But it doesn’t change my utter confusion at how to do this. 

I had been single for 27 years. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit—that means I habituated singlehood about 470 times over my short lifespan. I always thought it would be easy to change my lifestyle when a good guy came along, but I really underestimated how set in my ways I am. I’m used to dinner dates with friends almost every night of the week. I’m used to planning visits to my parents or friends in other cities whenever I want. I’m used to being an “I,” not a “we.” 

My boyfriend is incredibly understanding about my busy schedule — I can tell he admires my independence, which is one of the things I like most about him — but the thing is that I WANT to spend more time with him. I’m just not accustomed to having someone to plan my time around. 

And it’s more than just time. It’s knowing I can go to him when things are going wrong in my life. Previously, my goal was to keep it light with the person I was dating. I never wanted to bog him down with the crappy stuff (probably as the result of some stupid dating book I once read). I turned to my friends for comfort. But there’s a guy on the other side of my phone who actually wants to be there — I just need to get into the habit of taking him up on it. 

This is all part of the “we” that you sign up for when you get into a relationship. It’s part of the “we” that I’ve always wanted, only now that I have it, I forget it’s part of the membership. It’s like signing up for a gym, and forgetting about the free classes and towels. You’re really enjoying your time at the gym, but because you’re used to working out to an exercise video by yourself in your tiny apartment, you forget about the perks. You forget you don’t have to exercise alone. There are people to teach you how to exercise and do it with you. 

Our relationship is just about to hit the three-month mark. That’s almost three months since he asked me to break my 27-year single streak. That’s about six cycles of habit-forming activity compared to my single 470 cycles. But despite the challenges of breaking my single habit, there’s a great guy who’s making it all worth it.

Blair Thill is a project manager in media living in New York City. Her not-so-secret goal is to write the next great romantic comedy. She’s a chronic over-thinker, and would say she uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but it tends to work in her favor when it comes to meeting people. The key to knowing her is to watch Almost Famous and read Jane Austen.
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