13 things I’ve Learned from My Six Month Relationship

Did everyone have a totally sweet Valentine’s Day? YAAAKKK. That was me tossing my cookies. I tried my best to break up with my girlfriend of six months right before V-Day and it almost worked…we broke up for three days after she pulled some sneaky stuff, and I was hoping it would last through the weekend so I could be spared the lameness of actual V-Day activities.

Unfortunately, my scheming didn’t work. We broke up and got back together late Friday the 13th. Smokin’ hot makeup sex ensued, and I was obligated to buy a gift and take her to dinner on Saturday, which is exactly what I did. Things have moved on from there. In case you’re keeping score, that’s FOUR pseudo breakups in the span of six months. Yes, I have a f’ed relationship. What, did you expect the perfect romance?

Since I just hit the half year mark in my rather unusual relationship, this post is about the 13 things I’ve learned since getting a girlfriend. Buckle your seat belts.

1. LTR’s are a shitload of work. You’re pretty much working at it all the time, and even if you’re not actively working on it, you’re probably expending mental cycles on how to maintain, fix, or improve your relationship. One issue I have is I don’t think about my LTR when I’m not around my girlfriend, and this gets me in trouble all the time. By contrast, she thinks about me and the LTR virtually every waking minute.

I don’t think it’s healthy to think about your relationship every waking minute. It’s exhausting. Plus, I have too many other creative projects to work on. Opinions? How often do you think about your GF/BF when that person is not around?

2. The sex evolves and generally improves after the transition from dating to LTR, but it comes and goes in waves. Generally, though, the quality is better than with a chick I’m just “dating.” My sexual skill set is fully utilized and I’m constantly challenged to get better in this area. I know I could probably “relax” and not work on the sex since I now have easy access to it, but I know that every aspect of my relationship would suffer if I did. I stress about this.

3. I want to nail other chicks. Not exactly a big shocker. What I do think is interesting is I know I could have unattached sex with other women and not have my feelings be affected for Megan. Like, I wouldn’t fall in love with another chick or anything like that. I’ve analyzed the emotions associated with this and determined that nailing hot chicks is just part of my core programming. I’m constantly asking myself, why is sex such a big deal? Why is it considered cheating? How did we get to a position where lifelong monogamy is considered “healthy?” I think it’s unhealthy to have only one partner for long stretches, say anything over 1 year. I’m fairly certain that if I had sex with other chicks, it would have the effect of rejuvenating my current relationship. Figure that one out.

No, I haven’t cheated on my girlfriend. That’s by choice.

4. It’s okay to get into a LTR even if you’re not a perfect match. There’s plenty of value to exchange in an imperfect relationship. A corollary to this: short-term relationships can be considered successes, too. We should move away from thinking of relationships as failures if they don’t end in marriage. That’s ridiculous. Give value and enrich each other and when it’s time to move on, move on.

5. People can change their behaviors. In a relationship, if you do something douchebaggy, that behavior can be modified with the right stimulus. The notion that people don’t change or that old dogs can’t be taught new tricks is ridiculous. In fact, if you’re really committed to a relationship, you need to embrace the notion that you have to modify your partners behavior and modify your own behavior. Don’t like the sound of that? You’re probably not ready for an LTR because you’ll keep making the same mistakes. Humans are adaptable creatures and capable of immense change.

6. Accept Confrontation. Don’t pussyfoot around when your partner acts like a douchebag. Occasionally use negative reinforcement. Avoid yelling, hysterics, and violence, but do bring it strong and stick to your guns. Seriously, this is another mistake I see in a lot of relationship advice. Too much sugarcoating. Humans are designed for confrontation. Use confrontation constructively. This is why guys can get into horrible fights with each other and then go get a beer in about five minutes. Confrontation is okay.

7. Apologize wholeheartedly when you f*ck up. I’ve done a lot of apologizing over the last six months because I act like a douchebag sometimes. Who doesn’t?

8. Even at the six month mark, I’m still running game on my partner. It’s a different type of game, but it’s still game. I talked to an older friend of mine, married for 30 years, and he said that he still “plays games” with his wife. Megan runs her chick game on me and I have to do my thing back. If I don’t, things get stale. It’s a lot of work.

9. Relationships are the death of creative projects and free time. Okay, that’s a little harsh, but it’s extremely difficult to balance a LTR and any personal project you have going on outside of a day-job. I totally get why busy professionals stay single. If you’re in a serious relationship, that’s basically the only major project you can work on. It better be what you want.

10. It is possible to break up and still be non-sexual friends. You have to accept that you can’t hate someone because of a breakup, avoid blame, and realize that you’ll be alright as a single person again. Don’t rule out the possibility of just being friends with former lovers.

11. Everyone is selfish, including you, and this will affect every part of your relationship. I had to embrace this and treat some portions of my relationship like a business, ie an exchange where we both benefited, in order for us to progress. Not very romantic, but romance is lame anyway. Maybe I just haven’t evolved into a higher life form where selflessness is de rigueur.

12. The most unselfish part of my relationship is in the bedroom! I freely giveth in this area.

13. There’s no such thing as a perfect match.

Bam, 13 thought bombs from my half year relationship. I hope you get some value from it. Feel free to tackle any one of these points in comments.

If this post made you want to leap feet-first into a long term relationship, you should also read these posts:

  1. Honey’s Take: The Key To Successful Relationships
  2. Lance’s Take: Key To Successful Relationships
  3. Are We Doomed To Relationship Failure?
  4. What Women Are Looking For…Hell, Men too!
  • http://tsquest.blogspot.com T

    Wow Lance! I’m very impressed with your observations!

    I do agree that an LTR takes a WHOLE lot of brain power… or at least my last one did. Maybe once you settle into a place of “knowing”, the stability helps loosen things up a bit. I think the first year of dating is very difficult because you’re just not sure… and 4 breakups in 6 months is terribly exhausting!

    Regarding the “games”… I think it comes down to the fact that we are opposite genders who think SO dramatically different. We have difficulty communicating because we look at life and relationships from such different places. Communication is of key importance in a relationship. But active communication means active talking and active listening. And we’re also two different people coming from two different perceptions, backgrounds, and environmental filters. Before too long, you’ll notice that you’ll just “get” each other without even trying.

    #4. I like this one. We can all use relationships to learn about relating…. not only with others but with ourselves as well. We learn much about who we are in relation to other people. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that there is much value in every relationship.

    Very astute observations, Lance! You should do these every 6 months!

    T´s last blog post…"Back in the day" isn’t so far away…

  • http://dadshouseblog.com dadshouse

    This is a great list. I agree that even the best relationships take work. 24/7? Nah… I do think it’s an unhealhty imbalance if one persons thinks about the relationship way more than the other person. Usually, expectations get skewed that way.

    As for nailing other women, I personally have found if I’m in a great relationship, I have no desire to sleep with anyone else. But if I’m in a less than fulfilling relationship, my gaze starts wandering. That’s sort of a litmus test for me.

    It is possible to break up and keep it non-sexual. I’m great friends with one ex-girlfriend. But she lives in LA, and we usually just talk on the phone. I have to admit, when we’ve gotten together in person, I’ve wanted to nail her again. But when she’s in LA, it’s great to pick each other’s brains on the phone when we need relationship advice, since we know each other so well.

    dadshouse´s last blog post…Lance Armstrong and Me on TV!

  • Kate

    This relationship doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. Though I agree that confrontation sometimes is necessary, that all relationships need work from time to time and that you don’t have to be a perfect match to be together, I do strongly believe in the rosy-tinted, floating, happy-happy, lovey-dovey beginning period.

    If a relationship starts out as being hard work, what is it going to be like when the first flush of love wears off and the going gets though(er)?

    On the other side, I have been together with my BF for over five years now and I definitely enjoyed the second half year better than the first, because I finally started believing that he truly wanted to be with me and I loosened up. Really, in relationships, there are no rules. You just have to go with your gut feeling.

  • http://20-forty.com/ lisaq

    Great list Lance. I totally agree that we have to stop looking at break ups as failures. They are simply a way to grow and learn.

    I do agree with Dad’s House that if I want to sleep with someone else while seeing someone, it means I’m not into it and need to move on.

    lisaq´s last blog post…Stressed? You Need a Kiss!

  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    Kate, thanks for stopping by! My LTR is actually a lot of fun…if it wasn’t I wouldn’t stick around. I’d say 90% of the time we’re having a blast, and the other 10% is a pain in the neck. But what can you do? I believe in the happy “honeymoon” period too but that wears off pretty quick.

    I think Megan is starting to realize that we’re in a adult relationship with adult commitments outside of each other, so she’s starting to not sweat the small stuff.

    Lance´s last blog post…13 things I’ve Learned from My Six Month Relationship

  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    I have a contrarian view of what you and DM are referring to, that is if you’re in a good LTR you don’t or shouldn’t want to sleep with someone else. I think it’s unhealthy to be so into someone that you shut off or repress your sexual side and not desire other partners. I’m totally into Megan, but I find other women sexually attractive and I fantasize about other women. This tells me my sexual drive is humming along normally. It’s by choice that I don’t seek to bang other chicks.

    Lance´s last blog post…13 things I’ve Learned from My Six Month Relationship

  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    T, thanks for commenting, I’ll probably be writing more about LTR insights while I’m in one. It’s been an interesting ride so far!

    Lance´s last blog post…13 things I’ve Learned from My Six Month Relationship

  • http://casualencounters.com/blog/ Casual Encounters

    Cynical truthiness as I like it. Excellent post. I wish more people knew about number 9.

    casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog post…How to Find Sex: the Art of the One Night Stand – Part 11 “Looking Ahead”

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Honey

    Rereading this one now, I don’t agree with #9. I go to the gym, write for this blog, read a ton of books, and cook extensively as a hobby all in addition to my LTR. It sounds more like your own time-management issue to me :-)