You’re long past the awkward early stages of dating where you aren’t sure whether to introduce him as your friend, your boyfriend or “that guy you’re sleeping with”. You and your boyfriend have tackled all the awkward things already, from that time when you had to use the washroom and ran out of toilet paper so you had to text him to bring you some, to the time he made you laugh and you snorted ketchup out of your nose. You’re as solid as they come and you couldn’t be happier to be out of the horrendous dating pool. Maybe you’d like it if he initiated the bedroom fun once in a while, without you hinting at it, but you might be being picky. You even enjoy spending time playing cards with his parents, while they tell him that he’s “put on a bit of weight.” There are certainly a lot of perks associated with being in a relationship: always having a wedding date, not having to fend off awkward drunk men at the bar (because he’s always there with you), and having someone to ask all your strange guy questions to (like: does it hurt when you make it spin like a helicopter? Or what’s with your Adam’s Apple?) That being said, there are a lot of things that you stop doing as well, now that you are no longer a “you” but a “we” instead. (It’s not all bad, don’t worry) But here are some of those things that you all stop doing when you’re in a relationship, just in case you haven’t noticed yet.
15Using Dating Apps (hopefully)
Now that you’ve been with your boyfriend for a while, it’s hopefully safe to assume you have given up on all other things “date” related, such as deleting your Plenty of Fish account and stopping, as difficult as it is, to swipe for pure amusement. Now one of your favorite, most-mindless activities must be replaced with something equally mindless like Fruit Ninja or Pokémon Go. Not really a big deal, though, is it, since you didn’t like him playing the swiping game while you two were together anyway. You guys have stopped “dating other people” and stopped using dating apps because you have made the decision to be committed to only each other; it sounds pretty sappy when you put it that way, but you’re blissfully happy with just being with him and that’s good enough for you. Now if you could only convince your bestie Angela to stop going on dates with people, other than her “boyfriend” Anthony, you’d be all set.
14Struggling to open the pickle jar
When you think about it, struggling to open the pickle jar isn’t really that big of a deal, is it? In fact, it’s more of a metaphor for all of the things you don’t have to struggle through anymore. Know those bowls that you have to climb on the chair to get onto the counter, to stand on the counter to reach, all so you can have a big fat bowl of popcorn with drizzled butter? Yeah, those days are done for you, now that you’ve found Mr. Right (or maybe just Mr. Taller-and-longer-wingspan-than-you). You have him to use his man-muscles (and height) and do all the things that you used to have quite the job doing (like move the television), so now you can just sit back and look pretty (do all of your feminine, independent, important things) while you wonder why more girls don’t see this enormous benefit to having a boyfriend.
13Wearing nice pajamas
In the early stages of the relationship, looking sexy before bed was a must. You needed to entice him into wanting you, and your body (and your mind?) and dressing like a Victoria’s Secret model definitely helped make him cuddle you afterward. You used to wear them all the time, but now he’s seen you shower and pop your own pimples so there’s no going back from that… Now that comfort is key, you take the liberty of cracking out the onesie with the feet for those cold winter nights. He’ll still snuggle you; it’s grown on him now and he can’t sleep next to you without pawing at you. And you still have those sexy little lingerie numbers tucked in the drawer in a safe space for those milestone holidays: Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, his birthday, steak and BJ day… You don’t need to wear the sexy jammies on the regular now because your life has gone from mysterious and exciting to comfortable and practical. And you’ve both embraced it.
12Volunteering to do little things
Remember back after your second or third date, around the time you first spent the night at his place, and he ran out of soap but had to run to work, so you told him not to worry, you’d run to the drug store and grab some while he was working? Weren’t you the chipper, sweet, little volunteer, poster girl girlfriend back then? You used to volunteer to do the grocery shopping because you got off work an hour early, or you agreed to make dinner when it was his turn, but now you sort of expect these things to be done on more of a set routine, or as a unit. Why go through the hassle of shopping alone when you enjoy it more with him. Granted, it takes twice the amount of time when you go together, but the experience is so much more worth it. And you’re still happy to go it alone on some things if it’s laid out clearly as one of your tasks that you are expected to do to keep the relationship functioning so you can both eat, shower, sleep, etc. But he better not ask you to go to the hardware store… it’s his job. 😛
11You’ve stopped hiding your retainer
This point is the fancy way of telling you that you just wear your retainer to bed around him now. There’s no getting around it. Just like all the time you spent wearing your sexiest lingerie nightwear for him, and making sure your bra and underwear matched, you also hid a few dirty little secrets from him. You hid how you like to eat your Kraft Dinner doused in mustard and your weird crooked toenail. You also hid your “most attractive” asset: your mouth guard. It smells funky. It looks awkward. You talk funny when you’re using it. Who cares because you guys are at that point now where you wonder what have you got to hide at this point, anyway? And one day he will appreciate all of the pillow drool and weird-breathing noises because you are going to have the straightest, not-chipped teeth that anyone has ever seen.
10Posting “dating sucks” messages on social media
Everyone gets it. Dating is awful. It’s almost as bad as being single (arguably worse) because everyone gets stuck in that in-between phase where you wonder are-we-or-aren’t-we and you feel weird about asking so you just let the relationship drift down its course all while hoping it ends mercifully soon and painlessly or that this guy becomes your Mr. Right. (Right now!) There are tons of jokes and memes and stand up comedy routines that make fun of this very thing. Truth be told, you got to be a bit cold and ruthless when it came to your dating updates on social media. You were always the negative one when your friends posted about the new guy they were seeing and you’re still a bit of a skeptic about love at first sight – whatever that even means. But now that you’re dating the man of your dreams, (how you can dream about anyone other than Channing Tatum is beyond fathoming – Jenna, if you are reading this – good on ya); your terrible-outlook hilarious but very anti-dating posts have ceased because you’re a changed gal and you’re very much in love.
9Wearing “pick-up” clothes to the bar
Friday and Saturday nights. You love them and you hate them. They had become familiar to you as girls’ nights where you and your girls would get all fancied up in your cutest mini dresses or high-waisted skirts, throw on some heels that you will be too drunk to walk in after a few drinks and put on way too much eye liner. Because, you, friend, are on the prowl. You, like so many others, do not even know what you’re looking for, whether it’s a one-night stand, love, or just some cute boy to buy you drinks and dance with all night long, but you know you’ve gotta look good to do it (whatever IT is). But now that you’re known as your boyfriend’s wifey, you’re quite content to rock out in your cute blue jeans and a low cut tank top when you go to the bar. And you’ve swapped those 6-inch stilettos for some more practical 3-inch wedge heels, and you still look cute to boot. Gone are the days when you have to wear pick-up clothes to the bar; now, if you wear them, it’s ‘cuz you want to.
8Flirting (with each other)
You remember your first date like it was yesterday. You put on some extra blush and shiny lip-gloss and you did your hair flip, head cock, one-sided smile and you had him. Your flirt game is A+. You lassoed him, pulled the rope tight and wheeled him in like a fishing line and that was that. You remember the chemistry; the look in his blue eyes and his smug smirk drove you nuts. But that was all part of the chase and now that the chase has been won arguably by either of you, the flirting has ceased and you are left with the occasional inside joke, sharing meals together and laughing over the same inappropriate joke at the most inopportune moment. Now that you’re in a relationship for the long haul you’ve stopped flirting with each other, but from time to time, you do flirt with the cute waiter at the corner sandwich restaurant or the guy who works at the gym. You gotta make sure you still have it, right? Or you could start flirting with your boyfriend again. That works, too.
7Normal household things that your partner also does
Basically, now that you know your partner likes to have sparkling dishes, right after a meal, while you’d prefer to loaf for an hour and digest before tackling them, you just leave them because you know he will do them, or vice versa. Why clean the shower when you know they eventually will? There’s no point in you both doing the same thing twice, so you’ve decided to prioritize and only do the stuff that you want to do, that you know he’s NOT going to take initiative and do all on his own. It’s a pretty legit argument when you think about it. It’s all about maximizing what gets done, while still maintaining free lazy time for you. Surely, there are things you both do together, like Swiffer, or Windex the windows, but why should it take two people to fill or empty the dishwasher? Or why should you both fight for the mop just to get the kitchen floor looking less covered in bagel crumbs? Why do today what someone else will do tomorrow? Or something like that…
6Focusing on “you”
Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The final stage is Self-Actualization because it’s where you finally get to focus on you, once all of your basic needs are met. Sometimes, what happens, though, is that you get stuck at the social stage of the pyramid and your relationship takes more priority over your own self. It’s key to remember that you are still an independent entity separate of your relationship; it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle that is “we” in the relationship. Things that you would normally do alone, to make you happy, either turns into a pair-affair, or you just stop doing it. When’s the last time you went and got a pedicure? Or saw a chick flick by yourself? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to invest in a little bit of you time. It’s not selfish; it’s all part of self-care, that is essential if you want your relationship to stand the test of time.
5Complimenting each other
Compliments are all part of the flirting game. You give each other little gifts of sneaking kisses, flowers, chocolates or bottles of cheap wine. You tell him he looks ruggedly handsome on your date, and he tells you that you look beautiful in your half-cocktail-half-club dress that you’ve worn out to your date at the grand opening of the new lounge downtown. When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, certain things get lost. Whereas you used to compliment each other semi-frequently, it’s now reserved for occasions where you actually spend 2-3 hours on your hair and make-up, like a wedding, and he only says it because he feels obligated to or you pull a “how do I look” on him. But you’re not innocent either. You’ve stopped telling him how hot he looks in his sweaty gym clothes post-run and how much you love it when he cleans up in a suit for a work function. Maria Bamford said: “It’s always the compliments from people you love that mean so much” and she was definitely right, especially in relationships.
4Appreciating the little things
It’s easy to point the finger at someone for making a mistake because y’all are humans and it’s easy to make mistakes. To err is human, or something like that. Early on when you were still in the “courting” phase, you appreciated every little thing that he did from opening the car door for you to winning you a small plushie at the local carnival. These things have now become so ingrained in your relationship that you have now come to expect them, even though they are far from necessary.
The thing to remember is that guys think much differently than girls, and it’s not ingrained in their brains like it is in yours, so when they do these little things time and time again, it’s because they are thinking about you, and they want to do something for you, not because they think it’s required to be in the relationship. It’s difficult to remember the early stages when you’ve been with someone so that length of time in a long-term situation, but remember, nothing other than honesty, fidelity, communication, and companionship are really required of a relationship so it’s best to appreciate all the extras, no matter how small.
3Being mentally/emotionally self-sufficient
You know by now that it’s not just about opening up the proverbial pickle jar. In the past, when you didn’t have a partner to rely on, you often were tasked with serious life issues and unresolved feelings that you learned to work out by yourself, with maybe some support from a friend or your mom. You don’t have to worry about that anymore because that’s what boyfriends are for. Isn’t that written in a manual, somewhere? Now, every little thing that pops up, you put on him, because it’s easier, and it’s become more comfortable for you to let him solve your problems instead of you trying to help yourself first. You’re sure he can handle all that extra stress of your life’s woes on top of his own, so why not? Just because you’ve been doing it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best thing to stop doing when you’re in a relationship. Try to maintain some of your self-sufficiencies and let him work on him for a bit.
2Shaving your legs
Being in a long-term relationship is pretty much the same as it being winter all the time. Unless you’re going to a fancy event where you’ve gotta be bare-legged, you probably aren’t shaving down the wooly mammoth for your man. You guys have a pretty good arrangement where you don’t have to try so much with those beautifying things so long as you keep certain parts of your body maintained. Your legs are not on that list, and you’ve been together so long that he doesn’t even care if he runs his hand along your leg and gets tickled by prickles. He may even call you out on how dark your leg hair is against your pasty-white skin, but it’s not because it bothers him, it’s because he knows it bothers you, and he’s looking for a rise out of you. You may not have to shave your legs in this long-term relationship, but you do have to suffer through his awful sense of humor, even when it’s at your expense. You’ve already thrown away the razor; maybe it’s time to crack out the laughing gas.
1Going out for drinks
This should not be confused with going out on dates because that is absolutely essential to maintain your sanity in a relationship. This point is discussing the somewhat necessity of including alcohol on your dates. It’s not that you don’t go drinking together because you two party animals surely do, but it’s more of the fact that you two don’t require alcohol to help with the nervous tension of dating someone new. The nerves are gone now that you’re in a relationship and now you drink because you want to, rather than dying of stage fright on every date you two go out on. Anything you may have hidden from your partner before you two became “serious”, that you may have spat out one stupidly drunken night at a concert, comes out normally during daily dinnertime conversations. Alcohol has a new purpose for the two of you now: something to quench your thirst while you both bitch to each other about your days. No liquid courage required.