Husband Started Off as a One Night Stand

I genuinely thought it would be a one night stand. Chris and I first met at a restaurant where we both worked—I was 23 and waiting tables while in grad school, he was the new chef that I saw around here and there. He seemed cool, even if I wasn’t really interested in dating anyone seriously at the time (I was only a few months out of a bad relationship and was big into just focusing on me). I spent my free time going to parties, hanging out with my roommates, and having the occasional hookup that I chose not to pursue as anything more. And I have to say, it was amazing to have that kind of freedom after spending so much time agonizing over where my last relationship was headed.

Still, Chris was cute, so when he invited me over to his place for dinner one night, I decided to go. We got to know each other a little better over homemade pizzas and wine and then…we slept together. It was fun, I had a good time, but I really didn’t think anything was going to come of it. I figured he was typical one-night stand material and decided to see it as just a good time I had once that I could move on from quickly. Great.

But after our first night together, we ended up hanging out more and started to see each other pretty regularly. While we got along great, our relationship was heavily physical. Since he worked long hours, we’d meet up when he got off work around 11 p.m., hang out for a bit, hook up, and then go our separate ways.

Everything was fine until a few weeks in, when I met him at a halfway point between our apartments at 1 a.m. after he worked a really late shift. “This is moving too fast, physically,” he said. “We don’t even really know each other.” He told me he thought we should put the brakes on things, and we both went back to our own places that night. I assumed that was the end of that.

Was it kind of awkward seeing him at work the next day? Oh yes. But I figured it would fade—after all, it’s not like I was planning out a future with this guy, we were just having fun.

That night, I went to play pool with some coworkers and Chris showed up when he got done with work. I steered clear of him for most of the night until he finally pulled me aside, apologized for how things went down the night before, and said he wanted to keep seeing each other—he just wanted us to actually get to know each other better.

So we did. It was kind of an odd reversal—we had to learn to take a step back to actually get to know each other more instead of just chatting and sleeping together (instead we had long talks and thenslept together), but we found that we really liked each other. We started spending all of our free time together, and things progressed from there.

Chris quickly became the most stable, reliable, and caring guy I’d ever dated. Three months in, we exchanged “I love yous” and we’re now married with kids.

Don’t get me wrong: Never once did I think early on that I’d end up marrying the guy. But by not putting any pressure on the relationship in the beginning, we allowed it to progress naturally. So, whenever I hear people throw out that “rule” that you shouldn’t sleep together on the first date, I just laugh—because I’m proof that it’s bullshit.

Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., a sexologist and sexuality educator agrees. “I think it’s a ridiculous rule, based on old ideas of how women were supposed to act in order to ‘get the guy’—as if sex and love were a game to be won or lost,” she says. “It doesn’t take into account that women have sexual feelings, the same way that it gives all the power to men that someone is not going to like you if you sleep with them on the first date.” Levkoff says it’s perfectly OK to trust your gut and operate on instinct when it comes to dating and sex. “That means whatever decision you make is one that’s genuine and authentic,” she says. And, she points out, if you end up sleeping with someone right away and it doesn’t work out, it likely wasn’t going to work out anyway.

“So many women are socialized to second-guess themselves, but there’s nothing better than taking ownership of who you are and doing things because you want to,” Levkoff says. That could mean sleeping with someone on the first date, the fifth date, or not at all.

I didn’t plan to end up marrying the first guy I slept with on a first date, but I did. And I’m pretty damn sure that initial hookup had absolutely no impact on our future relationship.

 

Talking About Your Relationship Too Much

It’s pretty much a given that you’re going to talk to your friends about some aspects of your relationship. How much detail you go into may vary, but the core fact is true: If you’re in a romantic relationship, you’re probably going to talk about it.

And you shouldn’t feel bad if you do this often! “Romantic relationships can be challenging to navigate, and sharing experiences, feelings, struggles, and difficulties with friends can provide important emotional and even practical support,” says Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy.D. Friends can provide a sounding board for your thoughts and feelings, as well as a different perspective, he says, making this a habit that can actually be good for your relationship.

But the problem is, your S.O. might not be as open to sharing personal details about your relationship and love life with people who aren’t directly involved in it—no matter how good your intentions. So, what’s OK and what’s not when it comes to talking about your relationship?

If your partner tells you something in confidence, and you share it with your friends, it’s understandable that it could cause some issues for your relationship down the road if you’re found out. There are also potential problems with trying to resolve a fight you had, via your friends. While it’s a completely understandable habit, licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago says you really should be figuring out how to resolve an argument between you and your S.O. with them. If you keep having conversations with your friends that you should be having with your partner, then you could be setting the relationship up for failure, he says.

 

And then there’s the whole boundaries thing. “Problems typically occur when boundaries are crossed or ambiguous, and when there is a lack of clarity about what is OK to discuss with friends and what is not,” Cilona says.

That raises an important point: Do you have to actually ask your S.O. if they feel comfortable with you talking about your relationship with your friends? You should, says Cilona. He recommends having a “clear and specific” talk about how comfortable each of you are with sharing certain kinds of information, especially more sensitive topics like sex and family issues. You can say something like, “I know we both go to our friends for help and advice when we have issues, but is there anything you don’t feel OK with me discussing?”
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Klow agrees. “One of the main areas on which couples disagree is how to handle interactions with other people,” he says. “Setting some ground rules about how you share relationship information with your friends can help.”

Here’s why that matters, per licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., author of Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Your partner likely interacts with your friends on some level and doesn’t want to be seen in a negative light by them (and really, you want your friends to see your partner in a good light, too). It’s up to you to protect your other half from chatting about any vulnerabilities or insecurities they may have, as well as paint a well-rounded picture of them. “An intimate relationship should be a private space in some ways, and there should be a confidence that you can share certain details in a safe way,” she says.

 

That said, it’s understandable that you’d want to vent to your friends if you have a big fight, and you don’t need to stop doing that. (Cilona says that’s “quite normal behavior.”)

Of course, it can be super-awkward if your S.O. tells you something or you have an argument, and you follow it with, “Is it OK to tell my friends?” So, after that initial chat, follow your gut. “If you have good instincts, you will know what is OK and what is not,” Durvasula says. “But when in doubt, ask.”

Simple Phrase Can Defuse A Relationship Crisis

My husband came home from work the other day, completely stressed out. After a five-minute rant about how nuts his day was, he paused and I said the simple phrase, “How can I help?” Almost instantly, he visibly relaxed, said he just wanted to talk, apologized for getting worked up, and grabbed a beer. Crisis solved.

Thing is, I knew the conversation would end that way. “How can I help?” has been my go-to relationship phrase ever since I first learned it at a startup I worked for a few years ago. The company had a bunch of “—isms” they wanted us to memorize that were designed to help us be better coworkers. These phrases were inescapable at this job: Not only did we get them in the employee handbook and were encouraged to use them when communicating with our coworkers, they were also plastered all over the walls of the office, so you could get your —ism fix while waiting for your coffee to brew in the kitchen, peed in the bathroom, etc..

While most were kind of cheeseball (hello, “respond with urgency”), I found myself using “how can I help?” often at work. Eventually it followed me home, and now, I use it whenever my husband is upset, sad, stressed out, or angry—and it works every damn time.

I love “how can I help?” so much that I’ve raved about it to friends, who also use it in their relationships. But why is this simple phrase so powerful?

Because it makes someone feel that you’re in a situation with them, explains Mark Reinecke, Ph.D., chief psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “People feel they need help when their usual ways of coping with whatever the problem may be in life are overmatched,” he says. “They feel overwhelmed, depressed, and helpless. Asking ‘how can I be of help?’…it leads the person to feel that they’re not alone.”

The way it’s worded is also crucial, since it’s inviting a blueprint for action, says Jocelyn Charnas, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. “Saying ‘can I help?’ is a yes or no question with potential to shut down the dialogue, but ‘how can I help?’ opens up communication,” she says.

It also doesn’t make the assumption that you know how to fix things, which can be annoying when all someone wants to do is vent. “You’re not saying you know how to fix this, you’re saying you want to understand,” Charnas says.

So, when’s the best time to whip out The Phrase? Charnas says it really can be used in any situation when you feel that your S.O. needs sympathy and love. Reinecke also points out that it’s not just limited to romantic relationships—this is a good one to use in friendships, too. “Any situation where a person feels overwhelmed, that’s a good time to use it,” he says.

While “how can I help?” can take the guesswork out of what you can actually do to make things better, I usually just hear something along the lines of, “I’m good, but thanks for listening.”

Should You Know 10 Signs This Relationship Won’t Last After Cuffing Season

Heads up: We are now entering cuffing season. While the idea that you’d start a relationship just because it’s cold out is kind of funny, it’s a legitimate phenomenon that has its basis in evolution. (Really, think about when your past relationships started or became more serious…)

But Jocelyn Charnas, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, says it’s not necessarily bad to start a new relationship because you want someone to cuddle with when the temperature drops—you’re human, after all.

“We enter into relationships for any number of reasons, regardless of the season,” she says. “Sometimes it’s because someone piques our interest, sometimes because we’re lonely, and sometimes because we’re trying someone on for size.” And right now, it’s because you want someone to cuddle with, since you so don’t feel like dressing up and bar-hopping when it’s cold out.

Licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago, says it’s probably not the best thing to start a cuffing-season relationship, because you can be fooled into thinking it’s better than it actually is—and pass on chances to get to know other people during that time. That said, it happens… .

With that in mind, here are the signs you’re totally being cuffed, plus why this relationship is definitely going to be over in the spring:

• You had the DTR talk the same day you pulled your skinny jeans out of the back of your drawer. Granted, your butt looks pretty damn good in them, but still.

• You met last week and you’re already sharing a snuggie.

• You’ve been casual friends since May and realized you were “meant for each other” the day temperatures dipped below 65.

• You went apple picking together.

• Your 3 a.m. booty call now shows up for post-brunch sex…and also brunch.

• There’s suddenly a lot of shit at your place that isn’t yours.

• You have a standing Gilmore Girls date.

• “I know we only met last month but you should totally come home with me for [any kind of family holiday]!”…said no one in the summer, ever.

• You already know who you’re going to kiss on New Year’s Eve, but you had no clue two weeks ago.

• You’re making spring break plans with zero intentions of including your S.O.

If you suspect that you’re in a relationship solely because of cuffing season—and you’re not OK with that—it’s a good idea to talk things over to see where your S.O. sees this going. But if you know the deal and you dig it, by all means…

 

Some Signs Your S.O.’s Friendship Has Crossed a Line

Part of a healthy relationship is respecting each other’s independence, including your friendships. But if a friendship of your partner’s—particularly one with another woman—seems suspicious to you, chances are that’s for a reason, says psychotherapist Barbara Neitlich, LCSW. But how do you know when your S.O. is just close with a friend and when they could be emotionally cheating?

Here are a few signs your S.O.’s friendship could be cause for concern.

1. They’re secretive.

If your partner’s not telling you a lot about what they do with their friend, doesn’t want you to hang out with both of them, or always seems to meet them in a private place, it’s possible they have something to hide, says Neitlich.

2. They compare you to their friend.

If your S.O. does this, says Neitlich, they might’ve thought about what dating their friend would be like. Comparing you to other women is also just generally not cool.

3. They always take their friend’s side.

If you’re unhappy with something your S.O.’s friend says or does, they should listen to you. Even if they don’t agree, it shouldn’t be a problem that you’ve brought it up. If your S.O. defends their friend at all costs, that could be a sign there’s something more than a friendship going on, says Neitlich.

4. They’re not confiding in you.

If your S.O. is getting more distant, not telling you about their life, or even saying they prefer to talk about things with their friend, it could mean that the emotional needs you would expect to meet are being met elsewhere.

If nothing feels wrong with your S.O.’s friendships, chances are you’ve got nothing to worry about. If something does, examine your own tendencies. Are you prone to jealousy, or is it this situation in particular that’s getting to you?

If things really do seem fishy, psychotherapist Marni Feuerman, LCSW, LMFT recommends saying something like, “I feel jealous/hurt/insecure about how much you interact with ______. I’m not comfortable with such frequent contact and I think it threatens our relationship.”

How they respond could tell you a lot about whether the friendship is actually a problem. If they get defensive, that’s another sign they’re hiding something. Even if there’s really nothing more than a friendship going on, your S.O. should be eager to reassure you of that, help you feel more comfortable, and make sure no other relationship gets in the way of the one between you two.