Mountain biking, city strolls: his and hers.
If you have been following me on tumblr you know that for nearly a year, I have been experimenting with testing a new habit every month. In July I took a break from my one-habit-a-month quest: I went on vacation, saw family and friends, explored, reflected, relaxed.
Then August came before I knew it (I may have embraced the vacation mindset a little too much), and while I usually know what habit I will attempt to cultivate in advance, this time I fell behind. A week into August and I had only vague ideas about habits I might like to explore. I was struggling to find a habit to concentrate on, I lamented to my boyfriend. And I’d already missed a whole week!
Or, he reasoned: maybe I’m your August habit.
He was joking, but only half joking, and in many ways he was right.
Going from being single to being in a relationship necessarily impacts your life’s rituals and habits: you are simultaneously cultivating a new habit (building the foundation for a relationship; creating a shared space and life between you and another person,) and reevaluating all your current, existing habits at the same time. You have to be ready for the sort of change that comes with that.
This was particularly striking for me: fiercely (perhaps stubbornly) independent, I had until recently been actively dating, but not seriously so. (And documenting all of it.) I was even introduced by a friend as a “dating expert” at one point - and yes, I cringed at the title, too.
Somewhere in there I met my boyfriend, and in August I surprised myself by looking forward to the changes that being in a serious relationship had brought already, and those it would no doubt continue to bring going forward.
There were the little habits and rituals to consider: how often to see each other (& when); where to eat & what to eat; when to go to bed and where. And also the bigger things: beginning to think in two’s, investing in learning about the other’s hobbies and interests, sharing more of one’s time, energy, attention, and care with and for another person — these all became part of my daily rituals, too.
In the process, I evaluated my own quirks, tendencies, and zones of comfort, and how they fit in with with my SO’s: when you share more moments than not with someone, you see where your rhythm naturally overlays with theirs, where it does not, and where to adjust and meet them in between. In the process, you see which habits you want to keep (in my case, carving out creative time for illustrating and writing), which you will compromise happily over (your apartment or mine), which habits you want to newly cultivate because your SO’s habits are better than yours (exercising more, hydrating more), and quite naturally which habits you’d like to encourage in your SO, too (applying sunscreen daily, arriving at the airport unnecessarily early…etc.).
So in August, these were the habits I was testing, navigating, mulling over and thinking about. There was no single, particular habit to work on day by day, but an overall mind shift to cultivate instead: a general but active awareness of how to grow with and alongside someone else, not just myself. And that’s a habit I don’t plan on giving up any time soon.
For September, I’m returning to my regularly programmed habit experimenting. As part of that, I’m working on a little project called the Listening Project. It’s nebulous but promising — stay tuned.