It can be a hard transition, moving from being single and independent, to being half of a couple. In my practice this week, I have seen 3 different couples who are struggling with just this issue, becoming a couple.
For the couples this week, the major challenge has been to decide what happens with relationships with former lovers. Many people today form close connections with those that they date. They often have a history together which usually precedes the current relationship. Sexual interest may no longer be present; however, the emotional connection with the former lover can feel threatening to the new partner.
When becoming a couple, making decisions together about how to shift loyalties (or in some cases, whether or not to even make that change) is often grounds for conflict. Those who are in the ongoing friendship may believe that it is harmless and innocent and often a very significant friendship. The other half of the new couple may be concerned that it will “blossom again” or he or she feels excluded and an outsider even if included in their activities.
In becoming a couple, it can be a struggle to determine how to build trust and reassure each other of commitment while, at the same time, not experiencing the losses of strong friendships.
This issue does become clearer with the stages of the couple relationship. When couples deepen their commitment from “seriously dating” to engaged to married, this decision becomes easier to make. One of the keys to success with this issue is to keep it from turning into a power struggle but to rather let it be the start of ongoing conversation.