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Is this a transitional relationship?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 24, 2010 09:19 AM

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I liked yesterday's discussion. Thanks for that.

Q: Hi everyone. I'm a longtime lurker, infrequent commenter, and have found myself with a question I'm unable to answer, so I figured it was time to put it out there to those with more experience. I'm in my early 40s and newly divorced after a 21-year marriage. I was shy and socially awkward in high school and college, and my ex-husband was really my only relationship, so I have a lot to learn.

After so long with one partner, I had decided that I was not going to date for a while, instead taking the time to figure out who I am "uncoupled," and what I want for myself (and my child) as I move forward through all this. However, in April I met someone through a friend of a friend and he and I started talking. Neither one of us was looking for anything from the other, especially since we live about an hour apart, but we found ourselves having a lot in common. We went from talking online every few days to phone calls to dating, in what has felt like a very natural progression.

So I guess my question is this: I've often read and heard that the transitional relationship is doomed. Is that always true? In spite of trying to go slowly and carefully, I'm really finding myself falling for this man. We enjoy each other's company, we're learning a lot from each other, and the um ... pajama parties ... are incredible. Because we came into this as friends first, we are really honest with each other, and he's not pushing me to go any faster than I am comfortable.

Am I worrying over nothing? Should I just shut up and enjoy this whatever-it-is and stop thinking about where it might lead? Why does it rattle me so much that we had our picture taken together this weekend? (Okay, so I guess I have more than just one question, but that one I asked first is the big one.)

– Nervous Nellie, Providence

A: That last question made me giggle, NN. Pictures mean there's evidence. Pictures mean that there will be something to stare at or burn if it doesn't work out. Pictures mean it's a thing.

As for the rest of your angst, I blame self-help books, television, catch phrases, etc. You probably heard a lot of silly, trendy dating terms and proclamations during your marriage, statements about men being from Mars, guys just not being into various women, friends with benefits, and rebound/transitional relationships.

Forget everything you heard. As it turns out, all relationships are different. We’re all from the same planet. Everyone is rebounding from something in life. Actions and words are both pretty important. And while timing is quite important, it isn't everything.

I don't know what you've got going on with this guy -- I can't define it for you -- but I do know that it sounds good and quite picture-worthy. And that's probably why you're freaking out. You suddenly have something to lose. That's sort of cool, right?

I know it's scary, but enjoy. What else can you do?

Readers? Can you help her with the concept of transitional relationships? Am I right that all relationships start as transitional relationships? Why did she freak about the picture? Is it bad that she didn't get her "uncoupled" time? Is this just fear of failure? Discuss.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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