“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."
~ Brené Brown
The story of the commitment-phobic man is so common it is a cliché. All too often I hear from female friends and clients that their man would be perfect… if only he would COMMIT to taking their relationship to the next level. And they wait. But for how long?
Here’s the thing—by waiting for men to come around even though women aren’t getting what they really want from them, men are learning what they can get away with. And they will continue to do the bare minimum to keep us around.
So how can you avoid wasting a big chunk of your life on a guy that’s never going to commit?
Here are six things that you can do right now to move your relationship forward:
1. From the start, tell him what you’re looking for
Be absolutely clear and make sure that he understands that you’re looking for a long term relationship, marriage and kids, whatever it is. Define it for him to ensure you’re on the same page.
It’s very important to make sure you’re in sync as early in your relationship as is comfortable. I generally weave this into the conversation by the second or third date.
2. Believe what you hear
If he’s already told you that he’s not interested in a long term commitment… at least not right now… accept this as true.
If you want something long term, you should be looking for a guy who wants the same thing. And if a man tells you he’s not ready for a commitment, be sure to take him at his word.
3. Watch his actions… they speak louder than words!
The same thing applies for what he’s telling you through his actions. If he’s mostly living life like a single guy, look at those actions as strong indicators that he’s is not into a relationship right now and may not be for a very long time, if ever.
4. Live your own life
By living your own life and pursuing your own interests, you will be more attractive to him. Really!
He’ll see that you have your own friends and activities, leaving room for him to have his as well. Strive for a healthy balance of time together and time apart. You may find the commitment “issues” magically work themselves out if he doesn’t feel he has to “give up” very much to be with you and make you happy.
5. Establish a reasonable timeframe and stick with it
While you should do this largely for yourself, your man should know your expectations of him and of your relationship.
This is certainly NOT about handing out an ultimatum! I’m simply advocating for open, honest, and clear communication about your wants and needs.
6. Trust that if it’s right, it WILL happen… even if you choose to walk away
He knows how to get in touch with you if he wants to and then you can decide for yourself if it’s for real or not. But it will be your choice and on your terms.
Here’s the bottom line: you shouldn’t waste your time or his. You two can be perfect for each other in many ways, but “timing is everything” plays a big factor here, too.
Deb Daufeldt, MA, MBA, NCC - www.newchaptersolutions.com
If you’re looking for an exact amount of time that you should wait to see if someone you’re dating will commit to a relationship, you’re going to be sorely disappointed by what even the experts have to say. However, if you’re looking for some thoughtful guidelines, read on.
These are ideas for you to consider as you turn inward and reflect on your particular situation.
#1. How long have you been dating?
If you’re head over heels after a month of dating and impatient for your partner to propose, you’re definitely rushing things a bit. Alternately, if you’re celebrating your second anniversary and nary a word has been said about exclusivity, the commitment conversation is long past due. Consider a Goldilocks’ point at which your time together is neither too long nor too short. Ideally, what you’re looking for is a period of time that let’s you get to know each other well enough so that it’s possible for both parties to decide whether or not to give commitment a shot.
#2. What kind of commitment are you looking for?
There’s a big difference between expecting a down-on-one-knee proposal and looking to date exclusively. Know exactly what you’re looking for. Commitment may mean one thing to you and another to your partner. The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to determine how much time is appropriate for it to happen.
#3. What is your partner’s history with commitment?
Knowing what’s happened in a partner’s previous relationships might help you gauge how long to wait. If it’s always taken your beloved a couple of years before deciding on commitment—which you know because you’ve asked and heard about how previous relationships started and ended—you can perhaps assume that it will take this long with you.
Some people take ages to decide on everything, romantic commitments included. If your partner says of earlier loves, “Oh, I knew within 2 months that this was going to be a serious relationship” and tends to make quick decisions, that’s quite another story.
#4. What are your hunches?
What you’re really looking for is to know your partner well enough that you can pretty much predict how the commitment discussion will go. Drop hints and see what happens. Share your own desire to be exclusive, engaged, married, or have a family and note your partner’s verbal and non-verbal reactions. Look to how the relationship has been going to get an idea of what a response might be, especially hints your partner might have dropped on the subject.
Listen to your gut, especially to anxieties you may feel about bringing up the commitment issue. If you’re very anxious, your partner is probably giving you good reason to be. Better yet, from the get-go, seek a partner who eagerly expresses interest in finding someone for the long-term and whose behavior backs that up 100%.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
It’s not uncommon for one partner to be ready for a long-term commitment before the other.
I think we all have a cousin or friend who’s spent three, four, five, or more years waiting for her boyfriend to be ready to propose or move in. Sometimes this has a happy ending and other times it ends in resentments, heart break, or rejection.
Lack of commitment quickly becomes a control issue in relationships. Pushing for more commitment doesn’t work. You can’t make your partner commitment (and if you could, that sounds like a recipe for disaster).
Settling for less than the level of commitment that you want, sends the message that you’ll just take what you can get; that you don’t think you’re worth a fully committed relationship.
Value yourself enough to ask for what you want.
Value yourself enough to choose a partner who wants to commit to you 100%. And value yourself enough to walk away if you’re not getting it.
Life is about living, not about waiting and relationships are about love, not about control.
You shouldn’t put your life on hold waiting for your partner to be ready for a long-term commitment. Relationships don’t have a pre-determined time table. The only right time table is the one that feels right to you.
Sharon Martin, LCSW – www.sharonmartincounseling.com
Commitment is a topic that brings a lot of couples into therapy. While it has a single definition, it holds infinite meanings.
For many women, commitment includes an emotional acknowledgment of a we, in that we are with each other and choosing to be part of the couple.
And on a practical level, the possibility then of planning for a future, even if it is just the weekend. A sense of continuity. For others, commitment is about living together or getting married and sharing a home life. And for still others, it is a child that expresses the commitment desired. But wherever we fall on the spectrum, when our partner cannot provide the commitment we want and need, we are left to live in a difficult limbo, in something we want, but that we want more of and from, and don’t know if we’ll ever get.
How do we ever know when to stay or leave?
There are no hard fast rules, ever. Each time we make the choice to stay or go it is unique, and sometimes we make it again and again within the same relationship.
At the most concrete level, we can always ask our partner if and when he will be willing to meet us at the level of commitment we desire. Sometimes the answer we get is comforting and gives us the sense that we are heading in the direction we want, but more often than not the answer is unsatisfying and we are left not knowing if what we want in the relationship will ever happen, usually because our partner doesn’t know. Living then with the uncertainty is anxious-making and painful, and can lead to insecurity and resentment.
What’s most important is that we own our own truth, which is our desire for more commitment.
We must stop judging and blaming ourselves for needing what we need. For years I have heard women condemn themselves for being too demanding or not being able to figure out how to be okay without what they fundamentally want. I have heard every rationalization in the book, why it makes sense for us to do without what we fundamentally want. In the context of relationship, there is nothing Buddhist about not being able to make plans for the future, or with someone who is not sure about us. Even if everything is impermanent in the absolute sense, we still need to create places of security in our relative lives, where the ground is solid or at least as solid as it can be.
We get certain things in relationship and give up others.
When we’re not getting the commitment we want, we must ask ourselves if the balance is workable, that is, Am I receiving enough to give up what I’m giving up?
We can only answer this question one moment at a time and the answer does change over time. We know we must leave when we can no longer tolerate or bear the situation we are living in, when the equation shifts and it’s too painful to do without what we really want. We leave when the unrealized desire for commitment sedimentizes into resentment, and we can no longer enjoy or appreciate what our partner offers.
No one can answer the question whether to stay or leave for us.
But when we stop judging ourselves for wanting what we want, and dive deep into our own truth, the answer is there.
Nancy Colier, LCSW, Author of 'The Power of Off' - www.nancycolier.com
Find out the direction your man wants to take with you.
Talk to him.
Get more information.
What is he saying he wants?
Do his actions match his words?
These are the things to look for to decide how long to stick around.
Tell him that you want to be in a committed relationship.
How does he respond?
Is he interested?
Is he fearful?
Bottom line is if you are ready to move things along and he is dragging his feet and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the tunnel then I would address this with him.
Let him know that you are looking for commitment and that’s OK to want.
Let him know that you want something out of a relationship and if he isn’t for it, then he isn’t your man and I wouldn’t stick around.
Find someone who wants to take the next step with you. Find someone who values you.
Stacey Steinmiller, LCSW – www.ascounseling.com
Wouldn’t it be so nice if there was a set time line for everything such as how long do I wait for a man to a commit?
So many things in life we seek answers and concrete information. With grief and divorce most people wish we could just follow a structured timeline and be done with the process. Unfortunately there is no set amount of time with any of these things.
In terms of waiting for a man to commit to you; only you know how long you are willing to wait.
If you know you want a serious commitment and you have known that from the beginning; it is important for you to share that. Usually after a few dates you either feel a connection or you don’t. If you continue to see each other I would assume both of you are interested in moving forward. As long as you know that you both have the same long term goals which may include: a monogamous relationship, perhaps marriage and/or children; there is no need to try and put a label on something that is very new.
Enjoy the newness of the relationship.
A conversation should come up when you decide to sleep with him, if you are not comfortable with him sleeping with anyone else. It is important to be honest and express your feelings. Let him know that if you enter into a sexual relationship; your expectation would be that it would be a monogamous relationship. If he is not okay with this; then you need to decide if this is a deal breaker for you. If he is on the same page; and you now feel you are in a monogamous relationship; then the relationship should progress naturally depending, on your age and stage of life.
For example if you are still in college I would assume there would not be a rush on moving into together or getting engaged. If you are in your thirties or older, this does not mean you need to move in together and get engaged within months. Usually when people are a little bit older and perhaps want children, the progression of the relationship may move a little bit more quickly. It certainly does not have to though. Every relationship is different and you need to do what is right for you.
Although there is no set time limit to wait to see if your partner will commit; if you do not see the relationship progressing at all after six months or a year, it is time to have a conversation with your partner.
Express what you would like to see happen with him in the future and ask him how he feels. If he knows he does not want to settle down anytime soon, or he knows he does not want to ever get married then it would be best for you to end the relationship. You need to be true to yourself and your needs. If marriage is not important to you and the relationship is great the way it is, then of course continue it and be happy!
Compromise is important but make sure you are not giving up things that are extremely important to you such as marriage and children, just because your partner may not want those things. If the relationship has to end, it will be painful and you will grieve. It would be my hope that after the grief a better match would come along for you!
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
A good basic rule is this: If the two of you have been together for six months or more, then six months more is a decent amount of time to give him.
Just make sure that YOU are sure he is the one, and that YOU are getting your needs met with this relationship.
If this is the case, and the only reason that things are not progressing is that he is waffling on committing to you - and that commitment could be either saying the "L" word, deciding you are going to be exclusive with each other, or something more definite than that - then six months is a reasonable amount of time.
If you DO give this kind of an ultimatum, though, make sure you are really willing to walk if he ends up not committing in the time allotted. Otherwise you are dooming yourself (and the relationship) to a weird sort of half-life - not really together in the way that you would like, and yet not really free to seek out other, more fulfilling relationships either.
So tell him, "You have six months, and then I am looking elsewhere." And see what happens...
Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT - www.kirstenlindseal.com
If a woman finds herself asking the question, the likelihood that she is feeling he is not going to commit is pretty high.
Therefore, the question may be perhaps, why he is not committing.
This may require initially some self reflection on her part, as to what she is observing in the interactions they share and how it is that he may not be committing. If the relationship has healthy communication, and the couple is able to actually communicate openly about commitment that is ideal, and although this sounds logical, not all couples communicate openly due to underlying motives of not wanting to tell the truth for one reason or another.
The length of time depends on the couple, the commitment level and what each couple is prepared and ready to do in order to make a commitment.
Some factors to consider, are recent divorce or separation, children, trauma or abuse from prior relationship(s), addiction related problems, sexual identity considerations, etc. Therefore, the length of time to wait varies from couple to couple.
If she really likes the man and wants to take it to the next level, the question is, what does the next level mean to her, and what is she seeking from him that can help her feel that it is "the next level."
The other aspect, is to consider realistically, if he is able to give her what she wants. Then communication is essential to avoid assumption, misinterpretations and expectations.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT - www.lcbahar.wix.com
When desiring commitment from another first ask yourself as a woman if you have committed to yourself.
Are you actualizing your potential?
Are you living out the life you had envisioned years ago?
If you have answered “yes” to committing to yourself and your life, then next you can examine the topic of commitment in your relationship.
The reason you must be able to answer “yes” to committing to yourself first is because your partner will find you more desirable and interesting.
Major problems arise when we feel as though we need someone.
It’s important not to become attached to a certain outcome.
When we can shift our mindset and thinking to seeing a relationship about the joining of lives, we can measure where we stand in our own relationship.
There are some benchmarks to look for to identify if your partner is showing you signs he will commit.
1. Have you met his friends?
2. Have you met his family?
3. Do you know his interests and passions?
4. When he has good news, are you one of the first to know?
5. Does he discuss plans with you?
6. Do you spend special occasions, holidays, and important events together?
The above are a few questions to answer to yourself to determine his commitment to you.
See, people communicate in many more ways than just words.
Are his actions and behavior showing you signs he cares for you and is willing to commit?
If you feel you’ve been together long enough and he has not showed signs of commitment, you have three choices.
1. You can have a conversation about your feelings for him and your hopes for the relationship. Be specific. What does commitment mean to you? Do you want to live together? Get engaged? Be married? Have children? Etc.
2. You can leave and move on.
3. You can stay and potentially not be happy.
Internally, women know.
We know on an instinctual level what to do.
Listen to your gut.
Time is the most precious value we have in life.
It’s something we can never get back or buy.
Trust your instincts on what to do.
Your commitment to yourself is most important.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
“The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.” -Steve Hall
If something is truly advantageous for us, our heart and brain are in congruence with each other; it feels right. But, what may feel right to you, may not be true of the other person you are involved with.
For example, you want a commitment… something to show the devotion you have for one another, but he does not want to take that step yet.
You may hear things like, what is the rush? We don’t need labels, or why do we need to define what we have?
All of these questions are excuses… excuses not to commit.
This is the rule, not the exception.
So, how long should you wait for him to commit?
The fact that you are asking yourself this question is a sign within itself that you have waited too long already. Follow your gut, you know what is too long and what is not.I urge you to do this simple, time effective exercise that will help you realize, and come to terms with the answer that you have had all along.
Get a sheet of paper, and fold it in half.
On one side write the question, what does commitment look like to me?
On the other side, write, How will not having a commitment impact me?
Just write, don’t think; let your hand do all of the work.When finished, and you are reviewing what you wrote, remember, relationships are supposed to add to our lives, not subtract from them.
If not having a commitment is negatively impacting you, then have a talk with the other person. NO potential relationship is worth destroying yourself for. You are your most prized possession, so trust yourself!
Robin Ennis, LMSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
When considering how long you need to wait for someone you are dating to be committed to you, you must first work to be objective and then follow your intuition. Consider what you are gaining from the relationship as it currently is vs. what you could possibly be losing. Sometimes, the wait is fruitful and other times the wait feels like wasted precious time. It’s important to get objective and assess what’s going on in yourself and your partner.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. What is working in the relationship the way it is?
2. What am I getting out of the relationship?
3. What exactly do I want for myself in my life?
Now ask yourself these questions about your partner:
1. Is my partner a person who has committed before?
2. What is my partner saying to me about committing?
3. Can I trust my partner?
You may not know the answers to many of or even all of these questions. That’s ok. Start by exploring within as honestly as possible and getting clear on the facts of the situation and what you need. More objectivity will help open your intuition to come through. We can’t be intuitive when we are subjective, caught up only in our emotions. The more objective we become about the situation, the more we can harness and use our emotion to aid our intuition. For instance, what would you tell your friend if she told you the same relationship story that is going on in your life? This question helps look at the situation with a different perspective, which already offers more objectivity.
Be clear with yourself on how long you intend to wait and what it is that you are waiting for – the man or the idea of what the man can be?
Remember that in general what you see is what you get. What is the risk/reward for you? If this person you are dating is wonderful and they have a beautiful heart and you are very rewarded with the relationship you have, it may be useful to wait, provided your partner eventually wants the same things as you. If you are unhappy with certain behaviors, negative at times about your mate and feeling resentful about having to wait, it may not be useful for you to stick around.
In addition to staying objective, be mindful of what emotions you are feeling.
Positive feelings breed more positive and negative feelings breed more negative. Choose what is best for your life and your needs. Of course, the risk/reward equation is important here because you may be ready right now for a relationship and don’t want to wait. Honor yourself and your needs. If the relationship is meant to be, it will happen. Don’t sell yourself short in the attempt to honor someone else’s needs – honor your own with the power and the courage to do what is right for you.
Dr. Lisa M. Templeton, Phd - www.interpersonalhealing.com
The time that you wait on him to make a commitment is really up to you. If it’s easy to put a deadline on the amount of time you spend in girlfriend mode, definitely go for it. Many women have made the decision to put a timeframe on when the guy they're dating should commit. Some have said “I’ll give him two years and if he can’t commit, I’m leaving.” It’s absolutely your choice on how long you’re willing to wait.
Here’s the thing, it’s more so about the actions he displays that tell you what you really need to know about his commitment level.
Here are a couple of behaviors to pay attention to:
Listen to the language he uses.
How does he introduce or describe you to others? Does he ever describe you as his future wife? Or are you still just his friend? Pay attention to what he says about you or about relationships in general. If he says things like he’ll never get married, that’s a definite red flag for you. Don’t think you can change his mind. You’ll only be frustrated when you realize the relationship isn’t heading to the commitment level you hoped for.
Notice how he treats you.
That says it all. Are you always last on his list? Does he see you late at night or during happy hour on the weekdays only? He may have trouble committing to you in the future if he can’t even really commit to the dating relationship and getting to know you.
Taking a relationship to the next level is serious business.
You don’t want to rush into commitment. You want to make sure the person you do commit to is worthy of you. That won’t necessarily be measured by time only, but also by how you’ve been treated and how he makes you feel. Know what you want, trust your gut and seek a mate who’s looking for something similar, earlier rather than later.
Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, Relationship Coach – www.thelifeandlovecoach.com
When we look at how long one should wait for their partner to commit, we must first define commitment. I believe commitment is when one is able to be fully physically and emotionally present for another. Commitment also assumes that each will be the top priority in each other’s lives. Whether it is marriage, moving in together, or just a relationship status, commitment implies that there is a singular dedication to another that has permanence.
Waiting for someone to commit can be a frustrating undertaking. One must ask themselves why the need for commitment is important. Is someone waiting for marriage? Is there a need for commitment to essentially “lock in” something that brings a sense of completeness for one of the partners? Maybe there is a deadline that an individual has for reasons only known to them. These, and other questions, need to be explored by the individual who is seeking the commitment so they can better understand their reasons for moving the relationship along at a certain pace.
Waiting for a commitment involves a number of factors.
· The quality of the relationship: Is this a relationship that is mutually satisfying? How is the communication and collaboration between each person? Seeking a commitment for commitment’s sake often overlooks the fundamentals that must be present for a relationship to have sustainability.
· The couple’s compatibility: Much like quality, compatibility is seeing and accepting each other for who they are, not who we want them to be. I often ask couple’s in session if they are in love with the person before them, or are they in love with the projection of who they want them to be. Compatibility means are shared affection for each other born out of transparency and authenticity.
· Attunement of listening skills: Simply put, if a person is delaying a commitment, is the other partner listening intently to the reasons for the delay? This requires suspending one’s need for the commitment to better understand their partner’s possible hesitation.
· Shared values and vision: A couple will be able to negotiate on the timing for commitment if they share similar values and vision. The timing may not be precise, but it will most likely be close because the couple can envision the same ultimate outcome.
As a final cautionary note, I must emphasize that no one should be forced or manipulated into a commitment. The relationship foundation would be built on coercion and one partner relinquishing their sense of personal agency. If a relationship begins in this way, the likelihood for resentment is high and the sustainability of the commitment is low.
Elizabeth Miller, LISW, LLC - www.elizabethmcounseling.com
Each relationship progress at a different rate, so there is no set answer for just how long you should wait for him to commit. Many factors come into play when making the decision to have the relationship talk or knowing when it’s time to move on.
Don’t rush into a relationship and don’t settle!
Many times we settle for someone good enough in fear of being alone or that we won’t be able to find something better. Take time to get to know the person, seeing whether your morals, values, and life paths align. There are different stages of a relationship, so it’s important to be patient and enjoy the process of getting to know another person.
In early dating many times we’re on our best behavior, so don’t rush the process because putting in time allows you to evaluate if the juice is worth the squeeze. There may be some warning signs along the way that you need to acknowledge before jumping into a relationship.
Ditch the timeline
We get into dangerous territory when we have a set timeline of when we think we need to make him commit. What if the relationship isn’t there yet? Setting a timeline can set up unrealistic and problematic expectations of how the relationship should progress. It can take you out of the moment of getting to know the person and also cause you to disregard important information you need to know about the person you’re dating.
Each step needs time to evolve before you decide to commit to a person. There should be open communication with the person you’re dating which helps guide you in the right direction and making sure you’re on the same page. If someone is not wanting to commit after a significant amount of time that in itself can be a warning sign that they may not be the right person for you. Stay aware and recognize when it may time for you to go your separate ways.
Trust your gut
If something feels off maybe it is. Evaluate your situation by talking it out with a trusted friend or writing a pro and con list.
Ask yourself “is this a person I can see myself being in a relationship with?”
“Am I being cared for, respected, understood, and considered?”
These are some questions you may want to ask yourself when deciding how long you should continue dating this person. It’s ok to leave a situation that’s not making you happy or adding to your life. When a person is a good fit, you know it because it feels right.
Make a choice
If you’re not happy with where the relationship is going you have the power to make the choice whether to leave or stay. Remember this because it can be a difficult decision to make, but your happiness and well-being starts from within and is shown through how you allow yourself to be treated in any relationship.
Shannon Behar, MFT – www.shannonbehar.com
Commitment shouldn’t be a place that you arrive at under some stressful timeline or rigid parameters.
Commitment should be a place you naturally arrive at because your relationship is building and you are experiencing great compatibility, chemistry, and so forth.
At a fundamental level, masculine are very different than feminine, the desire for / willingness to commit is a big difference.
That doesn’t mean great authentic men don’t desire to commit, they do, they just require a reason to. They won’t commit just because it’s the thing to do, or they seek security, as women often do. They will only commit when they feel it positively benefits and enhances their lives and let’s face it ladies, we should only commit then as well.
Every relationship is individual so there is really no cookie cutter answer to this question, no one guideline to put in place with time slots you can cross off that tell you how to move through your relationship.
It’s truly a unique journey for every partner but here are some important signs to look for
1. You are making forward progress. Your relationship should be moving forward, bonds getting deeper, mutual investment from each partner, things as simple as them thinking about you on your lunch hour and surprising you, or leaving their tooth brush at your place.
2. You should both desire to deepen your bonds of intimacy in all layers, not just the physical, the spiritual, emotional and mental realms as well. This should be occurring because you deeply enjoy exchanging with each other. This doesn’t mean there are never challenges in your relating, let’s face it, even the best relationships have challenges and overcoming them is what both teaches us and makes us stronger as a couple, but the foundation should be mutual compatibility.
The base should be a strong desire to relate.
If that’s there and you are making forward progress, than commitment should occur very naturally as a reflection of that. You may need to have the commitment talk eventually to take it to the next level, but that’s all good.
If these things are not happening, then also share your heart and feelings, giving the man you’re relating with a chance to step into that deeper love, but if it doesn’t move forward, it will be time to let that exchange go.
There’s no one set answer here, it’s not ‘after 6 months’, or ‘after a year’, it’s all about being in a healthy flow in YOUR unique relationship and following your heart. Commitment could happen in 6 weeks, or 2 years… either way as long as you’re developing and growing and deepening the bond the exchange is worth the investment, however long it takes.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor - www.ashleydavene.com
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