Some people in the dating world are content to have simultaneous or sequential short-term relationships.
They’re not ready to commit and aren’t concerned about when and how that might happen. The dating world is a smorgasbord of new experiences and they’re not ready to leave those adventures behind.
As time unfolds, those forays into intimacy can become tedious for many.
They’ve been with enough partners to know that a long-term, growing relationship is what they now want. Hopefully armed with a clearer understanding of the kind of person they are looking for and what they have to offer in return, they have realigned their focus from temporary excitement to permanent bonding. (See my article on Psychology Today Blogs, “Who are the Keepers?”)
Unless a woman is up against the decline of her child-bearing years, both genders are equally likely to fall in love with potential long-term partners who may not seem to be as in to the relationship as they are.
Those apparently less committed partners may be very happy to be in the relationship, content to share their availability, energy, interests, and physical intimacy, but they aren’t showing any signs of needing more. Nor have they declared interest in being claimed or claiming the other for the long-term. They may even openly shared that, though they are very okay with the relationship, they aren’t finished being single.
When that happens, it is all too often that the more-certain partner focuses on getting the other to make a decision to commit.
They may offer way more of their time and devotion that they could possibly sustain in the long run. Or they cease to ask anything of that partner, even when they should. Sometimes they tolerate behaviors that would never work were the relationship to work its way into the future, like not having connection for days at a time, or not sharing events that would be expected of a committed partner. They may even allow that sought-after partner to have the freedom to date others, or to have the rights to lift or lower them in priority at whim, hoping that, in some magical way, he or she will eventually realize what the relationship means to them.
Of course, it would have been so much better and easier that a couple talked early on about where each of them was in terms of relationship desires so that communication would already have been well established. (See my article on Psychology Today Blogs, “10 Important Questions you Should Ask a Potential partner.”)
Too often, new couples only want to show their best behaviors and are concerned about saying or doing anything that might push that other person away.
As a result they withhold what they want out of a relationship for fear the other will not feel the same and then not give the relationship a chance. Also, the intense lust and passion of most new relationships tend to mask underlying vulnerabilities and withheld information that will eventually emerge.
It is far more success oriented to ask yourself what commitment means to you and if you are ready to even ask the question.
Making sure you’re not driven by the need to be claimed or social pressure to find a permanent partner, you need to really look at your own readiness to shift from and “I” to a “we.” Long-term relationships are more than just a current commitment. They require a qualitatively different set of behaviors, feelings, and attitudes than sequential dating.
No one should be ready to take that leap without a deep knowledge of each other’s prior relationship histories, the people them come from, and what their dreams are for the future. Those deeper explorations into each person’s core should absolutely occur before either partner should look to the other to commit to the ongoing transformation of a permanent relationship.
In a recent article which I published on Psychology Today Blogs, I created a list of ten questions that both partners should be able to ask of themselves and of each other to find out if either is even ready for what a successful long-term relationship requires to really work.
I’m re-printing them here to help you explore your own motivations and readiness, before you try to talk to your current partner about his or her desire to commit to the relationship.
If you are happy with your own answers, then be authentic with your partner.
Tell him or her that you are becoming more and more certain that what you are experiencing in the relationship seems to meet all of your criteria for the kind of partnership you want to make permanent. Share that you are aware that he or she might not feel the same about you or about being ready to commit to a long-term relationship at this time, or might entertain that thought after more time together.
Make certain that your partner knows that you are not interested in obligation, patronization, or pretense.
You just want to make sure you’re both on the same path and if his or her freedom is still an issue, that you would never ask anyone to be somewhere that would not be right, but that you’ll now have to ascertain whether you still want to be in the relationship given that it is potentially temporary.
If the stars are aligned and your partner gives you what you so want to hear, then ask him or her to answer the same ten questions you have already explored. The way the two of you process that communication will help you both decide if you’re with the right partner.
Related articles on Psychology Today Blogs.
“Ten Questions to Help You Decide if You’re Ready to Commit?”
“How can romantic love transform into long-term intimacy?”
“When a partner gives more than you can.”
“When Should I have told you?”
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
How do you know if he is into you? And how into you is he?
Should you ask him straight up? Should you guess? Get a tarot card reading?
I would answer: If you don’t know where you stand in your relationship, then that is probably not a good sign.
When a man is into you – if you are “the one” – you will know.
This means that if you are not sure what your status is with him, then likely it is not too solid. And if you’ve been wondering after weeks and weeks, and maybe, months and months . . . even more so!
Basically what I am saying is, if you are wondering where you stand with your man, then your very unsureness is part of your answer.
A man will turn the world upside down to be with you if you are the one for him. He will cross the country, miss the big game, and throw his coat over a puddle for you to walk over.
You will see it in his eyes, you will hear it in his tone of voice, you will feel it in the touch of his hand, but most importantly, you will experience it by his actions. His feelings for you will be whispered into the background of every moment. If that’s not happening, take that in as data. As hard as that may be to contemplate, you need to consider it.
For a relationship to be strong, it needs to be authentic: not manufactured by a fantasy, or a wish, or an artificial timeline, but based on a truly genuine and real connection between the two of you.
Remember these 3 things as you navigate a new relationship.
If you remember these three points you won’t wonder what the state of your relationship is – it will become apparent. You will see it, feel it, and know it. Nor will you need to have “the talk” about exclusivity. You will have talked about everything under the sun already, including that. When your man loves you, he will profess it, he will tell his friends and family, he will shout it out to high heaven! Everyone will know that you are the one – including, and especially YOU.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Author of Opening to Meditation – www.dianalang.com
Timing is sometimes a difficulty in a relationship.
People have different paces as they move towards commitment and exclusivity. While there isn’t a right or a wrong pace, there is probably some kind of range of time that partners fall into. It becomes problematic if your pace and your partner’s pace differ to a large degree.
It’s the faster paced partner who has the problem.
She may get anxious and rush the slower paced partner. I think one of the ways to tell if you are either rushing (or stalling) is to look at your anxiety level about “the talk”. Somebody has to bring up the topic eventually, but if you feel anxious doing it, you may sense that you are moving too fast for your partner. Anxiety can make us want to rush the talk and seal the deal so to speak. This seldom goes well.
I think most of us can take the temperature of a relationship and pretty much know if it’s moving towards commitment.
If it is, it’s probably safe to bring up the topic. The feedback you get from your partner can help you understand how he sees things. Once the commitment issue is out in the open any anxiety drains away. You can check in with each other and talk about what you want for the future.
If after a reasonable time period, your partner avoids the issue, it’s probably safe to assume that he either isn’t that committed to you, he isn’t looking for commitment at this time, or he doesn’t ever want to be in a committed relationship.
While all of that information can be painful to some degree, it’s helpful to you to know whether you are building something together or if you will look back on this relationship as a waste of your time.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
One thing you are going to have to trust is your instinct about when it’s appropriate to have this type of talk.
Many women wait until the man brings it up. Some women don’t say anything and just make their own assumptions based on behavior. A lot of women are scared of pushing away a man by having this talk too early. Does any of that resonate with you?
If so, reviewing the do’s and don’ts of “having the talk” will help you to channel in your inner guidance and come up with a plan of action.
1. Do bring up the issue in a calm and confident manner
a. If you come across as needy and weak, your man is going to sense it and respond accordingly. You are the prize and you need to remember that. You are amazing and any guy would be lucky to make a commitment to you.
2. Don’t place a lot of expectations on it
a. But don’t place too many expectations on the one in front of you. You can have high expectations for the man you ultimately end up with but it is going to take some time to weed out men who are not serious about you or serious about having a relationship. If you jump in with two feet right away it doesn’t allow for things to unfold and develop as they should.
3. Do ask for what you want
a. If you have been seeing a guy for more than six months and you aren’t official and you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend, ask for it. Let him know what you want. If you have only been dating one month, it might be wise for you to give it a little longer to see how things go.
4. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve
a. If you really want to have a boyfriend, then have a boyfriend. If the man in front of you is not making you his girlfriend and you’ve hit most of the appropriate milestones, it’s time to reevaluate if this relationship is going to work for you.
5. Do hear about his point of view
a. If you do talk to him about it, listen to what he has to say and take it at face value. When a man wants for you to be his girlfriend, he will make you his girlfriend. It might take some time but there will be signs there for you to see that he is serious about you.
6. Don’t focus on only meeting your needs
a. If there are some needs he has in the relationship that you aren’t meeting, you may want to consider ways you can meet them. This is where open communication becomes paramount in a relationship. Couples work best when both partners are assessing each other’s needs and actively working on meeting them.
7. Do evaluate where you both stand in the relationship
a. If you have a light and breezy talk about this subject, gauge where he stands and take it at face value. If he tells you he doesn’t see you as a girlfriend yet, don’t think that means he absolutely sees you as a girlfriend in the future. Look to see if you are both on the same page today.
8. Don’t be passive-aggressive around this topic
a. Don’t make snide comments about “girlfriend” or drop hints about things. Be upfront with him and have a decision. The decision doesn’t need to be very serious but it does need to occur, especially if you find yourself being passive aggressive.
9. Do ask for clarification
a. If you talk about your status, ask for clarification about what things mean to him. He might say he doesn’t want to be boyfriend and girlfriend right now but that also might mean he wants to see other people. Or it might mean he wants to continue to only see you and see where things go. You deserve to have answer and clarity when it comes to relationships.
10. Don’t assume things
a. This goes along with what was written in the paragraph above. If he says one thing, you can’t assume things unless you ask about it and get clarity. Remember the old adage about assuming.
If you are with a guy who is on the same page as you are, then this talk might feel a little awkward but in the end everything will work out. If you are dreading having this talk or feel very anxious about it, you might need to look deeper into where you are at in the relationship and how things have progressed for answers.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com