I talk a lot about ambiguity in relationships, especially with emotionally unavailable men, yet I have mixed views about the Defining The Relationship talk for a number of reasons:
Actions speak louder than words. His words don’t mean jack if he doesn’t back it up with actions. Whether they’re a big damn liar that lack the balls to be honest, or they have bitten off more than they can chew, when someone tells you that you’re in a relationship but then fails to behave like they’re in one, it’s because you’re not.
If a relationship is going well and ticking the boxes for the hallmarks of a good new relationship, you shouldn’t need to have a heavy discussion to define things. If the relationship is going well, you’ll both be eager to declare yourself in a relationship without either of you having to pull teeth. Even if a conversation was had, it would be pleasant.
Often, we are capable of defining things for ourselves without him having to open his mouth. The problem is that many people fail to exercise judgment and when they do, they do nothing with the information or compute it as anything but what it actually is. Much like actions speaking louder than words, we’d have much greater relationship success if we exercised judgment, paid attention to red flags, and followed our guts. If you feel bad in your relationship, you really don’t need him to confirm that for you and likewise, shouldn’t you know when you feel good?
People often try to define things too soon or too late. The jump the gunners and the late starters both make a rod for their own backs. The former are so eager to define things that they don’t even give themselves a chance to get to know the person and determine whether they want what they’re trying to define. The latter goes along with things and inadvertently ends up setting the tone and then decides to close the door after the horse has bolted. What is the point in trying to define things after you have been more than happy to be in a flimsy, ambiguous, relationship for an extended period of time, where he has already figured out that he can do what he likes with you?
Defining the relationship sets boundaries and removes ambiguity but the very act of doing it means that you either end up with a positive result, or you put the cat amongst the pigeons if you get an undesired result. Trust me when I say that defining things isn’t that scary a thing if you have good foundations for your relationship. It’s when you have rocky foundations that things can get out of control. People also forget that ‘defining things’ isn’t just about saying ‘we are exclusive’ ; ‘you are my girlfriend/boyfriend’or ‘I love you’. It’s actually about being honest about where you are and your intentions. It’s the get out moment for both of you.
Because people fear confrontation, they can inadvertently end up making decisions for their partner that they have no business doing. People should be honest about whether they have kids, they are separated, divorcing, married, attached etc but often fail to be, which means that they remove the opportunity for the other party to decide if this is something that they want to be involved in.
Defining the relationship is about honesty and displaying a level of maturity that can often be absent with people that fear the attendant emotions and situations that come along with being with someone and having to share themselves. Remember that relationships can only progress and thrive when both parties have both feet in the relationship, so regardless of what discussions are had about your relationship, check that you both have your feet in first.