Last week I wrote about when you experience problems upgrading the level of commitment in your relationship and I wanted to follow up on and discuss a key question that you should ask before entering into any discussions: Have we been together long enough for me to be reasonably discomforted by the fact that what I’m looking for hasn’t happened yet?
If you want more commitment and they don’t, you have to gauge whether it’s because it’s too soon or because they’re commitment resistant.
When your ‘schedules’ are at odds, depending on the timeline, it may be that you’re exerting unnecessary pressure (impatience) which leads to you potentially appearing emotionally demanding.
Pace is subjective though which is why it’s good to have discussions about your perception of anything that’s very important before it becomes the white elephant in the room. If it’s unrealistic, it can be sanity checked against your partner.
If you expect anything like moving in, marriage, babies, buying a property (big ticket commitment items) in under a year timeframe, this must be communicated (not demanded, argued, wheedled, etc) to your partner.
Don’t assume that because you’re in love and want these things that they ‘should’ too. Also avoid the ‘I’m in my 30s/40s/50s/They’re in their 30s/40s/50s’ so they should know that this is what I want’ route – you’re not dating yourself and this is also lazy communication, i.e expecting them to pick up telepathically or via tension.
You need to get vulnerable and broach the subject or seize the opportunity when the subject arises to communicate your position while at the same time, listening to and understanding your partners position – empathy.
Avoid having these discussions off the back of negative situations because if the only time you ever talk about where your relationship is headed is through tension, it creates negative associations. I’d also keep the volume of discussions to a minimum – you find you talk about this stuff a lot when something is awry whether it’s communication or fundamental commitment issues.
Let’s take wanting to get married when your relationship is under a year old. You either need to assess the soundness of your expectation and/or be very open and upfront. While you run the risk that your expectations may be too much, you can’t have it both ways. Which is better – Being upfront or simmering with expectation and eventually resentment because it hasn’t materialised?
If you both ultimately want the same thing, find a solution that you can both live with – compromise. Discuss each others perspective and see how you can synchronise your schedules. They may have ideas about where they need to be at or things that need to be sorted out in their own life in the meantime – find out where they’re coming from.
If something’s that important that you can’t risk letting your relationship develop enough to let conversations arise naturally and as a part of the progression, the onus is on you to raise your head above the parapet and speak up.
If frustration, anxiety and tension are likely to arise within the relationship, they have a right to know your expectations otherwise you’re potentially setting them up to fail a test they didn’t know they were taking.
Sanity check your expectations by having an honest conversation with yourself:
What are my expectations based on – this relationship or the prescribed relationship that I see myself in regardless of who it is? If it’s the latter, you’re treading on dangerous ground because you’ll end up communicating to your partner that you want this commitment regardless of the quality of relationship and who you’re with.
Is this schedule a joint agenda or am I pushing my own? If it’s yours, you’re not looking at the needs of the relationship; you’re focused on your needs, which is fine for understanding your position and values, but not so good if you’re not considering your partner or assuming what makes you happy will make them happy will make make the relationship happy.
Am I trying to get them to make me the exception to their rule of behaviour? If they’ve communicated that they don’t want what you’re looking for or you’ve been in several relationships with similar types of people pushing for similar things, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Again.
What do I think this commitment is going to tell me about my relationship or me? You get a real sense of where you’re at and what your view of commitment and healthy relationships looks like. If you’re trying to assuage insecurity with commitment, you’re starting a painful slide down a slippery slope
It’s best to upgrade your level of commitment with a view to enhancing an already great relationship – don’t upgrade commitment in an attempt to make a shit relationship better – it’s like trying to use a hammer where you should be using a drill.
Prior to seeking this commitment, can I honestly say that I’m in a mutually fulfilling healthy relationship with love, care, trust, and respect in it? Use these questions if there is any doubt and if you’re not, I suggest you focus on addressing the concerns in your relationship first. If this is a casual relationship, I’d save your breath and move on.
Is it the right time? If you’re going to broach the subject of commitment or even imply that something should be happening by now, make sure that someone hasn’t just died or they haven’t lost their job.
Have I already broached the subject? I don’t mean hinting, I mean an actual open discussion. If you have, what didn’t you get from that conversation? Whatever that is, it’s what you need to achieve in the next conversation otherwise these are redundant discussions.
If you’ve discussed this subject numerous times, you likely have your answer, you just don’t want to accept it whether it’s because they’ve made it clear it’s not happening, they’ve become difficult in each discussion, or they’ve said when they see things happening and you don’t agree with it. Have you put your cards on the table?
The danger is that we can become very focused on our ‘investment’ and it starts to feel like we’ve put in too much time and energy to walk away, but I don’t suggest that you flog that proverbial donkey until it collapses by discussing the crappola out of commitment.
Know your limit and know your comfort levels and acknowledge if it wouldn’t work for you to be in this relationship beyond a certain time without a certain level of commitment – there is nothing wrong with this. Your needs are valid. You can communicate this to them but I’d avoid making it an ultimatum, especially if you’ve made them before…and not followed through.
If your relationship has been going on for more than a couple of years or they’ve actually stated that certain things would happen, that’s not impatience – it’s wanting to know where you stand.
If you’re making decisions about other aspects of your life such as buying a home or moving away and you don’t feel you can make those decisions comfortably without them/knowing ‘what’s next’, calmly explain your position (or resolve to put these plans on hold until you feel your relationship has enough in it if it’s still relatively new) and see where they’re at. You may be afraid of what their answer may be, but it’s better to know. If they say go ahead, do so. It doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the relationship but it is telling you that they’re not ready to make that commitment which tells you where you’re really at.
If knowing where they’re at changes how you feel, it’s understandable but it allows you to move on with your life. If you’re in a mutually fulfilling relationship, it should be a mutual upgrade. Anything else has that horse to water feel.