- in Commitment
“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you're feeling. To have the hard conversations."
~ Brené Brown
Everyone knows that communication is key in relationships, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that having “the talk” with your man is anxiety provoking.
First step is to identify the anxiety.
What is the anxiety about?
Fear of rejection
Fear of being seen as needy
Fear of being alone
Fear of being unlovable
Fear of being not good enough
These are all variations on the same tune, but it's still important to identify the underlying fears so that you can calm them.
Step two is to calm the fear.
The problem that many women get into is that they look to their partners for reassurance rather than themselves. When you look to your partner for your reassurance on your self-worth, your anxiety will basically vomit onto your partner which may lead to having a not so good conversation. By dealing with your anxiety prior to the conversation you’re not longer spewing your fear, but actually having a conversation.
How do I calm the fear?
Tell yourself you can handle the worst. Even if you don’t believe yourself, tell yourself you can handle it. Use affirmations. You are good enough, it’s OK to have needs, you can handle rejection, etc. It will hurt, it won’t be pretty, but it won’t break you either. Say these things on repeat. Also do some relaxation and engage in activities that make you feel good.
Step 3- Know what you really want and set your boundaries.
It’s important to be clear about your expectations and needs in the relationship. If your man says, “I don’t really believe in marriage, what do you think about just living together and having kids?” You need to know where you stand on that issue. If you’re not OK with that it’s important to say that, “I’m not OK with that. I want to be married.”
Step 4 - Don’t get insulted
It’s important to not feel insulted if your man presents ideas as to why he doesn’t want to or is afraid to commit. Don’t respond with your fear, “What, am I not good enough?” “Why don’t you want to marry ME?!” This is why it’s extremely important for step one and two to be addressed before the talk so that you’re not distracted by your fear.
Becoming insulted will only derail the conversation. Instead hear what your man has to say and go back to step 3 and focus on communicating your needs and desires in the future relationship.
Good luck and happy talking!
Stacey Steinmiller, LCSW – www.ascounseling.com
If you want to be with him exclusively and are feeling uncomfortable or frustrated or resentful or angry because he hasn’t let you know he feels the same, it’s time to have the talk.
It will be difficult to relax and enjoy each other if you feel this way.
There is only one way to have this talk and be calm and confident.
Timing is important.
A relaxed atmosphere is best. This isn’t an ultimatum. It needn’t be heavy. You don’t want to push him away. It’s necessary that you think this through before you approach him.
Can you anticipate possible reactions from him and how you can best respond to them?
You let him know what you want, what you’re looking for. You understand that he may not want the same thing, but you don’t want to waste your time or his.
Let him know you want a committed relationship and what that means to you.
Perhaps ask him if he sees himself with you in that way; and give yourself (not him) a deadline, one based on how long you’re willing to stay in an uncommitted relationship. Do not bring the issue up in the meantime. If he is not able or willing to commit himself to you by then, don’t try to convince him or change his mind. Respect where he is, but don’t waste your time.
You deserve and need someone who loves you, someone who wants the kind of relationship that you do.
Do not date one man exclusively if he hasn’t made a commitment to you. You may believe you love him, that you need him, and that he is your “soul mate,” the only one. Don’t make him the center of your life. Don’t close yourself off from the possibility of a long-term successful relationship based on honesty and mutual respect.
Dr. Mary Ella Viehe, PhD, LMFT - www.makingloveinmarriage.com
It’s natural to be nervous before talking to your special someone about commitment. You wonder how the talk will go and what to tell your friends and family about it.
Things will go a great deal easier and you’ll feel better whatever the outcome if you follow these tips:
#1. Know what commitment means to you
Be sure you know what you want and are asking for. Commitment might mean many things, including marriage, engagement, living together, or dating exclusively. Get your objective clear in your own head. Moreover, know your bottom line. If you’re ready to get married and your beau suggests living together, consider whether this would be acceptable or not and why.
#2. Be clear about what you want
Write down a short sentence of what you want to say ahead of time and practice saying it in front of a mirror. Maybe it’s, “We’ve been dating for six months and it’s been wonderful. I’d love to start dating exclusively.” Or, “I think our living together has been a fabulous success and feel ready to get married.” Avoid hemming and hawing about what you want so that you sound as if you have no idea or are unsure.
#3. Timing is everything
Find a time to talk when you’re both relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. Sharing your feelings in a restaurant is fine, as long as it’s a quiet place and the people at the next table aren’t practically sitting in your lap.
And you don’t want to be yelling over loud music or the din of a crowd. You might wish to express your expectations after you’ve had a great day sailing, skiing, working on a project together, or just cooling your jets at home. Speaking of timing, make sure you don’t get pushed into this talk by interfering friends or family members. Wait until you are ready.
#4. Ask questions
A major mistake people make in discussions is getting defensive and repeating statements, such as, “But you promised” or “Well, I guess you don’t love me as much as you said you do.” You might think that the other person doesn’t understand, but, unless there are major language barriers, your potential partner probably understands just fine. Far better to ask questions, albeit without sounding like you’re part of the Inquisition. Start by using words like, “I’m curious” or “I wonder if you could tell me.”
#5. Keep pre-discussion sharing to a minimum
You’re going to feel worse if you’ve told the immediate world and then some that you’re about to have your “commitment talk.” Sure, tell one or two close intimates so you’ll have support afterward if you need it. And make sure to say that you might want to check in with them after the talk in case you’re disappointed or upset.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
It is so exciting when you’re dating someone and you realize you really like him; or you may actually LOVE him. This is usually when the woman starts to feel some anxiety; having thoughts racing around in her head. “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?” I don’t want to say “I love you first.” Is it too soon to have “the talk?”
Before you start actually dating it is nice to ask each other what they are looking for in terms of a relationship.
I think if you choose a guy who wants the same things in life as you do; then the talk will be much easier. Maybe he will even initiate it! Unfortunately there is no set time that you should have this usually dreaded talk. You may be dating a month, 6 months or a year. Every relationship is different so what’s right for you may not be for someone else.
Prior to the talk it may be good to discuss the possibility of sleeping with others.
Many relationships start out casual; people dating different people at the same time. Eventually feelings develop with one or both of them. I am sure it is easy to tell that you are spending all your time together: and it t doesn’t seem possible that he would still be casually dating. At the same time, if you think he is still with other people and you are not because you are ready for a commitment; then you need to talk to him about this as soon as possible. If he doesn’t feel the same way; it will be disappointing for you; but this clearly was not the right person for you. It’s time to get back out there and keep looking!
Be calm when you decide to have the “talk”.
Don’t bring this up during an argument or a stressful situation. Think of where you will both feel most comfortable: and decide on a location. After all this, it is time to open up and be vulnerable, which is usually pretty scary for people. Let him know how you feel and then give him some time to process it.
If he doesn’t respond immediately with everything you wanted to hear; it does not mean that he doesn’t want to be with you.
He may need time to sort out his own thoughts and feelings and time to process all the information he was given. After he is able to respond; if he feels the same way you will feel more secure in the relationship. If he does not feel the same way; don’t let this bring you down or start criticizing and blaming yourself.
You may need some time to grieve the loss of this “relationship” although it probably wasn’t long; your feelings are valid and if you pictured a life with him, there will be a grieving period.
Do things for yourself that make you feel good, such as exercise, get your nails done, and call a friend. Usually you can tell when feelings are reciprocated; so most likely the talk should go just fine. Some people are blindsided hearing the man doesn’t want the same things, even though he seemed so genuine. All in all when you are with “the one” then “the talk” will be great!
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
― Peter F. Drucker
When it comes time to talk to your man about that status of your relationship, you want to come from a place of peacefulness and confidence. This can be quite challenging if you don’t feel on equal footing with the man in your life. Having a high sense of self-esteem can give you the confidence that makes this conversation less daunting.
First of all, it’s important that you acknowledge that you have certain rights in your relationship for you to be able to express what you’d like to say to your partner.
Some of these rights include the ability to make decisions about your own life, dreams and priorities. You can have your own opinions and values without needing to make excuses for them and you have the right to say “no” and tell others how to treat you. You, also, have the right to make changes in your relationships in order to make them happy and successful.
Below are some helpful ways of communicating with your man in a manner that facilitates his hearing you:
Feeling confident and strong inside gives you the ability to be vulnerable about your relationship.
When you want to have a conversation about where your relationship stands, you want to be very honest and direct about how you feel and think. Approach the conversation from a mindset of openness and new opportunities rather than from judgments and blame. Your quest for a more intimate and committed relationship needs to be stronger than your fears of feeling that this talk will push him away.
Be mindful of how you come across to your man when you talk to him.
You want to encourage vulnerability in him rather than defensiveness where he feels attacked. Don’t interrogate him in an aggressive manner, check your tone of voice as this can betray the feelings you’re trying o express no matter what words you use.
For example, don’t use “you” statements, such as “You never…” or “You always….” Don’t tell them what to do, such as, “I need for you to… “and don’t interrupt him. These do not promote trust in the relationship. These only serve to make him feel that he’s not good enough for you. They emasculate him.
When you begin the commitment conversation, tell him what you like about your relationship and how important he is to you.
Tell him that you’d like to discuss some areas of concern to promote a better understanding of your relationship for both of you. Then ask him if he’d be willing to talk to you. In this way, it becomes a win-win situation for both of you to grow together. Remember to maintain eye contact and speak from your heart using “I feel” statements.
Tell him how you feel about the relationship and want to know if he feels the same.
For example, “I feel great being with you but I’d like to be more than your girlfriend. I’d like to be together with you forever. What do you think?” “What do you see happening for our relationship going forward?” “I would like to feel more connected to you.” “Do you see us being together forever?” “Do you see us getting married at some point? What do you think?”
Don’t make him wrong.
Keep it neutral. You just want him to be honest so you can move forward with your life. Cornel West said that “we have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”
You owe it to yourself to know the intentions of the one you are devoting yourself to in order to be happy in your life choices.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.drjoannewendt.com
Let’s say things are getting serious with your special someone and you feel deeply ready to take your commitment to the next level. The question is what is the best way to share your desire with that person?
The answer is, from your heart.
Commitment in general is a place that a couple should arrive at because of great relating and a deep bond of intimacy, etc. It should not be a be all end all goal line to reach with heavy pressure and time limits. When we are in that type of energy we tend to block the flow of intimacy as well as the masculine’s desire to commit, as the male nature is all about feeling free. Now, this doesn’t mean men don’t desire to commit, many mature men actually do they just want it to feel natural and fluid. With that in mind, approach the talk as such.
Be relaxed, speak from your heart, share how deeply you feel about this person, why you love them, how you feel you can enhance each other lives, and how you essentially arrived at this place of hoping to share your life more fully and transparently with them.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in the process, great authentic mature men who are ready to commit, are attracted to your ability to be real and honest and to speak your truth with confidence.
Confidence doesn’t mean knowing the outcome will turn in your favor, confidence means being ok with any outcome because you are secure in who you are.
When you have the sense of security, it is often accompanied by a natural calm, an ease, you can relax because you’ve learned to love deeply with an open heart and also accept and trust loves outcome. This energy is also extremely attractive to men as it shows them that you are a whole woman ready to engage in a healthy loving relationship. That you are clear about what you desire, and you are not trying to play games.
If you never speak your truth, you never open yourself to receive it, in this case, the great fulfilling committed relationship.
Don’t be afraid to speak your truths, and if you do it authentically, from the heart, the right person will step into that next level of commitment with you. Regardless of the outcome know that every time you open your heart and love you are better for it.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor - www.ashleydavene.com
It is important to establish the boundaries and expectations during the talk, as this is part of the process of establishing the parameters of relationship.
Honesty is the best policy.
Be direct and talk about it. If you are fine with keeping it casual and loose then maybe the talk is not as important to you as it might be for someone else. If exclusivity is important to you then it is important to say it. Don’t expect him to read your mind or pick up on hints. Men and women communicate differently and this is something that is important to communicate clearly about.
Think about how you want to bring up the subject and where.
Be mindful that it is not in a public place or setting. Keep the talk private and do not try and talk about it when there is something else distracting from the conversation. Do not post your business on social media until you have the talk and it is something that you agree on. When you have the talk, it is important to address how you will tell others and how much you will share about your relationship, especially on social media with family and friends.
Remember to take it slow and enjoy the courtship phase of your relationship.
Do not rush the talk if either of you is not ready. Be mindful of where you are both at in your lives and how the relationship evolves. Be honest from the beginning and do not tolerate dishonesty from him in any way, shape or form from the start. The things you compromise at the start will set the tone of the relationship.
Be mindful that you are not attached to the outcome of the talk. Let it flow naturally and hear him out. His needs are just as important as yours in moving forward with the relationship. If he is not ready, do not pressure him.. Appreciate his honesty if he is able to tell you he is not ready.
Before you have the talk, make a list of things that are important for you in the relationship.
Be clear about your expectations and deal breakers. The talk doesn’t have to be heavy. You can say that you are interested in moving to the next level in the relationship and ask him if he is interested in the same. If he is, then you can discuss what that looks like for you both.
Remember not to assume that he knows what you are thinking. Check in as you move forward and talk things out as they come up. Don’t avoid talking about things that bother you and expect those things to change. Hold each other accountable from the beginning.
If you need support, see a couple´s therapist and talk it out.
Work through any anxiety you have about having the talk and get the support you need to establish and maintain your boundaries. A therapist can help you process any anxiety or fear that you are carrying over from previous relationships. A therapist can also help you identify the issues that keep repeating in your life and help you work on strategies to change those patterns.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
Part of creating effective communication is not assuming that you both give the same meaning to a word.
There are words within the English language where the definition can be quite ambiguous. During a discussion the interpretation can be slightly different than intended, especially when perhaps anxiety or apprehension is present.
Words like ‘serious’, ‘commitment’, even ‘love’ can have different connotations.
Instead of using words that could be misunderstood, it helps to elaborate so the other person has an exact understanding on what you are saying.
The potential outcome of asking ‘are we serious?’ can be completely different if you think ‘serious’ means being exclusive and not seeing other people, yet to him it might mean moving in together.
Explaining what you mean can help eliminate confusion.
“I don’t want to see anyone else, do you feel the same?” or “ I want to see you everyday, is living together something we want to discuss?”.
Reading into words doesn’t help either. If he says the relationship is going good, your first thought might be to think “why didn’t he say great… why only just good”, but really he could be using good as a labeling word (good versus bad) as opposed to a describing word (like only satisfactory).
Assumptions need to be challenged by asking for more clarity instead.
If he states, “we are moving fast”, that really could mean a number of things. It could mean; ‘I am scared’, ‘I didn’t expect to feel this way so soon’, ‘things are changing too quickly’, ‘I’m not ready to be in a relationship?’, ‘I don’t feel in control’, or ‘I miss hanging with my mates on Friday nights’. The only way to know is to ask.
In order to be precise with your words, you need to be conscious of what your opinion, expectations, wants, needs, and feelings are.
When you acknowledge they exist, you are then in a better position to talk about them.
It is easier to connect with someone if you connect with what they are saying not what you think they are implying and vice versa.
Belinda Noyes, Mindfulness Expert – www.theinnerpractice.co.nz
You’ve been dating someone for a few months and you feel it progressing to get to the next level, but you haven’t had “the talk” yet. What can you do?
Men and women experience things differently and it’s important to remember that men can be just as nervous as women to have this talk. Societal pressure plays a role in the expectation that the man needs to be the first one to bring up this nerve-wracking but exciting conversation. This isn’t the case in every relationship and doesn’t mean that the man in uninterested in taking things further.
This talk can bring up many fears, worries, and doubts; however, taking a step back to gain some perspective on the situation can be helpful. Often times because of outside influences like social media, we compare ourselves to others which can lead to disappointment.
Look for the Signs
Take a look at the patterns in your dating relationship with this person thus far to see what signs he may have already given you.
Have you met any significant people in each other’s lives?
How often do you spend time together or talk?
Have you discussed what you are looking for in a relationship?
If so, that’s a great place to start. If you haven’t yet experienced some of these moments, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a make or break situation. The difficult part of dating is that each person is unique and may move at a different pace.
Asking for What You Want and Need.
Keep it simple. Once you’ve realized you’re ready to have “the talk”, enter with confidence. Use your past experiences to help illustrate why you’d like to take it to the next level. Sharing and communicating what you want and need is a must or else resentment can build. This interaction allows you to gauge and assess whether this person is someone worth moving forward with. You can use the questions above as talking points when having the conversation. Your openness will create a forum for an honest conversation that allows him to respond.
Use “I” statements to share your experiences and your emotions around them.
When having the conversation try to ensure it doesn’t turn into an ultimatum, especially if this the first time you’re discussing this. Ultimatums tend not to go well and can make another person feel defensive, frustrated, and caught off guard.
Having this conversation is you taking a risk. It’s you putting yourself out there, being vulnerable and expressing your wants and need (good for you!) Taking healthy risks are important for self-growth even if the risk doesn’t go as planned. Don’t forget to take some deep breaths and tell yourself that even if you didn’t get what you wanted out of the conversation, you stood your ground and demonstrated your value and self-worth.
Shannon Behar, MFT – www.shannonbehar.com
1. Focus on your needs
It is important that you advocate for yourself rather than have the focus be on “what does he think,” “how do I not scare him away?” Come prepared with the awareness of where you think the relationship currently stands and where you want it to go. Then express that in a clear, direct manner.
The key is to find the balance between being assertive for your own needs and respectful of the other person’s needs. You can’t have that unless you first have clarity about your feelings, wants, and needs. Follow the next steps to help with respecting the other person and not being pushy.
2. Avoid assumptions
We are not mind readers and cannot know what is going through someone else’s mind. Don’t assume that you know what your partner is thinking and how they see the relationship and its status. Don’t assume how they will respond to the various things you say. Additionally, trust what the response is.
Sometimes we are so caught up in what we think the other person is thinking that we don’t actually hear what they say or, even if we do, we don’t trust in it. Overall, going in with assumptions puts you automatically on the defense, which inhibits your ability to have a productive conversation.
3. Think about the presentation
Stay calm and relaxed and think about what you want to say. Think about how to get your point across in way that your partner can hear. Generally, this means presenting your thoughts in a way that does not feel like an attack to the other person. “I” statements and avoiding assumptions help with this. This is a way to respect both of your needs and allows for the other person to feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts.
4. Be open to the thoughts, feelings, and needs of your partner.
Remember that it is ok if you are not on the same exact page. The bottom line is to be open about your needs and give your partner room to express his needs. Then you can evaluate if this relationship is worth it for you to continue investing in.
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
Few people really initiate the topic of commitment.
Some avoid it like the plague, while others may force it out of fear of said avoidance. Ideally, as humans who can honor and respect our need for security and connection allowing such conversations openly and freely. We could simply address our partners with compassion for ourselves and the other party involved. This requires gentle observation known as ‘witnessing’ to acknowledge any parts of you that may be scared and uncomfortable, while also recognizing that you are not unique in this experience.
Many individuals struggle with such vulnerability and depending on your attachment style, you may find yourself with greater levels of fear or worse, detachment.
All of these may have helped protect yourself in some way growing up, but will eventually keep you from being the open and loving person you are capable of and intended to be. It would behoove you to notice this, but not let it determine your future. You have the capacity to love hugely when you are not overly identified with any of those protective parts.
In order to share honestly and lovingly without being overly concerned with possible rejection, you’ll want to be sure you are first accepting yourself.
It’s much less devastating to take the risk of being seen by others, including loved ones and potential mates, when we are committed to not abandoning ourselves regardless of outcomes and risks associated with opening up to share your true thoughts and feelings.
In preparing to communicate with your partner, it is important that you are forthcoming about your true feelings.
This offers you a much greater chance of reaching a desired partnership. Your honesty invites more honesty and reduces the risk of someone else being defensive with you. However, there are no guarantees in life or love. There is always the possibility that he’ll be uncomfortable or deny his own fear and vulnerability. Should this be the case, it is not necessarily about you. It’s important to stay calm and not react or take this personally.
Relationships are vehicles for healing.
We either grow together or apart, so communication followed by listening and negotiation are important for getting your needs met and meeting your partner’s. If your significant other is struggling with commitment and/or not bringing it up as soon as you’d like, you will want to be gentle and empathetic to potential causes for that including the past and early, formative relationships. Keep in mind we seek relationships to become whole, meaning we want to be seen for both our strengths and weaknesses.
Creating a safe space for these conversations means showing up open to hearing the other’s experience without harsh judgment and also noticing what such discussions might stir up in you.
Whether the final agreement is to proceed in commitment or not, the information provided will all be a gift in either bringing you closer together or helping you see what areas may still be tender and deserve your attention and gentle care.
Alanya (Lanie) Smith, MPS, ATR - www.theheartmattersretreat.com
So you’ve been seeing a man on a casual basis, and you decide that you really like him.
In today’s crazy dating world, the commitment talk wins the “most-abhorred” award for many women.
Something about it just lights up our insecurities. Especially when one considers internet dating-- we have three hundred options available at the touch of our fingertips, our future landing on the shoulders of whether we swipe left or right.
These days, daters are expendable. At least, that’s what modern dating might have you thinking.
This poses a problematic question, whether conscious or not, in the minds of those daters who are considering having “the talk” with someone they like:
Am I worth it?
Will he want me, or am I expendable?
Fortunately, a mindful approach and an open-hearted attitude can really help you check your fears at the door and maximize your conscious communication with your self so that you can speak to that special someone.
First and foremost, check in with your own sense of self-value.
Do you feel expendable, or do you feel like you are worth the commitment?
Are you comparing yourself to other people, letting your fears get the better of you and keeping you from experiencing a true, open connection?
Secondly, (and no matter what), you need to prepare yourself to get vulnerable.
Many people avoid vulnerability, but its time that we adults grow up and get off the playground. Modern daters in large part demonstrate what I like to call the “pretend-we-don’t-care syndrome”.
Be careful, you might actually *gasp* share how you feel about someone! Insecurity may rage over the very real possibility that he may not be interested in you in the long term, and rejection hurts, badly. But what hurts more is stuffing your own voice and leading yourself on for someone who isn’t right for you.
The third helpful pointer is to understand ahead of time what you will and will not consent to, after you have had “the talk”.
Will you walk away if he says that he’s in it just for fun? Will you give him time if he needs it (because he is a human too)? All of these questions will be highly dependent on your own unique situation.
Which brings me to my last conscious pointer: to honor your own gut instinct.
If there are any red flags you have been trying to deny, now is the time to acknowledge these.
Plus, there is the issue of safety. If you are sexually involved with someone, many women feel that speaking about committing to one sexual partner is a practical and easy way to open up the floodgates of communication.
In the end, be gentle with yourself.
If he’s not ready for commitment, it doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t be the right person for you. But if your expectations are reasonable, and his are not, it is best to be honest with yourself about your own needs.
Natalie DeFay, MA, LAMFT - www.integrativearttherapy.net
It’s not so much what we say, but how we say it that can be revolutionary. As women, our culture teaches us to be indirect. Often we learn to hint at what we want, or come to believe the lie, “If he loves me, he’ll know what I want.” No, he doesn’t!
Below are examples of how we may be used to saying it compared to how we can phrase things differently in a way that more directly conveys what we really want.
Ineffective: You never buy me flowers
Effective: I would appreciate receiving flowers occasionally (figure out what you really want and express that)
Ineffective: Do you want to go to a movie?
Effective: I would like to go to a movie, would you like to go too? (expose your desire first, then ask what he wants)
Ineffective: You are late!
Effective: I was afraid when you didn’t show up on time. (identify how you feel, instead of describing his actions)
Ineffective: I have to do all the work
Effective: I would like some help with the dishes (be specific what you want help with)
Try both ways consciously and note the reaction you get when you say it in the ineffective way compared to the effective way. Also notice how much more empowered you feel when you are more direct in expressing your feelings and desires.
So if you want to be committed to him, let him know how you feel, and realize that he may feel the same way or he may not. You will only find out if you are direct with him and have the courage to go first by telling him how you feel.
An example of how this might look follows:
I am really growing attached to you. You have so many qualities that I desire in a man (list them here). I would like to pursue a more committed relationship with you if you also want that (Note this is a big risk. We are giving the other person the freedom to say yes or no at this point. We have to be ready for either answer.
However, being forthright about my feelings without obligating the other person to feel the same way I do sets the stage for honesty and a very healthy relationship).
I would like you to have the time you need to think about whether this is also something you want, and I would like to know your thoughts and feelings about it when you have thought about this and are ready to talk about it. (Note: Instead of demanding an answer immediately, give the other person time to think and process.)
Charlene Benson, LPC, NCC - www.bensontherapist.com
If a sparkly ring, a white picket fence, and a minivan are on your vision board, then chances are, “the talk” is in your future. Although there are exceptions to every rule, 9 times out of 10, a guy will try to get the milk without buying the cow, and the lady will be in charge of holding her boundaries.
There are no right or wrong answers.
Perhaps you are happy to swipe left and explore all the fish in the sea until the next “Star Wars” trilogy comes out. But, if you are on the clock and have an end goal in mind, and a wedding caterer booked, then knowing how, when, and where to have “the commitment talk’ is essential.
The most important rule of thumb for any commitment talk is that you are not threatening or giving an ultimatum.
You are simply respecting yourself by stating what will work for you and how you need to take care of yourself.
There are different levels of commitment so we will address the top 3.
1. Level 1:
So you have gone on a couple great dates, and are getting butterflies in your stomach and googling wedding dresses. If you have not done the deed, now would be a great time to approach the level one commitment talk.
Before sleeping together, while there are zero expectations, gently explore the general topic of marriage and kids.
This is stuff like,” Do you see yourself with a family some day?” Most guys will say something like, “Yeah, probably one day if I met the right woman.”
But, at least, it gives any die- hard anti-marriage and kids guys the chance to be upfront. This at least allows you both to pass level one, and not waste time if you have extremely different goals.
Please note, I should not even have to say this, but if someone tells you that they do not want kids or marriage, then, by all means do not EVER think for one second they will change their mind when they get to know you better.
Just run for the hills.
Also, this is a great time to explore how they have handled commitment in the past. Have they had any long- term relationships? How about jobs? Do they have any childhood friends they keep in touch with?
All of these general questions help give you a clue if this is someone who is able to commit.
2. Level 2:
Although there are no hard and fast rules, if you are beginning a sexual relationship, it is time to address level 2.
Let the guy know that you value yourself and that if he is sleeping with you, that he will not be sleeping with other people.
Things start fast for some couples and slow for others. If you are seeing each other once a week, it is very different than every day. After about a month of seeing each other regularly, it is a good time to get clear on your exclusivity. This is not an engagement. It is just checking in to protect yourself both physically and emotionally.
Assume that unless you do have a talk, that both of you are technically allowed to see other people.
The talk can just be you mentioning in a loving and gentle way that you only feel comfortable sleeping with someone if you know that they are not sleeping with others. Some guys will be ok with that. Some will not. And some will lie. But, either way, you did your part, and this is just the beginning of the journey of getting to know each other.
3. Level 3:
Perhaps your Prince will come on bended knee, harp players in the background, and propose just as the first thought of walking down the aisle enters your mind. But, chances are, at some point, one person feels ready to move forward before the other does.
If you are ruminating at night about how to approach the big talk, this section is for you.
Not gonna lie. This is scary for everyone.
This time line really varies depending on your background, age, and gut. But, generally speaking, a good time to broach the subject is after about year. At that point, you have a grasp of who this person is, and have usually gotten to see them in good times and bad. You will probably have spoken at some point about falling in love and your future after a year, so this shouldn’t be a shock. A good point to have the talk is while you are feeling especially close and intimate, maybe after a nice dinner and a glass of wine.
The idea is to make it as genuine, authentic, and drama free as possible.
Avoid threats, anger, or tears. Just speak from your heart about what you want. And let them know that you want them to feel ready and to want the same things. But, if they don’t that it is ok because you never want to pressure anyone into anything.
Then, be willing to hear what they say, and really listen.
After that, you really have to let it go for the moment. If nothing has changed after several months, it may be time to readdress it, and make decisions about how you need to take care of yourself best. That could mean being patient, or that could mean leaving. Either way, the most important thing to remember about the commitment talk, is that it is about respecting and taking care of yourself.
Be willing to walk away if you are not getting what you want.
Know your worth. The right one will not torture you or make you work too hard. They will be figuring out how to have that talk with you, and do anything in their power to keep you from getting away.
Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT - www.alisarubybash.com
I am speaking now to your core truth, gut level intuition, and higher self.
Before asking for commitment from your partner, I implore you to first examine your own blocks, concerns, doubts and fears.
If you still carry pain from past relationships, your first task is to seek help in healing those wounds. Otherwise, you may project them onto your partner and create discord in your relationship.
Commitment to an intimate relationship is not to be taken lightly.
Nor should you demand commitment from your partner. You must first be fully responsible for and committed to yourself. Before you approach your partner, you must be clear about whom you are, what you want, where you want to go, and with whom. It’s equally important for your partner to deal with his own issues and have a clear sense of self before you have a commitment talk.
When each of you feels clear, set time aside for mutual self-disclosure, a time for honestly sharing any remaining concerns, or hesitation, with regard to deepening your connection.
Each partner will speak aloud, uninterrupted, as the other listens silently and attentively. When you are each complete, then discuss and clarify any remaining issues with the intent to create solutions together. It’s also a good time to reaffirm your love and support for each other.
Sit side by side on a sofa or chairs with a table in front of you. On the table place a large newsprint tablet, pencils (black and color), or a large whiteboard with black and colored pens, and erasers. Draw a large circle in the center where you will write your shared vision for your life together.
Each of you will write an affirmation expressing how you intend to serve and contribute to your relationship.
For example, “I now bring, to our relationship, my core truth, love and commitment to co-creating a vision that supports our individual and mutual growth, expansion and prosperity.”
Think of the tablet as a sacred altar where your combined energies are being visibly expressed. Talk about your individual passions, core values, goals and dreams. Notice how they match and can blend together. Then co-create and write your vision and purpose in the center circle.
This will allow you to clearly see how and where you are aligned with yourself and each other. The tablet or white board is a living document that grows with you and accommodates changes needed for you to both feel fully acknowledged as equal partners in the co-created vision for your life together.
When you are both clear and ready to live your vision, it’s time to speak of commitment...to the goals, dreams, vision and purpose that you share.
This is not about marriage and externally dictated vows. It’s about an ongoing conversation, living every now moment together with truth, transparency, love, joy, and passion. When you share a common vision, and respect individual autonomy within your union, then each partner can comfortably remain both committed and free.
Elizabeth Powers, Hypnotherapist & Spiritual Counselor - www.empatherapy.com
Is it time to dtr? You know, define your relationship? So many people fear the relationship talk.
Feelings of rejection, disappointment and embarrassment fuel the push against not defining the relationship.
The idea that perhaps you are being too pushy, too eager, too slow, too anxious, too avoidant. The questions of, “What if he doesn’t like me as much as I like him?” “What if he is not as serious as me?” “What if he wants more than I can give?” Are you making yourself sick with what if’s? Stuck in uncertainty? Questioning your feelings and your motives for wanting to define the relationship? Tired of not knowing and pretending not to care?
You have every right to know where you stand with someone. When you know how the other person feels this empowers you to do what you need to do. For example, you decide to define your relationship, only to find out he isn’t as into you as you are him? That’s okay. Now you know and can find someone who is. Where ever the other person stands, when you know, you can take care of you and stop waiting around for them to take control.
So how do you have “the talk” to define your relationship?
1. Know where you stand.
Be confident in your feelings. Yes, you might get hurt. Or you might be surprised. It’s going to be okay. Either way. You have a right to feel the way you do. And you have a right to know how he feels. This empowers both of you, to have open and honest communication, as well as, being able to validate each other’s feelings. Know what you want. It is easy to go into a conversation about your relationship not knowing what you want, only to leave the conversation feeling like you sold yourself short.
2. Be okay with saying what you want.
If you want commitment. Then say you want commitment. Don’t agree to an open relationship if that is not what you want. You deserve someone who is going to meet your needs. Someone who you align with. If he doesn’t want what you want, great! You are now free to find someone who does.
Remember you deserve unconditional love on your terms. Just as much as he does. Defining your relationship is a step towards having open and honest communication. It is a stepping stone for the future of the relationship you are in or the next one. The more comfortable you get with staying what you want with confidence, the easier it will be for other topics.
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
Whether you have done it once or even a hundred times, discussing where your relationship stands isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. At the very least, it’s a little nerve wrecking. Both of you are putting yourself out there and hoping that the other person is on the same page and equally ready to commit. As women, there is still a traditional idea that men should initiate relationship milestones. However, in today’s world, relationships and relationship responsibilities are becoming more egalitarian.
If you are thinking about having a relationship talk with your significant other, here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
1. Understand timing.
Timing is important to consider in relationships. How long have you been dating? Has it only been a few weeks? If so, consider if the timing is right to have this type of discussion. You want to consider if this is something both you and your potential partner are ready for.
2. Don’t go too fast.
Sometimes people can feel pressure when it comes to defining a relationship. Trying to find the “perfect” timing can be intimidating because you don’t want to rush into in but yet you don’t want to see yourself get hurt. It’s important to set those fears aside and allow the relationship to develop. Don’t let your worries push you into having the conversation too soon.
3. Own how you feel.
At the end of the day, if you’re ready to be in a committed relationship, it is important to share those feelings. You don’t want to beat around the bush or downplay your feelings. Be open with your potential partner and tell them how you feel about them and your current relationship.
4. Share what you want.
Don’t be afraid to tell your potential partner what you want. If you’re interested in being exclusive, tell them. If they hesitate or aren’t ready, it can open up an important discussion. It can also give you the opportunity to figure out what you want moving forward.
The “relationship talk” can be intimidating, but it can also be empowering. By being bold and having this conversation, you potentially end up in the relationship you’ve always wanted.
Michelle Overman, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern, MMFT, LMFT-As – www.michelleoverman.com
Trying to push a man into committing to you never really has a happy ending. But what does it look like when a man is ready to commit to you exclusively? He can’t stand the thought of you being with another guy and wants to make you his.
Wouldn’t it be great to never feel like you have to have “the talk” because he’s the one asking you for the commitment?
Use these simple steps from the beginning of the relationship to create a lasting, connection so that he’ll be the one initiating the exclusivity talk with you.
Step 1: Position Yourself in the Driver’s Seat
Asking a man where you stand with him puts you in a weak position and gives him the upper hand in your relationships. And it will make you less attractive to him. While I’m certainly not advocating that you play any “hard-to-get” games (or any games at all), men are attracted to women who aren’t “easy” to get. Women who are more choosy or discerning will be more attractive to a man.
Step 2: Determine and Then Communicate What You Want
Rather than trying to convince your man to commit, share your plans for your own future, with or without him. As an example, I’ve always known I was a career girl that never wanted to have children. Generally by the third date, I wove this fact into our conversation so that we could determine early on if this would be a deal breaker or not.
When he sees that you know what you want and are selective in finding a man who meets your needs, dreams, and interests, he will appreciate you as being selective. And if he aligns with your requirements, he’ll be compelled to want you for himself.
Step 3: Use Positive Reinforcement to Create the Relationship You Want
When your man does something that makes you happy, something you appreciate, or something you’d like for him to do again, tell him! By sharing your feelings, you enable him to connect with you and the positive experience you are relaying. He feels good that he makes you feel good, and he’ll want to repeat this behavior… for you.
By layering a foundation of encouraging comments, he can’t help but develop positive feelings for you and will see you as an essential part of his life—and he’ll want to keep you in it.
Step 4: Keep Your Options Open
The whole purpose of dating is trying each other on for size. It’s a time for you to find out what you really want and don’t want in a relationship. You can’t do this if you shut yourself off from seeing other men before you have the commitment you’re seeking from the man you want.
It’s all about finding your match and not just being in a relationship for the sake of having a guy in your life… you want the right guy. I’ve always said that I’d rather be alone than “stuck” in the wrong relationship.
As you can see, the key to making a man want you all to himself is to be the woman who loves him and wants him but doesn’t necessarily need him. When he senses that he’s lucky to have you, he’ll be motivated to seal the deal. No “Talk” necessary!
Deb Daufeldt, MA, NCC - www.newchaptersolutions.com
The talk topic comes up often for people at a variety of times in a variety of situations. Sometimes we should just go along with things as they are and enjoy how they are going rather than forcing the issue of having “the talk.”
Think about this situation.
You are dating someone, things are going along very well, everybody is happy, content and getting along better than you ever have with anyone else. You are spending days, evenings and a majority of the time together. It is clear the person cares about you and wants to be with you. You feel certain that you are in the same place as far as this relationships status. So truly everything is going well and you decide you need to push the issue of having the talk.
Why do you do this?
You may justify, that well I just need to know where we stand, or I need to make sure we are on the same page and everything is going the right way. But, weren’t things going the right way, weren’t you happy, didn’t you feel fulfilled? Then why push the issue of the talk and upset the apple cart and possibly ruin a great relationship.
Often we equate things in all areas of our life as needing to fit in a box, be clarified, or just be black and white.
We forget that relationships, falling in love and just feeling things don’t fit into any boxes, they are not black and white and they sure are hard to clarify. No romantic movie shows the talk as part of the romantic picture. People go with it, feel it and let it happen in its perfect time.
In our world of control and classification maybe we should let love and relationship creation be just what it is, a glorious amazing unknown.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
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