Be upfront with what you want out of a relationship.
There are two stories in the news these days that say a lot about relationships and women's role in them. The first is the big news that perennial bachelor George Clooney is engaged. Now, engaged is not married, so he is still a bachelor and anything can happen. But it has raised the question, why her? Why now? What does she have that all his other former partners didn't have? The buzz is what, if any, impact this news will have on those other commitment-phobes out there, maybe even yours.
The other story is not ostensibly about relationships; Donald Sterling's racist comments that have rightly cost him dearly. But his other — less publicized —statement about his current girlfriend not following his rules and how easily he could find one who would, is also important. It was a revolting thing to say; though that is mostly because he was right. The lure of money and power can be too enticing for some women to resist. How else could a thoroughly reprehensible human being like Mr. Sterling attract young, beautiful women to his bed? There is an old saying that if you marry for money, you earn every penny. If you can handle your side of the bargain then more power to you — no judgments. It would seem that the one thing Mr. Sterling's mistresses understood is what they wanted and what was necessary for them to get it.
Mr. Clooney's former partners, on the other hand, did not have the same understanding. Maybe they didn't want to be married and were okay with the way things ended. But, if getting the world's most eligible bachelor down the aisle was their goal, they definitely did not succeed.
Not everyone wants to be married and that's fine. However, there is a lesson here for those wanting to get hitched. If that is what you want, don't settle for less. Moving in together sounds like a good way to test marriage out and, when both parties see how well it works out, can take the next step. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. One person, often the man, gets as much commitment (and many of the benefits) as he wants, meanwhile the other partner, often the woman, gets increasingly frustrated with the lack of relationship progress. The relationship limps along, sometimes for years.
I'm not against living together — I've done it a couple of times myself: once for the wrong reason, once for convenience and once after my husband and I got engaged. But moving in to "try out" marriage, to pay less in rent, or because you spend practically every night together anyway, are not good enough reasons. Hence, they rarely work out the way the person who desires marriage wants. Even if you do manage to convince someone to marry you, the relationship may not last in the long run if your partner is not sold on the idea. You are worth more than that. You deserve someone who wants to marry you; not someone who needs to be talked into it.
Be clear about your goal. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married. Be willing to walk away from a relationship that is not going in the direction you want it to. No guy, not even George Clooney, is worth you sacrificing your desires and goals in the hopes that, one day, he will see you for the prize that you are.
When you settle for less than your goals, you are telling your partner that you don't think that you are worth making that level of commitment. And if you don't believe it, why should they? This isn't about playing games or delivering ultimatums. It's about boundaries and honoring your needs. Maybe that's what set the future Mrs. Clooney apart from all the rest.
Let me know if you have ever experienced these issues in your relationship and if you think these suggestions would be helpful. Lesli@balancedfamily.com