It’s the “C” word that so many people dread talking about. (We’re not referring to a disease that’s the subject of a popular tv series, by the way.)
At some point when you’ve been dating, hanging out, having fun and possibly sleeping together too, you might start to wonder. You wonder whether it’s okay for you to spend the night at his place as often as you do. You wonder if you should expect that he’ll want to go out with you Saturday night (as you’ve been doing for the past few months).
You wonder if he’s being monogamous as you are...even though the subject hasn’t been discussed.
You start to wonder what kind of commitment your guy has with you and what exactly THIS is that you two are doing.
It’s an issue that arises early on as you’re trying to figure out whether you two could be officially a couple or if you’re only casually dating or even just flirty friends.
If your man associates commitment with a loss of freedom or a fast track to the wedding altar, he might be more resistant to discussing the issue. Even if he isn’t a commitment phobe, maybe he’s nervous or unsure about your feelings for him. He’s hesitant to bring up the subject because he wants to appear cool and not scare you off.
It can be tough to communicate about commitment because so many people associate it with “getting serious" or the last stop before getting engaged. It’s normal and natural for you to want to know what your guy expects, what he’s open to and what’s he’s not ready for.
So take a deep breath and find the courage to talk about it.
Be clear about what you’re looking for.
Don’t try to talk about commitment until you know what you want. Be honest with yourself. If you think it’s “too soon” to talk about being a couple, explore that belief. If you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re okay with this arrangement when deep inside you really aren’t, admit it to yourself.
Perhaps the worst thing for you to be is wishy washy or insincere as you have this conversation. Be aware of what you’re ready for now-- or in the near future-- and focus on that. Speak with confidence and let him know that this is where you’re looking for now and, if you’re comfortable, you can also tell him what you want in the long-term.
Don’t assume that you and your guy have the exact same understanding of what being “a couple” means. Talk about the specifics even if it feels silly or difficult to bring up. Are you looking for monogamy, dating exclusively or something else? Even if you’re willing to be in an open relationship, talk about exactly what that means to you.
If you’re worried about scaring your guy off avoid saying, “It’s time for you to settle down with me” or “I’m done with no-strings sex.” These statements might reflect how you really feel, but you want to communicate in a way that will invite him to listen and not shut down or feel defensive and these won’t encourage that.
Instead say, “I really like you and what’s happening between us. Are you open to dating exclusively?” or “I’m having a great time with you and would like us to be a couple. Are you ready for that?”
Listen carefully to his response. If you’re nervous about this conversation, you might be tempted to read into what he says and this can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment. If you’re confused, ask him to, “Please help me understand what you mean when you say....”
Choose what’s next.
What’s most important is to honor what you want. If your guy isn’t ready to make the kind of commitment that you’re looking for, ask him if this is likely to change and ask him to be honest.
Make a decision about what’s best for you which might be to wait and see if he’s ready for more commitment in the near future or, if he’s not, to consider whether you’ll date or sleep with him again.
This is not about him being a jerk or you being pushy or moving too fast or any other stereotype you may have heard about relationships. This is about you listening to yourself and listening to him and determining if what you both want is a match.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches, authors and speakers who help individuals and couples attract and keep amazing love, passion and connection. “Magic Words” can help you say what you need to say the right way, even when it’s difficult. Visit www.magicrelationshipwords.com to find out more.