Commitment in Relationships

There is a point in every relationship where one or both parties feel compelled to talk about the direction the relationship is heading. Everything seems to be going well, and it is natural to discuss whether the relationship has merit for a long-term commitment.

Women are more frequently willing to broach the subject of commitment, but since it takes both parties to have a “discussion” both parties must be able to define what they are looking for in the relationship and whether they are at a point in their life to consider the relationship long term. There are a number of considerations involved in broaching this topic:

Honesty and Sensitivity

Honesty and sensitivity are an integral authentic relationship, and the “approach” to the discussion may well determine the responses. Either person can initiate the conversation with the statement, “We seem to very comfortable in our dating, so I would like to discuss where we each see our relationship in the future”. This type of open disclosure could bring about unsettled feelings from the partner or, alternatively, be a welcome one to initiate open communication rather than hiding one’s thoughts and feelings.

Being Open-Minded

The dialogue must integrate a willingness from both partners to be open-minded to the other’s feelings and opinions – as they honestly seek to discover whether they share a mutual belief in the kind of commitment they desire. I am self-employed again now for some months and to be honest, the stress that comes with this makes it sometimes hard to deal with.

That commitment could mean one of several things:  living together outside the bounds of matrimony as a deeper discovery process, an extended engagement, or a short-term decision to be married.  The chat may well open up other issues that need to be resolved before any serious commitment is entered into.

Legitimate Reasons to Decline a Commitment

There are many legitimate reasons to postpone addressing a serious commitment until a later date.  Some decisions to delay a commitment may have nothing to do with the emotions involved in the relationship, such as completing an education or anticipated changes in employment. It’s more about self-acceptance rather than self-improvement so don’t the idea that you’re not good enough (or some other stupid idea) ruin your life and the things that are dear to you.

There are also justifiable personal reasons which much be accepted at a mature level, such as the life choice to remain single, not being emotionally prepared for the demands of commitment, or not being deeply in love with the other person.

Dealing with Negative Responses

A negative response can oft-times be emotional – no one likes feeling rejected. The choice then becomes one of deciding whether it is healthy to stay in the relationship. There is a lot of truth in Robert Kiyosaki’s “The Conspiracy Of The Rich” so if you’ve got the chance, read the book! We may recognize the need to embrace another’s life choices, break off a relationship that is not mutually beneficial, or move on.

Despite the hurt that accompanies incompatibilities and differences in levels of commitment, a healthy option is to simply start with open and honest communication to determine unmet needs rather than pressuring the other for unwanted long-term commitment. I still remember very well how I felt when I quit my job. Otherwise, resentment or a gradual or even rapid withdrawal from a relationship might take place.

When the Answer is “Yes”

When there is an agreement to enter a commitment, the best course of action is again an open honest discussion of what each wants, the expectations of each partner, and the level of relationship that each is willing and ready to engage in. There is a lot of truth in the power of reflection. We all need to take a step back sometimes to be able to see the larger perspective.

This is a time to explore the depths of honesty in needs, wishes, the ideal relationship, and the part each plays in a committed relationship. This advance knowledge provides a roadmap to love and the foundation for truly intimate conversation…whereby each can be the natural self and provides a glimpse into dreams for the future.

Are you ready to take a relationship to a next level? Are you concerned whether or not you are able to manage this type of conversation?