“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love… but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.”
~ Mandy Hale
Let’s begin by exploring what it means to “commit” as it relates an intimate relationship as it can mean different things to different people.
For some, commitment means a serious long-term romantic relationship. For others, commitment may also denote exclusivity, in other words, emotional and sexual fidelity. Commitment might also mean a lasting partnership that ultimately leads to marriage or a legal partnership of some sort.
So it is important for you to be clear about what it is that you want to have or create with this man when you use the term “commit”.
It is equally important that your man has the same picture in his mind when you use that term.
I say this, because it is rather meaningless to tell him to “commit”, or more properly “ask” him to commit, when he doesn’t really know what you are asking for.
So let’s get started.
Your first job is to sit down and have an open, honest and respectful discussion about what it is you are wanting with him, including any expectations you have for your life together.
This will be a sensitive conversation so it is important to pick the right time for it. By the right time, I mean a time when neither of you is agitated, upset or angry — nor in a hurry.
Plan what you’ll say ahead of time. Frame your words carefully using respectful, caring language. Avoid threats and ultimatums because they are counter-productive. Speak in terms of what you need, what you would like to have with him with no demands of him. Importantly, be specific about nature of the commitment are you looking for.
Now that you’ve had your say, it is time for you to listen to what he has to say. I mean truly listen to him with no interruption or argumentation. When he is finished you can ask for any clarification needed.
Now that you know where you stand with him, you will probably be left with two options – to make a life together or go your separate ways. Let’s briefly explore these options.
As a result of your discussion, let’s suppose you are both in agreement about what commitment means to each of you, that you both want that level of commitment with each other and you wish to go forward with your relationship. You can then begin to make plans for a life together, hopefully, with a clearer understanding of both of your needs and expectations. If there are matters about which you are still unclear or that you are in conflict about, then it might be helpful to seek professional assistance e.g. from a relationship professional.
There really isn’t much you can do if he does not want what you want. Threats, demands and ultimatums will not work and will only sow the seeds of bitterness in your hearts. That’s a heavy burden for both of you to carry. What you can do is to end things with him with as much care, dignity and respect as you can muster.
Breakups, no matter how you manage them, are painful.
But there’s no need to add to the pain with poor behavior, e.g. histrionics, threats and hostility. What you both should be aiming for is a dignified breakup that is marked by mutual regard. A relationship professional can help you achieve this goal.
Mary Rizk, Transformative Coach, B.A., M.A., M.Ed. – www.maryrizk.com
If you have found yourself in a relationship with a man who has not committed to seeing only you, and you want commitment, you are probably with the wrong man.
If a man values you, he is not going to want to risk losing you by not committing to you. If he doesn’t value you this isn’t about your having value or not, it is about him.
But let’s say for the sake of argument, you really like challenges and are a problem solver, and you want to find a way to convince a man to commit to you. Once you realize that you are wanting something more serious in the relationship, such as commitment, be open, honest, and transparent with your desires and goals for yourself.
Part of valuing yourself is being able to be assertive, make wise choices, and invest time and energy in places that have a good return.
Saying “no” or “goodbye” is another way to value yourself. You do not need to waste time in a relationship that is not aligned with your goals for a future. There are plenty of men out there who share your goals, but you are not available to those men if you are in a dead-end relationship with someone else who doesn’t want the same things.
Direct communication will save you time and help you to get your questions answered.
If you want to play a game, get out the Scrabble board, but if you want to be a part of a healthy committed relationship, be assertive. You aren’t going to get what you want by letting things happen in your life.
Take some time to figure out what you do want in your life.
Identify your values and morals. Think about spiritual or religious practices that are important to you. Explore how you spend and save money and your spending goals for the future. Decide if you want to have children, adopt, or have none at all.
Once you have spent some time figuring these areas out, make sure your potential partner is aligned with these important areas.
If commitment is something you value, and you date men who share the same values, you will soon find yourself in a committed relationship!
Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com
1. Tell him where you are with the relationship.
The first step is to honestly and lovingly express your own feelings, where you are and what your intentions are for the relationship. As he cannot read your mind, it is your responsibility to let him know exactly how you were feeling. Be authentic, open, and express your positive intentions for the relationship.
2. Ask him to tell you where he is in the relationship.
The next step is to find out exactly how he is feeling, what he’s thinking, and what his intentions are. Once you understand more about his outlook, then you can decide if you want to continue to pursue the relationship.
3. Give him a timeline.
If you are certain that you want a future together, get clarity for yourself about how long you can wait for him to make a decision. Give him advance notice of your limits, and make them explicitly clear. This will give him time to evaluate whether or not it is worth the possibility of losing you.
4. State what you will do if he can’t meet you where you are.
Let him know what your plans are if he is not able to commit to you. This is not a time to be wishy-washy, but rather time to be crystal clear. You do not need to communicate this in a threatening way, but simply in the spirit of what you will need to do to take care of yourself and to further your own life.
5. Follow through .
You must do whatever you have told him you will do if he is not able to step up to committing to the relationship. Be very thoughtful about timelines and consequences before you communicate them, and once you have done so, you need to have the integrity to keep your word and trust the process and the universe.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
Over the years, women have been cast in a negative light when they want commitment from a man. Wanting a commitment is not a bad thing at all and I want to set you up for success with how you ask for it.
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, there is an acronym called DEAR MAN.
This skill helps you talk about what you really want.
Describe – The first step is to describe the situation.
It is key here to be factual only – leave out your thoughts and feelings (for now). In 1-2 sentences, you want to set the scene for what you’re talking about. You might say things like, “We’ve been together for 2 years and we aren’t engaged yet” or “6 months ago, we had a conversation about our future and where we see this headed”. This is a great way to focus on common ground because these are things that both of you are aware of.
Express – Next, express your thoughts and emotions about the situation you just described in the first step.
You don’t want this part to be too lengthy either – 1-2 sentences is all. You might say something like, “I feel confused about what our future holds” or “I’m starting to worry that we won’t ever get engaged.”
Assert – This is where you make the ask you’re wanting in 1-2 sentences.
It’s important to be very specific here. Instead of saying, “I would like for us to spend more time together”, say something like, “I would like us to go on a date every week.”
Instead of saying, “I want you to be more committed to me”, explain what that looks like (i.e. “I’d like for us to be engaged within the next year”). What’s really important here is to only make ONE request. Be clear on what you’re asking for.
Reinforce – This is where you talk about how you see it benefitting the two of you as a couple.
Think about how doing this may get him something he’s wanting. The biggest reinforcer is likely that it will make the two of you a closer couple, but there may be other potential benefits as well. You can also say what might occur if what you’re asking for does not happen and talk about potential negative consequences. This is meant to be done in a matter of fact way, not a threatening way.
After those first four steps, pause and give him a chance to respond. If you’re doing the skill correctly, you’ve only spoken about 4-7 sentences and it should have only taken a few minutes to share all that.
If he does not respond positively/with understanding, then move on to the MAN part of the acronym.
Be Mindful and Appear Confident (the M and the A) –
This does not mean all is lost! Try to put yourself in his shoes and ask again for what you’re asking (with some adjustments perhaps for what his concerns are). Make good eye contact and use a confident tone of voice while you do this.
Negotiate – The final step is to negotiate if needed.
If he seems on the fence with what you’re asking for, try your best to figure out why and ask what he does feel comfortable with. Determine if the two of you can reach a compromise where you feel like he’s taking further steps in the near future to commit to you and he’s comfortable at the same time.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
If a woman has been dating a man for a while and she is desiring a deeper commitment, the first thing I would change in this statement is the thought of “telling him”.
We humans need to realize that true communication should lead to a deeper connection. And, thinking she can just “tell” him would not engender feelings of him wanting to commit.
Rather, the idea is to connect to her own authentic self, be willing to speak from the “I”, and ask to have a dialogue about something that is very important to her.
Then if he is willing, she might then begin with stating how she feels about him and that she would like to have a “dialogue” about moving the relationship to a deeper level with more commitment.
If he gets upset, changes the subject, or tells her that he is simply not ready, this woman has gained a lot of information that is very important.
- First, he is showing her that her needs are not that important by not being willing to listen to what she wants and be willing to have a dialogue.
- Second, the question comes up for me, IF her needs are not important now in the dating stage, the chances of her needs becoming more important after a “commitment” are next to zero percent.
So, the question is: “ Why would you want to be with someone who does not see you as “equal to”?
Women tend to ignore this very important fact that they should be “equal” to, not better and not less than her partner and therefore, her needs are also equal to.
A second point about everyone’s needs being important is this: though everyone’s needs are important, it does not mean that the other has to meet those needs, it means that the other is willing to support those needs.
For example, If I am in a relationship and I desperately want to go sky-diving, but my partner is deathly afraid of heights, he could show support by voicing his concerns, and then understanding that this is very important to me.
He would show support by willing to say something like: “ I am afraid for you and I also believe you will take all the precautions necessary”.
In this day and age when there is so much turmoil everywhere we turn.
I believe that as we can create a refuge in our relationships where we know, and act like we are “equal to”, we can renew ourselves there and then know what to do in the outer world.
Suzanne Carter, MA, LPC – www.unitywholenesscenter.com
Boundaries always come from a place of love.
Boundaries are always about me, not the other person. I’m not telling the other person what to do. I’m telling them what I will do if they violate my boundary.
If you are in a relationship and are ready for commitment and your partner is not there, it’s really okay to tell him that.
You can tell him from a place of love, because you love yourself and you have to right to state what you need and want.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone else has to give you what you need or want. That is their decision. And you can still love them, regardless of what they decide. You just don’t have to stay in a relationship with them if you want different things.
I’m going to assume that you’ve already let him know that you are ready for commitment and that you have been waiting for him to ‘be ready’. Now you are tired of waiting.
Here’s an example of how to tell him to commit or YOU WILL LEAVE:
Hey “George”, you know I’m crazy about you, right?
And you know I’m all in on this relationship.
I’m ready to be in a relationship where that level of commitment is mutual.
I know we’ve talked about this before (if you have), but I just wanted to check in with you today so I can have clarity. Are we on the same page?
Now, be a good listener. After he had responded, reflect back to him in your words, what you heard him say. For example,
So, what it sounds like your saying, is that you still not completely sure what you want in some areas of your future and you want to wait until you finish this project (get the promotion, settle your dad’s estate, figure out where your kids will attend school, fill in the blank….) to really commit. You’re also saying that you’re crazy about me too (or love me or fill in the blank). Did I get that right?
It’s really important that you get confirmation from him that you heard him correctly. Often, we think we understand what the other person means but we tend to attach or own meaning to what we hear. So be sure you really heard what he said.
Then, you might say,
I totally get where you’re at. I’m just at a different place. I wish things could be different but I have to honor what I really desire now. My gut says that I’ve waited long enough and I need to be with someone who is ready now. I value the time we spent together and I wish all good things for you and your future.
That’s it. Stop talking. Keep it pretty simple.
This is your boundary. You need to be with someone who is ready to commit and since he is not ready, you have to move on.
Now, take the time you need to grieve and heal your heart.
And then get back out there ready to meet the one who is already ready for commitment and is just waiting to find you!
Ellen Hartson, LISW – www.ellenhartson.com
Let’s say you are seeing someone for a while and are ready to make a commitment.
The problem is that you don’t know where he stands or if he is in the same place as you.
Obviously, you do not want to waste your time with someone whose long-term goal is out of sync with yours. At some point, you need to stop second-guessing the relationship and find out what your partner truly wants.
Don’t assume anything.
Discussing your “vision for the future” can be difficult if you and your partner haven’t broached the subject before.
You can open the dialogue by saying,
“I really enjoy what we have together and feel that we have been exclusive. We share so many things and have a great time together. Can we talk about this?”
Hopefully, this will start a conversation about what you both want for the future, how you can get there, whether you are on the same time-line and what to do if you are not.
If his statements are noncommittal, vague or confusing, it is necessary to communicate with clarity, asking questions that would explain his thoughts and concerns.
In this way you avoid confusion and the conflict associated with unfulfilled expectations.
Good communication is essential for a healthy, committed relationship.
Everything that gets discussed will not always please you, but when things get out in the open, at least you’ll know if your future together is possible or if it’s time to look for someone else. It allows each partner to talk about the future and perhaps include one another in their dreams and goals.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
I think this issue has a lot to do with timing.
- How long have you and this man been seeing each other?
- Is it reasonable to ask for a commitment at this stage of the relationship?
You need to ask yourself if your need for a commitment comes from a place of confidence and certainty about the quality of the relationship, or if it comes from anxiety that if you don’t get that commitment the relationship might fall apart.
Nobody can ever tell you what is a reasonable amount of time and what isn’t.
I think it depends more on being able to answer some questions about the quality of the person and of the relationship:
- Do you trust this man? Can you rely on him to be there not just in the good times but also in the challenging times?
- Do you share common goals and values?
- Is he able to manage conflict well? Is he willing to address issues that might lead to conflict and work through them?
- Is he tolerant of differences? Does he respect your opinions and thoughts?
- Does he seem able to create a meaningful life for himself? Does he have friends and family who enrich him or will he be dependent on you to meet all of his needs.
These are not questions that you can answer in a week or a month.
They require sustained contact and meaningful conversations. You will not be able to have these conversations while you are still in the throes of the passion that characterizes the early stages of a relationship. In that stage it’s about attraction and while that’s important it’s not enough.
When you feel that you’ve gotten to know him in depth, it’s time to ask him how he’s thinking about your relationship and where he sees it heading.
Don’t be afraid to initiate this conversation. It will let you know whether you should invest more time and energy into him or if it’s time to move on.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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