“You should never have to look for evidence that someone loves you. True love is crystal clear.”
~ Mandy Hale
You are responsible for you when it comes to deciding who you want to date and how you want to move forward with a relationship.
That does not mean that your partner will be on the same page.
Communication is key, but it starts with vulnerability.
Brene Brown said it best,
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”
In this case, clearly communicating your goals for your relationship (e.g., how much time you spend together, living arrangements, meeting the family or friends, etc.) can be terrifying due to our fears of rejection.
Effectively asking for what we want in a relationship (DEAR MAN):
- Describe – Use clear concrete terms like, “I have been thinking about introducing you to my parents.”
- Express – Let others know how the situation makes you feel. “I’m confused about whether you are open to meeting them. This also makes me feel sad because the story I am telling myself is that you do not care.”
- Assert – Do not beat around the bush. “How do you actually feel?”
- Reinforce/reward – When the other person responds well (e.g., not deflecting or leaving the room), let them you appreciate their response (even if you do not like what they say). “Thank you for hearing me out and letting me know what you actually think.”
- Mindful – Do not forget your objective or get sidetracked by old arguments.
- Appear Confident – Consider your posture, tone, eye contact, and body language.
- Negotiate – No one can get everything they want out of every interaction. Be open to finding the middle path. “I would like for us to circle around to this issue in a couple of months.”
Here are some tips on how to cope with the disappointment of your partner not being on the same page:
Self-regulate by first recognizing how you feel.
Do not push the feelings away. Reminder: “I am strong enough to withstand this storm.”
Allow the emotions to be as they are. Breathe deeply when a wave of strong emotions hits you (e.g., throat tightens, muscles tense, stomach butterflies) and slowly breathe out to lessen the intensity.
If the emotions feel like they are going to overwhelm you try applying cold temperature (shower, icepack on your neck, or cold drink), distract for a short period of time by watching a funny clip or run in place/jumping jacks.
Self-soothe by being gentle with yourself.
Think warm and cozy textures, scents, lighting, images, or sounds. Guided meditations on self-compassion can also be helpful (Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace Apps).
Look for the people who already support and love you, and remind yourself that you are wanted, you are loved, and you do belong.
Even if your partner is indecisive about moving the relationship forward, find comfort that you know exactly where you stand. When we trust our instincts, it makes it easier for us to make decisions, no matter how another responds.
Paola Granados-Radlick, PsyD – www.psychologistmiami.com
Relationships where commitment is harder for one partner than another are so emotionally difficult and can be quite draining particularly for the more committed partner.
An added layer to that challenge can be if you have friends and family who feel like they are supporting you by saying things like, “just break up already” or “what are you doing with them anyways?”
While they are trying to help, often those comments lead to you feeling unsupported and like you are alone in a tough situation.
The truth is that you would not stay with this person if you didn’t feel strongly for them and want the future you envision together to become reality.
It can be even more difficult if you have a long history, a really passionate relationship, and shared finances, living situations, or even pets and children together.
How do you walk away from all that just because the person is not sure of committing to you?
You might even wonder if you truly “need” commitment.
Marriage is a social construct after all so why do I want this so badly?
Then even more tough questions can follow…
- Is there something wrong with me that they won’t commit?
- Will I even be able to find someone else out there?
You might even think something like “the dating world seems so awful; I’d hate to be back out there.”
Needless to say, this is an untenable and exhausting situation to be in and it can be tough to find a way out.
If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is unsure about you, or the relationship they have with you, it might be helpful to ask yourself some tough questions.
And not the “what’s wrong with me” types of questions you might be used to that have superficial answers like “I should lose weight, if I was prettier, or I should make more money.”
The deep, soul searching kinds of questions that will actually help you think about what is going on and why you are staying.
- What is it about this relationship that keeps me hanging on?
- If they are unsure about me, what does that mean that I am choosing them?
- Why am I not prioritizing my own sureness about myself and my worth?
- If there are steps I need to take to move on in my life, why am I afraid or avoiding them?
As a therapist, these are questions I have helped clients answer.
It might help to seek a therapist yourself to help yourself sit with these thoughts and feelings but in a supportive space with someone who is truly there just to care about you!
Erica Wollerman, PsyD – www.thrivetherapystudio.com
Eager to move to the next level in your relationship but feeling resistance from your partner?
This can be so painful. It can bring up fears of not being enough, of your partner not loving you as much as you love him—and it can cause a lot of confusion as to what to do next.
First off, get really honest with yourself.
Is your partner truly the person you want to be committing to?
If your core values are aligned, there is mutual respect, and you have similar life goals, give yourself a huge pat on the back for doing a lot to create a compatible, healthy relationship.
Second, is the commitment level you’re shooting for reasonable considering the amount of time you’ve been together?
- Have you given the relationship enough time (with your eyes wide open to all red flags) to know that you are ready for the next level of commitment?
- What do you hope to gain from being more committed?
- Have you been in the relationship long enough to have an objective viewpoint of your strengths and challenges as a couple?
If the strengths outweigh the challenges and the challenges are something you can live with (potentially forever); if you feel good most of the time in the relationship; and if you believe you are ready for the next level of commitment, these are signs that you are doing your part to be as introspective and healthy as you can.
Now let’s talk about your partner.
- What is the reason he is indecisive or reluctant to move the relationship forward?
- Has he been hurt?
- Is he afraid of commitment?
- Is there something about your relationship that is making him reluctant to commit?
Let’s take a look back at your relationship history.
- When you’ve asked him to make changes to be a better, stronger partner, has he been willing and open to make changes and work on himself?
If so, that is a sign that he’s at least partially committed to making you happy and working toward his own growth.
- If he is afraid of commitment, is he willing to work on it?
If so, good—but you’ll need to see that he’s taking action and remains dedicated to you in the process, communicating about his insights.
Ultimately, if you are committed to being with him and you continue to see inaction, avoidance, or a lack of willingness to work on committing to you, save yourself the continued heartbreak and end the relationship.
You could be waiting a very long time for someone who isn’t ready to change or isn’t that committed to you. You deserve a committed partner!
Jennifer Meyer, M.A., LPC, NCC – www.jenmeyercounseling.com
So, your ready to move your relationship to the next level, the only problem is that your guy seems indecisive.
Your wondering, what gives and what can you do about it?
While there are many possible reasons for his hesitation, I believe that most indecisive guys fall into one of two categories.
The first category is the guy who likes you but has realized at some level that this is not the relationship he is ultimately looking for (This category is not exclusive to guys. Women can be in this category also).
This guy enjoys his time with you and would miss you if you were not dating but knowing you are not “the one” for him he has allowed the relationship to proceed as far as he’s comfortable with. This allows him to keep an eye out in case he runs into “the one.”
If he‘s honest with you about that, you can then decide if you want to keep spending time together but you should know that he will quickly move on if he meets someone who might be “the one.”
It’s also important to know that this has nothing to do with you. Many people (women and men) may ask themselves, what’s wrong with me? Why am I not “the one”?
In reality, just because you really like a new coat doesn’t mean it makes sense to buy it.
It still needs to fit you and if it doesn’t, no worries that coat will fit someone else perfectly.
The second common category is the guy who suffers from FOMO.
They really, really like you and may even love you but they are terrified of what they will miss out on if they take the relationship to the next level. These guys may be worried that there might be someone better out there for them but they may be just as worried that they will miss out on “something” if they move to the next level.
A really interesting example of this is two old tv series.
The first one is ‘Sex in the City’ where a group of female friends are living exciting lives but are also looking for meaningful relationships (for the most part, lol) while still maintaining exciting lives.
The second show is ‘Entourage’ (which as a guy I really liked).
In Entourage a group of male friends are living very exciting lives and are constantly in relationships but these relationships are more superficial. In ‘Entourage’ unlike in ‘Sex in the City’ the idea of taking a relationship deeper meant saying goodbye to your fun exciting life where as in Sex in the City, the women could have both.
Here’s the good news, your guy’s inability to commit is not your fault. The bad news however is that it is your problem.
While I personally don’t like ultimatums, I also don’t think you can give him unlimited time to figure things out. Instead, I would suggest that you ask him what he is looking for in a partner and why.
If what he is looking for is different than what you are looking for, you have some thinking to do.
You don’t need to make any rash decisions but you should accept him at his word and assume he is not going to change.
If it turns out he is looking for similar things in a partner/relationship as you, then ask him how he will know when he finds that?
Remember that guys are not as good at recognizing or processing how they feel as women are, so you may have to be a little patient with this conversation. If he isn’t sure how he will know let him know how you feel and why?
Without setting an ultimatum you should reinforce what YOU are looking for as this will register with him.
This does not mean he will instantly be ready to commit but it will cause him to think about life without you and this should help him get unstuck.
Larry Blackwell, LCSW, AADC – www.westhartfordholisticcounseling.com
Whether you’re at the beginning of a relationship or years in, wishing for commitment and connection with someone and not feeling those reciprocated can bring up feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, and anger.
When I hear the word commitment, what I hear is a wish for secure attachment and connection.
The psychiatrist John Bowlby researched attachment and found that it is a core human need, akin to water and food.
Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy, further added that when you have secure attachment, you feel safer not only in your relationship, you also feel safer to go out into the world and to take on new challenges.
If you are in a relationship without secure attachment or commitment, the first place I recommend starting is with yourself.
- What does a secure and committed relationship mean to you?
- How would you know if you are in a secure and committed relationship?
- What would you notice about yourself or your relationship if you are both committed to being together?
It is important to understand your own approach to commitment and what you are seeking in your relationship before you approach the person you want to share a commitment with.
Once you’ve reflected on these questions, the next step is to talk with them about what you’re feeling, what you are hoping for, and what you need in the relationship.
If approaching this type of conversation brings up anxiety, reflect on what your hopes and fears are for the conversation.
It can also be helpful to express your nervousness when you begin the conversation, this invites the person you’re approaching into your emotional process and sets an open tone for the discussion.
The goal of this conversation is to invite an open dialogue about what you are both feeling and to gain a deeper understanding of what you both want together.
If after talking through your thoughts and feelings, you still feel unsure about the future of your relationship, consider whether you want to or can tolerate the feelings that come up for you in the absence of a secure attachment or commitment and if this feels like the type of relationship you can sustain and find happiness in.
Whether it’s in this relationship or another in the future, you are worth being valued, accepted, and understood and only you can speak for your needs, boundaries, values, and hopes.
Lauren Skuba, MA, MFTC – www.positivespace-therapy.com
The topic of men not being as willing to commit to relationships as much as women are, seems to be a perennial topic to me.
Of course, there are many exceptions to a general trend. I will not be talking about those men.
The main topic of this piece is what can a woman do if she is in a relationship with a man who is not ready to move on to the next step and commit.
Before we delve any deeper, I am going to define what commitment means to me, as in today’s world it can have many faces and not just putting a ring on it.
What I mean by commitment is that the male partner makes it clear that he is dedicated to his partner and that they are in a secure relationship.
When we commit, we are overtly choosing our partner over and over again every day.
In my work as a psychotherapist, and in my life as a middle -aged woman, I have some theories about why men are more hesitant to commit.
As a society, we are not raising men to be relational.
We have been raising boys to become bread winners and providers. Oftentimes they are robbed of the deep well of what relationships can provide us and their healing potentials.
Boys grow up in a competitive environment where a lot of their energy and focus is around who is the most successful man in their professional or athletic arenas.
No matter what country or what era we live in, we are all wired for connections. We need to feel connected because we are social animals. This creates the conundrum men find themselves in.
The ambiguity men feel to be connected and still have their freedom to live an individual life where they can fulfill their sexual needs and the need to be on top of the pecking order.
I don’t see a paradox between a successful relationship and a successful career, but I think men put a lot more effort into their professional success before they start thinking about their relationship needs.
Now for the question how a woman can best handle a situation when a man is indecisive to move the relationship forward, my answer is pretty straightforward.
I don’t think anybody can make anybody commit or act in ways they really don’t want to. Nobody likes to be controlled or pressured.
My recommendation for the woman is to act from a place of self-respect.
She can request from her man to go to couple counseling so that dysfunctional patterns in the relationship or in each of them can be uncovered and transformed.
The woman at this point needs to do enough soul searching to know how much bandwidth she has to stay while letting her partner know she has limits and that she will be respecting her own limits.
In other words, after finding enough clarity within herself, she will express it to her partner and set a deadline that will act as the boundary necessary for her to both honor herself and the relationship she’s been in.
Clear communication, clear requests and then putting an end to the relationship and moving on if commitment is not taking place is the route I see a grounded woman who knows her own worth will be implementing.
Caroline Sabi, MA, LPC – www.carolinesabi.com
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.