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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating From the Inside Out > 07

Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Approaching Commitment

Anyone who is "dating" knows that after a time, the issue of "commitment" surfaces. Sometimes the issue appears sooner than later, given the fast-paced world we live in. The issue of commitment probably arises basically due to the fact that the natural precedent in life is that things either get better or worse. Rarely does anything just “stay the same.” It could be that a casual relationship stays steady for quite some time, remaining even with little or no change. But even the most casual of involvements will probably develop either a positive or negative progression pattern. That seems to just be the nature of the universe.

While the ideal is that both parties in a relationship feel ready for a commitment simultaneously, the reality is that in many situations, that is not the case. For example, you may have been dating someone for a while and feel ready to dedicate yourself to them, but don’t get that sense from he or she. It could be that you are receiving mixed messages from them with regard to the track the relationship may be on.

The only sure-fire way to clear up confusion is to discuss it. While this may be uncomfortable, it is essential that you do this for yourself, if you really feel it is time to make a decision with regard to your future with that person. Not doing it could cause unnecessary resentment and jealousy down the line.

The easiest way to tackle the "commitment" quandary is to ask very simple questions. If the person you've been seeing hasn’t so indicated, you could ask: "How do you feel about me?" If the response to that question is positive, and you feel it is appropriate, you could then ask: "What does our relationship mean to you?" "Do you see our relationship as exclusive?" You may be surprised at the answers you get. Many people assume that because a certain length of time has passed that the person they are involved with feels the same way that they do, when, in reality, nothing could be more further from the truth. Assuming anything in a relationship, unless it is stated clearly, is often disastrous in the long run.

The reality is that unless you are specific in what your desires are from the beginning, people are often clueless as to what you expect. That is why communication is really more important than any other component in most relationships. Without it, any level of passion or fun can be completely negated. Misunderstandings can cause nearly irreparable harm to relationships and the only way to combat this is by very clear, concise, specific communication that is understood by both parties at all times.

If you get ambiguous answers to your questions, you may also feel it appropriate to pointedly ask such a question as “Do you love me?” If the answer to that question is positive, you can then proceed to “Are you ready for a committed relationship? Where do you see us six months down the line? How about one year from now? Do you see me in your future three years from now?”

It is assumed that before you get to the above point, you have discussed your dreams, goals, lifestyles, hobbies, finances, religious and political beliefs, and whether or not you desire children. Surprisingly, many people haven’t had those discussions, and, therefore, it probably isn’t appropriate to broach the subject of commitment just yet.

Often, you can determine if it is even worth your while to contemplate a commitment with someone, simply by finding out what kind of life they desire through the kinds of discussions that serve as an investigative process. That will save you the trouble of confronting the commitment issue as you determine whether or not you are truly compatible. Think of the information gathering stage as “relationship disaster prevention.” Like most things in life, it’s easier to “do it right” from the beginning than to have to fix something. And human relationships, like the psyche, are very delicate. Therefore, “fixing” something isn’t as easy as fixing a car that you’ve neglected. Even cars, if you neglect them long enough, have to be replaced. Relationships are no different.

As most people know, compatibility is not just about having fun. Enjoying the same activities, laughing at the same jokes, liking the same movies and music is all fine and good, but there really are many levels to compatibility. True compatibility is really about intentions. This is why, many couples who, on the surface, appear opposite, have great relationships. They balance each other out, which is sometimes more important in a relationship than sameness. In fact, opposites can often be much more dynamic in terms of success, and far more potently interesting in the long run. What one person brings to the relationship is opposite to the other and together, they form a union that is much more comprehensive, especially if they intend to have children, which can form a fruitful foundation for the entire family.

It is equally important not to take rejections and bad experiences too personally or see another's behavior as a judgment or reflection on them. Particularly in the beginning, anyone involved with someone on whatever level is "allowed" to let go of a relationship that is not working out.

Letting go is not only the courageous thing to do, it is also the right thing to do. Otherwise you are settling for less in your life and you are ultimately doing no favors to the person you stay with merely out of an imagined sense of duty or because it’s too painful to confront leaving. Realize that respect involves the dignity of truth, and no matter how difficult it is, be honest with yourself, your intentions, and be aware of what other’s intentions are compared to your own. This is the only way that you can honestly find the person you should be with. To do anything less is not based upon truth and not only can hurt you, but someone else who doesn’t deserve to be hurt.

If finding a soul mate is truly your goal, you owe it to yourself to take the time to be diligent about your information gathering. It’s easy to “fall” for someone, and can be fun. But it’s always important, if your goal is long-term, to keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t be afraid to be honest with people along the way. Being honorable and above-board will most likely ensure that you will receive the same type of treatment from other people. Call it Karma, if you will, but realize that the more successful people develop relationships of all types by being honest and forthright, which usually bears the best that life has to offer, on all levels. As many have said in the past, behind every good man or woman, is an equally good life-partner.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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