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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Mutual Commitment

In the dating world, after a length of time, and sometimes sooner than anticipated, the issue of "commitment" comes into play. For most every single person, eventually, whether or not they are interested in it, the “c” word emerges for discussion, on some level. And if it is not readily addressed verbally, thoughts surrounding it will undoubtedly surface, either for one or both parties.

The reality is that things rarely stay “the same,” in any state of being. And nowhere does this ring more true than with interpersonal relationships. What also holds true, is that rarely are both parties at the exact same place in terms of commitment within a relationship, either. Usually, unless both people had the same goal from the beginning, one party is not contemplating commitment, while the other may be. Even if both parties within a dating situation is not at the serious commitment level, it is usually the case that it will at least be thought about, at some point, by at least one person.


Ambiguity in any relationship can cause issues for one or both parties. Therefore, it is important that communication remains clear enough between people, so that one or more of the parties does not wind up getting hurt.

As delicate as the issue of commitment is in any relationship, no one is doing themselves or the other party any favors, by acting as though it doesn’t matter, when it actually does. And while it may be difficult, uncomfortable or even unpleasant to discuss it, the issue should, at some point, be addressed, if only to clarify where each person stands. It only makes sense that no matter where one is in a relationship, the future of anything, either progresses or doesn’t – so having clarity on the issue, is essential, in order to keep harmony within the situation, whatever it may be.

For example, if someone has specific goals in mind for a relationship, that person owes it to themselves to be realistic in the goal, by being aware of it, and being honest about what potential partners really have to offer. Trying to get people to change their minds or manipulate them into a place that the other may like them to be, rarely ever works. This is why, it is so important to clarify what it is that is really desired, while going about the dating process.

The reality is that just being attracted to someone, and liking to be around them, is usually not enough to create a lasting union. If only it were – but countless examples could be inserted here to make that case, from life itself, books, music, film, and even reality television.

The fact that our social standing on the issue of interpersonal romantic relationships has evolved and changed so rapidly in the last century, really doesn’t help matters, either. It would almost seem that the whole advent of “commitment phobia,” the buzzword that seems to dominate many talk shows today, has almost been predicated on cultural events such as the sexual revolution and women’s liberation. While women have progressed a great deal since the 1950s, their responsibility as breadwinners and independent individuals has grown, as well. What that has brought us, is much more variety, in terms of what kinds of relationships are available to us today.

For example, it is no longer necessary, for the most part, that a marriage exist, in order for a couple to be considered legitimate, at least on a social standing, by our society. Granted, certain amenities such as medical insurance, and governmental tax benefits have yet to be offered to domestic partnership participants on a consistent basis in our society.

However, even in a smaller town social setting, while it may not be the “norm,” people at least appear to at least be aware of various types of “coupledom.” Regardless on where one stands politically on the issue, it only seems to make sense that the government should not be dictating whom people choose to love, date or spend time with, as long as each party involved is of legal age, and consent. Morality issues, unless laws are broken, are usually better handled by the clergy, or whatever moral code one chooses to live by.

Suffice it to say, that the best form of commitment, within an interpersonal relationship, is the “mutual” kind. That is, the kind that involves both parties, cognizant of what it is they desire in their life, with each willing to provide whatever that may be. As simplistic as that endeavor may sound, it is often much more difficult to engage that hope than it would appear. But as long as we make the most honest effort that we can, to embrace the truth about ourselves, know who we are, what we are about, what we want, and, most importantly, what our purposes are in life, there is a great chance that we can, in fact, strive to make the very best and most proper decisions with regard to our relationships. In this way, we can progress toward our futures with clarity, and thus, fulfill our interpersonal relationship desires, whatever they may happen to be.

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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