Just a few years ago, I would have been writing this article primarily for women, helping them to sort out those men who might be worth investing in and those who were apparently not ready for any kind of a commitment.
In today’s dating world, in sharp contrast, many of my male patients are increasingly meeting women who are not ready to commit to a long-term relationship.
Where, not too long ago, it was common to be spoken for in their early twenties, many women today are far more interested in living life unencumbered, seeking careers that can support them as single people, and comfortably waiting to partner-up or have children well into their thirties.
As a result, the long-held belief, that it is the nature of men to be more wary of entrapment and the nature of women to seek security, protection, and support, is no longer the established norm.
Yet, it is understandable that both genders still need to know how to evaluate the commitment-readiness of a potential partner early in the dating game.
There isn’t usually a problem when both relationship seekers are on the same page. If both partners, for example, are into enjoying a current relationship without attachment to outcome and neither is worried about the future, they can just have a good time with no strings attached. The same principle can be applied to two people who are ready to commit when they find the right person. They may not choose each other, but their attitudes towards getting serious are similar.
The issue gets complicated when one person is ready to find “the one,” and the other is either not there yet, or doesn’t feel reciprocal feelings in the current relationship.
Since many new partnerships are generally exciting, it can be very difficult to ascertain early on whether they may blossom into “true love.” If a person doesn’t mind an erratic ride, he or she can delve more deeply, risk more, and learn how to attach and detach without resentment or sadness. If, on the other hand, that person is tired of sequential failures and truly ready to find a quality relationship, wasting time in sure-to-dissolve relationships is no longer a desirable option.
So what are the ways a long-term, intimate relationship seeker can maximize his or her odds without appearing needing or too controlling?
The most important part of that process is the authentic and open way you go about letting the other person know who you are, what you are looking for, and what you have to offer. Before you can do that, you have to know what those answers are.
When you look at new prospects with the idea of permanent connection in mind, you should have clear and concise answers to the following questions:
1. Do you know why you are now ready to commit and what is currently motivating you.
Make certain you are not just scared to be alone anymore, desperate to be connected, insecure about your future, or are worried that too much time has passed and you have to hurry to act?
2. Are you feeling a sincere desire to create a great relationship, open to the blending from “I” to “We” that requires?
If you’ve been single for a long time, you will have created habits that allow you to be first in your own choices, searching for your own dreams and goals, and having the right to distribute your own resources of time, energy, money, and love without worrying about neglecting another. You can’t come into a new relationship with your own script, looking for someone to memorize the lines.
3. Have you learned the necessary skills that effective communication requires?
There are multiple sources to learn these crucial skills. Learning, for instance, the difference between an argument and a genuine search for truth. Or, knowing that compromise starts from each partner fighting for the other side. How to present an idea without triggering defensiveness. Knowing how and when to approach someone for the best outcome. (See my eBook, “The Art of Translation.”)
4. Have you resolved any past traumatic issues that would signal cynicism to another?
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone looking for a quality relationship, do not search for that if the person on the other end of you dislikes their prior partners or is bitter about other relationships? You would then have to prove by your actions that you are not like the villains from the past. You would eventually slip and the trapdoor awaits. The same criteria apply to you.
5. Is your heart still open to possibilities even if you have been wounded in past interactions?
The past is for lessons, the present for experience, and the future for dreams. Unless you have deeply understood how past relationships have affected you and have resolved any left-over issues, your past will define what you look for in the future. Be aware of attracting rescuers who will want to “heal” you from past hurts. There is a price for everything and it will eventually emerge.
6. Are you realistic in terms of your own marketability and the realistic options that you have?
Many people strive for relationship partners above what they can realistically attract. Knowing what you have to offer and what kind of a partner would find those qualities special and treasurable is an amazingly mature quality. It doesn’t mean “settling” for a partner you do not feel proud of or can respect and love. It just means knowing how emotional puzzle pieces fit well together and not expecting that a round peg will ever fit easily into a square hole.
7. Are you in the best shape you can be, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually?
Being truly ready to give the best of you to the best you can find means you feel your best and look your best. Confidence comes from knowing that you are out there giving the most wonderful parts of you.
8. Do you truly know the kind of person you are looking for?
That doesn’t just mean attractive physically, though that is, of course, necessary. But, what does that person believe in, what does he or she want out of a relationship, what dreams would you need to share, are you compatible sexually, can you have productive conflict resolution with that person, will he or she be there in times of stress, who are his “tribe,” how has he or she faced sorrow and how have those losses been resolved, and do you believe in the same spiritual process? This list is not even exhausted, but important to stimulate any other crucial issues you may need to look at.
These are some of the most important and crucial aspects that you should consider when you are truly searching for a quality long-term relationship. If you know them well within yourself, you will know exactly how to recognize them in the people you are exploring.
Here are some interesting articles on Psychology Today Internet Blogs that will help you look at some of the particulars.
10 Questions to Help Tell you if you’re ready to Commit
Is This True Love?
10 Important Questions you should ask a Potential Partner
The Most Important Quality of an Intimate Partner
Match Who – Crucial Aspects of a Potential Partner
Touch and Go Relationships – Do they have to be Superficial?
Should I Date this Person Again?
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
He Says “I Love You”… But does he really mean it?
This 7 question quiz tells you if your man truly loves you or if he is just using you…
You’ve been around the block a few times, and maybe a few more times than you’d care to admit.
You are looking to get serious and be in a long-term relationship. Maybe you even know you specifically want to be partnered up for life or married. You are tired of wasting time on people who are just playing the field and don’t want to settle down. How do you find out if you and your guy want the same thing in a relationship?
There’s never a guarantee that any relationship will turn out how we had hoped.
It can start off going well and taper off to nothing or start off slow and move into exactly what you’re looking for. There is no special formula. However, the best way to find out if you are both on the same page is to have a conversation about where you see the relationship going. Find out what he wants in a relationship and see how it matches up with what you’re looking for. Listen to how he talks about you when you are with him and when he’s talking to his friends. If he is including you in long-term plans, he’s assuming you’ll be around, so it’s pretty obvious that he plans to be around.
It’s uncomfortable sometimes to be vulnerable about what you want, but if you are going to have a future together, it’s never too early to start planning it.
And if it involves both of you, it’s always a good idea to do this together instead of hoping he wants what you want and finding out later that isn’t the case at all.
Depending on where he feels the relationship is at or where he thinks it’s going, he may not have an immediate answer when you start talking about these things, so give him time to think about what he wants. Pressure never helps anyone make good decisions. Let him present his own ideas and his own time line and you can compare yours with his. There may be some room to compromise, or you may find that he’s simply not the one for you right now.
In my experience, men are just as likely to know when they want to get real about relationships and commit and settle down as women are, we might just not always be on the same schedule. Once you have good information, you can make a good decision about whether he’s right for you or a waste of your time. Good luck!
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
I think there comes a point in a woman’s life when she’s ready to get serious. At this point it makes sense to begin to separate “the wheat from the chaff”, so to speak. While a man may be perfectly acceptable as a companion, it doesn’t mean that he is husband or father material.
Being able to tell the difference between someone who can join you in a committed relationship, and someone who can’t is really important.
Whereas before, when the goals were less serious, you were evaluating if you and he were compatible. You needed to know if he was basically trustworthy and shared enough of your values for you to be able to enjoy each other’s company.
All of those criteria still apply, but they are only the start. If you are planning to share your life with someone you need to know a lot more about him. How does he manage money? How important is religion or politics to him? Does he want children, and if so, when and how many? How open is he to your extended family and you to his? How much do you or he care about housekeeping? Is he messy? Are you? Does he like pets? How does he deal with conflict?
The first thing you have to do is take your own inventory.
You really need to know yourself in order to be able to realistically assess the viability of a potential relationship. And you can’t fudge. You can’t pretend that something that isn’t important to you if it is. If you are a dog person and he doesn’t like dogs, you need to acknowledge that difference and think about whether you can live with that.
Small differences can tank a relationship just as easily as big ones.
You can’t think about how you would like to feel; you must be honest about how you do feel. And never, ever think that you can change him!
I don’t think it usually works well to start off with, “I want to get married and have kids so if you don’t tell me now”. That could be a little off-putting! That conversation needs to wait until you have established that the basics of your compatibility are sound. If you aren’t compatible, why even go there? On the other hand, you can’t wait too long time or one or the other of you may be so involved that breaking it off is too painful. That’s when you start lying to yourself. It’s the road to disaster.
Being honest is always the best policy.
When you feel that there is a possibility for a future together, start having the talk. If he shies away, he’s probably not going to be the one for you. Sometimes it’s just timing, but that’s in an important factor. Don’t push, but don’t back off either. Most people, at some point, want to be in a committed relationship. Let him know that that’s what you are looking for and let him tell you if that’s what he is looking for too.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com