How do you know when you want to make dating more serious?

bexybot asks: 

I recently (i.e. 2-3 months ago), started seeing someone casually and things are going really well. No commitment yet, but definitely more intent than just friends with benefits. He’s stayed over a few times and it definitely seems to be heading in an “official relationship” type of direction.

When we’re together I’m really happy and I love spending time with him. I’ve even started to abstractly think about what it would be like if I met his family. However, when he’s not around I start to doubt whether I really want to be in a relationship with him or not.

It has nothing to do with him, but more about my reluctance to share my personal space and time. I’m introverted and I live alone so my apartment/alone time is very important to me. Also, I don’t know if it’s relevant but I was raped 2 years ago and though I’m very well recovered on a personal level, this is my first real potential relationship post-trauma. All my other dating in the past two years ended after a month or two, so it’s weird being in something that isn’t going sour by now. After a lot of personal/social issues that stemmed from the incident, I’m finally comfortable and in a good place– I’m wary of putting that stability in jeopardy.

On the other end of the spectrum though, I don’t NOT want to see him. He makes me happy, listens to me, and is very attentive. I don’t want it to end.

How do you know you want to be in a relationship? When does it feel right as opposed to “run away!” scary? Should I just end it now as to not drag him into my mess?

Okay, this is a lot to think about but first I want to get this out-of-the-way. If you haven’t already, I really, truly hope that you’ve sought out mental health counseling. I can only imagine the trauma that being raped can cause and I encourage you, whether you think you’re okay right now or not to seek out someone to talk to professionally if you haven’t already. I really do wish you the best of luck with resolving any issues you have stemming from the incident.

For your actual questions, let’s lay them out:

1. How do you know you want to be in a relationship?

2. When does it feel right, as opposed to “run away!” scary?

3. Should I just end it now as to not drag him into my mess?

When it comes to the question #1, sadly it’s one of those things where you need to figure it out yourself. Now if you’re looking for a way to figure it out, it always helps to put things in perspective I’ve got some tips. First, try to imagine an ideal relationship.Think of the logistics of this hypothetical relationship: how often would you see each other versus how much free time, what sort of dating would you like to do (i.e. are you going to be a couple who goes out for cocktails every week or the Netflix on the sofa sort of couple). Try to think of what this ideal relationships looks like, and if you can picture it with the guy you’re dating. If your ideal relationship involves you being single, well that’s your answer. It’s possible that your ideal relationship is one where you have a lot of free time when you need it. Whatever it is, just imagine it with this guy and if the idea alone isn’t too abhorrent to you, well that’s a start. I don’t think anyone with commitment issues ever really knows when it’s the right time to start a relationship and chances are that you’ll never be 100% on board, so don’t worry if you’re 50% to 75% on board. Relationships can be learning experiences and if you get into it and realize that being in a committed relationship just isn’t for you, be honest and end it. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

For some people it feels right immediately, and for other people they have a run away feeling pretty much all the time. I’ll admit that I’ve definitely gone through some commitment issues in the past and the “run away” feeling took a very long time for me to learn to accept and get over. It’s possible that you’ll always have that feeling, so don’t focus too much on the “when will it stop” because it might never stop. Of course, just because you have the feeling doesn’t mean you need to act upon it. You can have that “run away” feeling entering into the relationship. Remember, a relationship isn’t a marriage. You don’t have to commit for the long haul, you can figure things out as you go.

Should you preemptively end things? Of course not. What you should do is have an open dialog about your feelings and your fears with this guy. I know it can be incredibly uncomfortable to put yourself out there, but it’s absolutely something you need to do PLUS it will make your decision a whole lot easier. If you followed my advice by imagining your hypothetical relationship and tell your guy about it and he’s okay with it, well, I say take the risk. If he’s not okay with it, well your decision is made for you.

Finally, I just want to close by saying ultimately you need to decide if you want to be in a relationship. No one can ever tell you you’re ready, or allay any fears you might have. Make sure that you’re in a good space to enter into a relationship if you do, just know that being in a relationship isn’t something you HAVE to do.

Good Luck Out There. (and I’ve never meant that more than I do today)

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