If you can’t tell, I am a fan favorite of everything relationship. I’ve had my fair share of them and, if I can’t call them anything else, I can definitely say that they were learning experiences.
And I mean that in the figurative, literal, and comical sense.
We engage in many relationships over the course of our lifetime. I’m not going to ask anyone to personally count theirs because this post is not that long and some of you are very VERY friendly people. But, think about it. How many of us can honestly say that our relationships have taught us something valuable about ourselves? Can you look back and pinpoint those defining A-ha moments?
Of the many things that my memory can replay, one of the most dominating stances was commitment. When you think of commitment, you might think of it as a one directional play. For example, when you have a job your obligation is to do your work so that you can keep the job. That’s your commitment, right? Well, that’s just one of the directions you follow to remain compliant.
There’s way more to it than that! Yes, you make sure your job is done but you also have to commit to getting there on time, you have to meet deadlines and maintain an open line of communication with coworkers and your superiors. At home, you need to make sure you get sufficient sleep (most of the time). You have to make sure that you have the proper work attire so that may mean doing laundry and/or going shopping. All of these actions are a part of your commitment to that one thing. Your job.
Guess what? Relationship commitment is not much different. In fact, it may be a little more tedious!
So, what’s the problem with commitment?
Many people don’t realize that there are levels to commitment:
- The beginning stage
- The acknowledgment of exclusivity stage
- The appreciation stage
- The expectation stage and
- The realization stage
Each of these levels need to be in sync with the relationship that is trying to be built and maintained. As we grow and change our levels of commitment may remain the same but the expectations of how they need to be fulfilled modifies.
Don’t get it?
Think of it like this. When we were in high school, our high school sweethearts did everything they could think of to impress us in the beginning. They acknowledged our union verbally or by showing public displays of affection and showered us with little things that turned us into Cheshire cats. We expected nothing more and that’s what we got.
I remember being given a jacket to wear. He would pick me up for school in the morning – meaning meet me at the train station – and we would ride together to school. We would stop for breakfast – at a Bodega – and get a bacon egg and cheese on a roll (gotta love NYC) that we would share. It was the cutest thing and we were content. We didn’t need anything else. At that time we weren’t burdened by the pangs of adulthood.
Now, fast forward to today. Would your levels of commitment be satisfied with just a jacket, train ride, and half of a sandwich?
When we change our expectations change because our needs are different. Do you get it now? GREAT!
…. BUT, first things first.
There are some very important things that need to be in place before you embark on committing to the love of your life. You may have heard this saying before: Make sure YOUR house is in order- and NO, I am not talking about washing the dishes and vacuuming the carpet. Before you decide to commit to someone else:
- You must commit to yourself. Now, seriously, how do you expect a relationship with someone else to work if the relationship you have with yourself is choppy?
- Don’t forget who you are. It’s not fun (for you) to get to a point in, not only your relationship but also your life, when you don’t recognize who a major contributor is. YOU! If you have to undergo a personal cosmetic surgery to make someone else happy, chances are that relationship does not deserve your committment.
- Don’t rush it. Take the time to get to know your partner. Being able to stay committed also means understanding your significant other.
- Be ready to meet your partner half way but be capable of going the distance solo… for two. No relationship is 50/50 and you can expect that there will be times where one of you is down and almost completely out. That’s where strength, determination and love needs to show up and show out!!
- Do you really want to be in a relationship? Ask yourself if you truly want the responsibilities of dating in the capacity of commitment. Are you willing to put in the time and effort required to make it work. If you have other pressing obligations that you are devoted to that do not welcome the constraints of a relationship, commitment may not be right for you at this time. Wait until you have settled all prior obligations before you begin another.