Are You Commitment-Ready?
You’ve been dating for a while, and you feel like it is time to take the relationship to the next level – exclusivity. But are you both truly ready for the long haul? Here are signs to look out for, as well as what it takes to make it work.
By Janice Lin
You’re ready if…
1. You have a realistic idea of what being in a relationship is all about.
It’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Going in with the understanding that you will have differing opinions and disagreements about things will prepare you to deal with or resolve them when these events occur.
2. You let go of your checklist and fully accept your partner for who he/she is.
We’ve all been here before, going into relationships with a list of ideal qualities and deal-breakers when it comes to the perfect partner. It’s important to let go of trivial ideals – like needing your partner to be of a certain height or have a certain occupation. Understanding that not everyone is perfect, and appreciating and valuing your partner for who he or she is will go a long way to making your relationship work.
3. You’re not looking for validation or for someone to “complete” you.
We’re all fed stories in movies about couples who “truly find themselves” when they are in a relationship, but real life rarely works that way. If you think you need a relationship or a partner in order to be “complete”, you’ll always be looking for something you’ll never find. Being happy with who you are and where you are in life lets you open up and give fully to your partner.
4. You have a big picture of your life goals.
Not all of us have our entire lives charted out and meticulously planned, but it is important that both you and your potential mate have a notion of where you are each heading. Is working abroad on the cards for you? This would certainly have an impact on the relationship. Even your thoughts on having children eventually can change dynamics. It is hard to begin a life and move forward with someone who is stuck on his or her personal journey. And knowing that you may be going down potentially similar paths can play a part in sustaining your relationship.
However, it’s okay if you don’t have an absolutely clear idea of what you want out of a serious relationship. Much of being with another person is about discovering oneself and how you fit into a partnership – and through that, discover what it is that you want out of it.
How to tell if your potential partner is ready to commit?
He or she expresses a willingness to talk about it. People who are afraid of commitment tend to steer clear of any conversation that veers towards relationships. Conversely, someone who is open to exclusivity will be able to talk about it and discuss exploring a deeper connection with you.
It may be daunting to ask another person about where the both of you stand, but having a conversation about it is key to avoiding the kind of miscommunication that arises when one partner feels more committed to the other, when neither party made it clear where they saw the relationship heading in the first place.
Give and take
Moving from casual dating to something more serious can change the relationship dynamics. Where once it was about having fun and doing light-hearted activities together, now there can be added expectations, like your partner wanting you to be there for him or her after a rough day at work, for example.
Again, it is important to communicate and set out expectations appropriately. Author and life coach Tony Robbins sums it up nicely: “Communication in relationships, at its core, is about connecting and using your verbal, written and physical skills to fulfil your partner’s needs.”
Let the other person know what you need and what you do not want them to do, and encourage him or her to do the same. If there’s something specific that annoys you, have a conversation about it. What you have is a partnership, so work with your partner. The both of you must be sufficiently invested in your relationship in order to make it work.
Ask anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and they would tell you it’s not always a walk in the park. But knowing that you and your potential mate are ready for the next step, and understanding how to talk to each other and being sensible about expectations will help the relationship go the long haul.