Q: I have been seeing this great guy for 8 months and he is still reluctant to say we are exclusive or boyfriend/girlfriend. He says we are dating, but does not want to rush things. I am getting frustrated like I am just the "waiting period" until something "better" comes along. What should I do?
A: In order to come up with relationship advice that works best for you, we first need to discuss your mindset.
Have you ever said, believed or done something so many times that, even though it wasn't at all what you wanted, it happened anyway? Whether you call it the Law of Attraction or the power of self-talk, the end result remains the same: what you believe, you achieve.
I don't doubt that you feel the man you are dating is biding his time with you or afraid of commitment. But unless he's actually said these words to you (and frankly, if he has, it's time for you to move on anyway) you need to remove them from your train of thought.
A man who is afraid of commitment can be leery of jumping into something for many reasons: his last relationship threw him for a loop, he's dating other people, he's trying to make a decision about where he wants the relationship to go, cultural differences, the two of you haven't shared many dates together despite having dated for eight months (i.e. you've only managed to see each other once or twice a month since meeting) or he's plain just not ready to commit. Other reasons may apply to your bloke, but there's no way for me to tell based on the information you've provided.
But me knowing his reasons doesn't change what you need to do, which first and foremost is framing what's going on in a much more positive light. What reasons can you come up with that are good, positive, and supportive to the kind of relationship you want?
Now that's not to say you should ignore any red flags, either. Do you know if he is dating or involved with anyone else? If the two of you have had sex, are you the only person he's being intimate with? Does he have a history of being afraid of commitment? Do you think he's hiding something from you that could prove crucial to the success of your relationship? If so, it is time for the two of you to calmly discuss what's up. No need to accuse him of anything or fight about it; just be matter-of-fact. This is your health and personal well being at risk. Should your guy decide to not answer or be vague, you need to seriously consider severing ties.
If however you feel that the only thing missing from your relationship is a commitment, here are some suggestions:
- If the man you are dating isn't aware already that you desire a long term, committed relationship - let him know casually. Once. Do not harp on it, bring it up every time you see each other, or even talk about other couples and how they weren't afraid to commit by the eight month mark. He'll hear you the first time, and will discuss it with you if and when he's ready. The more you mention it, the longer it'll take - and the day may never come if you bring up him allegedly being afraid of commitment too much.
- Pick up a copy of Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others, by John T. Molloy. In it you'll read about the specific qualities that make a woman more appealing to commit to. Most are easily adopted without losing who you are.
- If the two of you aren't exclusive and he refuses to consider the two of you as such, start dating other people. Not only will dating others give you a break from thinking about why your guy is afraid of commitment, but it'll also help him to understand that without a commitment, the two of you are free to date whomever you please. This isn't an ultimatum however, nor is it meant to be manipulative. The book The Four Man Plan by Cindy Lu explains this concept exceptionally well.
- Take some extra time nurturing your friendships, hobbies and interests, and schedule some pampering time alone to boot. Some men need to know that you have a life outside of your interactions with them in order to diffuse their being afraid of commitment, (i.e. he needs some space to decide what the next step is - Is He Still Interested? is a good example). Worst case scenario? You've spent some energy on doing the things you love, surrounded by the people who care for you most, which will only fuel your self-esteem and assist you with removing the negative self-talk from your lexicon permanently.
Ask Bonny is a relationship advice column that focuses on dating issues. If you have a question that relates to the dating community, please fill out this dating advice submission form.