We all eventually get to that point after dating a person for a while when you have “the talk.” I’m referring to that step of commitment when you decide to date that person exclusively. I’m writing about this because I think that talk is changing and people are much more forthcoming about what they want even before getting to know that person. I’ve noticed several trends in Vancouver that pertains to this.
The first trend is this: “I just want to put it out there that I’m not necessarily into a relationship. I have a lot going on and I simply can’t commit the time for a girlfriend/boyfriend.”
The second is an oldie but a goodie: “I was really hurt in my last relationship so I’m still getting over things,” or “My last relationship was so crazy I’m can’t emotionally commit right now.”
There’s something to be said about being honest. You should never mislead anyone with what you can give to a relationship. However, it’s like signing up for a competitive sports team when you can’t play. It leaves you feeling short changed and wondering what you are doing in the dating scene if you’re not looking for the relationship to go anywhere.
Everyone has past relationships that have left them wondering if they can really step into another commitment. Staying in that place of hurt longer than you need to be can hurt your ability to engage in future relationships. I always recommend working on acceptance rather than trying to figure out why the other person ended things with you. It’s important to start creating good relationships because only when you have a good contrast of a healthy relationship against what you had can you truly see where you need to be. Until then, all you are left with is broken memories that will soon look rosier than they actually were.
We also fear the failure of marriage, the pain of heartbreak and what we lose when we commit. The world does not wait for us to be ready to be in a relationship before sending the right partner. We all have busy lives and priorities whether we are single or married. The magic of the right connection is what makes relationships so interesting. When you meet someone you connect with and truly stay open to it you will somehow find a small margin of time to connect with them. When I ask busy couples how they maintain their relationships with a busy schedule they often tell me that the small moments with their partner are the moments they hang on to.
Our anxiety can create barriers and biases, which prevents us from seeing great potential partners. Many people fear that they will fall short of their partner’s expectations especially when it appears the other person may be a worthy catch. It’s an illusion to assume that relationships should be perfectly equal. In most cases, couples help each other grow and successful relationships are conducive of growth together.
If we fear the consequences of falling in love we will never truly live. We are limiting ourselves to the possibility that someone may take us to places we have yet to experience. A broken heart can either be a chance for a new beginning or a place of self-doubt. You have the choice and power to see which end of the spectrum you choose to invest your time. Imagine if we were so fearful that we weren’t able to cross the street or go outside. You are powerless when you are consumed by fear.
Mistakes have a bad wrap. We are socialized to make as few mistakes as possible, so we safeguard our lives and our heart. The rewards of a good relationship will usually outweigh the loss. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, be brave and as my mother use to say, “It’s part of life to make mistakes. That’s why they put erasers on pencils.”
Amy Yew is a researcher and therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.