A Reader Asks:
I have been dating a guy for the past seven months. While he is very ready for marriage and I know that he is eager to propose in the near future, I’m not ready!
He is wonderful in many ways and our relationship is strong. However, there are things that bother me about the relationship, yet not enough to break it off. I think we are in a good place and don’t feel the immediate need to move to the next stage. I don’t want to hurt him, yet I’m not sure how to get over my fear, anxiety, and lack of clarity. I’m not ready to accept a proposal and not ready to break up. Any advice?
Dating Coach Rachel Burnham Responds:
I feel your struggle. Many people in your position want to hold on to that comfortable dating dynamic and maintain “the good times” as long as possible.
The reality is, dating is a process in constant motion, either bringing us closer to or further from the goal of marriage. If your significant other wants to be in a committed relationship and you can’t provide that, he will find eventually walk away to find someone who can.
One may realize that their partner has a strong potential to be the right one, yet they just can’t “pull the trigger.” Often, this is due to anxiety or trauma stemming from bad dating experiences, marriage difficulties in one’s own family, or low self-esteem.
Here are five tips to help overcome commitment fears:
1. Get into a calm and relaxed headspace. Healthy decisions are best made when we are calm and free from pressure or stress. Get yourself to a happy place — such as your favorite coffee shop — that will give you the peace of mind and clarity to do some deep soul searching and heavy-duty thinking.
2. Imagine life without this person. Imagine how you would feel if your best friend married him. Would it hurt? Would it mean anything to you if he walked away? While not foolproof, this exercise can be a real eye opener.
3. Don’t feel pressure to make a decision based on societal norms. Every person is different and requires a different length of time to arrive at clarity. On the other hand, if you’ve achieved clarity, more time won’t change anything. It will only cause the courtship to go stale. Strike while the iron is hot, don’t wait until things burn out.
4. Ask yourself: Am I stuck in a routine? You may be comfortable with your job, city, friends, etc. and don’t want to change your life. If you are young, this may be a sign that you’re not ready for marriage. If that’s the case, get out of the game until you’re ready. If you are older, don’t assume that the unmarried life will satisfy you long term. Plan for your future. The best time to marry is sooner, not later.
5. Seek help. Don’t be too shy or proud to ask for help. You may need to work with a professional — a therapist or dating coach — to get to the root of your fears, anxieties, and traumas so that you can move forward. Marriage will not fix your problems. Taking ownership of problems is not only good for dating, it’s a critical skill for marriage.
Ultimately, the decision about marriage is yours. We all have the free will to ruin or take a great, yet imperfect opportunity. We also all have the ability to convince and rationalize why it was okay to walk away from a great relationship. Sometimes saying “no” is the easier, but not the right, answer.
Looking for the right “one” is important, but it won’t solve internal struggles. You are the only one who can change yourself. With calmness of mind and clarity of soul may you find the shortest distance to your longest relationship.
Read more at d8gr8.com/commitment.
By Rachel Burnham