Olivia J. Scott, Senior Writer, Life And Things Between
You swear you’re in a loving, caring, and committed relationship, only to discover you’re actually dating someone with commitment phobia. Feeling dejected, you now have to figure out a way to resolve the situation, without hurting yourself or your partner in the process.
What really is an uncommitted relationship?
Whether you live together or apart, you can wind up in an uncommitted relationship without realizing it. An uncommitted relationship is essentially one in which your partner is inconsistent in his/her feelings and behavior towards you. This often leaves you feeling confused about his/her intention and feelings towards you and the relationship. A clear indication is where the other party says, “I really don’t know what I want,” or “I’m not sure if I want to be in or continue the relationship with you.” The uncommitted partner is usually unwilling to deal with the challenges of the relationship. He/she usually lack the “I will do whatever it takes to make this relationship work” mentality.
Due to no fault of ours, we may fail to recognize the difference between a committed and an uncommitted relationship. Perhaps because we are focused so much on being with the person, we overlook significant indicators that our relationship is one that lacks commitment. Our own acceptance of the status quo often encourages partners to take the relationship for granted.
“Hookups” and the wide acceptance of uncommitted sexual encounters pave the way for a culture of uncommitted relationships to develop. Female liberation, sexual freedom, and ideas perpetuated by the media on modern approach to sex and relationships also contribute to the redefinition of legitimate relationships which usually have “commitment” as a cornerstone. As such, we wind up finding more partners who prefer to keep things casual. “Hey, if I can get the benefits, without the burdens, why worry about being committed?” is often the mindset of those who are unwilling to commit.
Mindsets such as this continuously forge the proliferation of the “No Strings Attached” the Friends With Benefits,” and the “Open Relationship” type of romantic encounters. These modern day casual trysts trample on the sanctity of traditional relationships where dating and romance are done with intention to commit.
Once you recognized you’re in an uncommitted relationship, you have to decide whether (a) to accept, stay, and deal with it for what it is, or (b) end it altogether and pursue the true, loving, caring secure, and committed relationship you deserve. If you decide to stay, you should be prepared to deal with the following common behaviors from your partner: Expect him/her to:
1. Want only the good parts of the relationship, i.e., sex, love and affection, and security (physical, emotional, financial) without the intention of returning the same to you. He or she may demand these values to suit his or her needs at his or her own time. (Be ever mindful that pregnancy in an uncommitted relationship is devastating).
2. Want to keep options open to dating other people, in order to determine which one of you he/she wants to settle down with. It is also common for an uncommitted partner to suggest you both date other partners.
3. Disregard your feelings, and may likely hurt you intentionally or not. If you complain about getting your feelings hurt he/she may tell you they have already made their uncommitted position clear to you. So you are essentially proceeding at your own risk!
4. Avoid establishing joint assets or finances.
5. Refuse to take the relationship to another level, whether it is cohabiting, getting engaged, getting married, or having children.
Ending the relationship
If you decide to end the relationship, good for you. Here are a few tips to guide you:
1. Without blaming your partner, let him/her know that you are not happy and that your needs in the relationship are not being met.
2. Be patient. Give your partner a chance and enough time to prove that he/she wants to stay in your life and is willing to commit. This is critical, as some partners may not realize the destruction they cause by being uncommitted. They may in fact want to commit, but are afraid or unsure of how to do so.
The amount of time you give your partner to become committed depends on how long you’re willing to wait. Perhaps a period of three to six months is reasonable. Just remember the transition may be gradual, especially if your partner has serious fears and insecurities about commitment.
3. Avoid pressuring him/her to confirm to your needs, as this can push your partner further away. Instead, try to remain positive and spend as much quality time together as you can to keep the relationship balanced at this critical time.
4. Once enough time has elapsed, reassess the relationship and then determine whether there are positive changes and greater commitment from your partner. If not, and you decide it’s time to end the relationship, then by all means, do so.
5. Be careful to end it in a mature and amicable manner. Firstly, thank your partner for making the effort to commit. Secondly, explain that your needs are not being met to your expectations, and so you’re calling it quits, because you both deserve to be in a happy and satisfying relationship.
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