Why I Don’t Pressure Men For a Commitment
I have to start by saying this could go one of two ways. Not pushing a man that you’re seriously dating toward a commitment can lead to either him prolonging the “situationship” and uncertainty as long as possible, or he’ll appreciate the lack of pressure and initiate the conversation himself. It won’t always render the result that you may want. I’ve experienced both outcomes. Nonetheless, I still believe this is the best way to approach an exclusive romantic relationship for a few reasons.
I don’t ever want a man to feel as though he was coerced or manipulated into being my partner. More than this, I need to know that he wasn’t. I need to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he chose me.
I see it often, where people will just settle for a relationship that they don’t want, or accept a relationship to which they didn’t overtly agree. Fear of being alone, hurting someone’s feelings, or even losing them contributes to such arrangements.
You’d think that if you’re afraid to lose someone it’s a sign that you should commit to them. But not always. Sometimes people are afraid to lose you because they don’t have other options, they’ve grown fond of you but still wish to date other people (they don’t want you dating other people though), or even because they want to continue sleeping with you.
So, no pressure from me.
I may bring up the idea of a relationship if it’s something I’d like to explore with the man I’m dating, but once I know he’s clear on what I want and where I stand, I won’t mention it many times again. I don’t make threats or give ultimatums. I don’t badger for answers or decisions.
I also don’t like succumbing to the notion that commitment is inherently more difficult or scary for men. I think this is what we do when we try to persuade men to commit—as though it’s an idea that comes naturally to us but they need to be talked into it.
I get societal gender roles, primal instincts, the historical concept of masculinity, and that in many circles it’s considered natural for men to desire wom(e)n. But, it’s not always easy for us to commit either. I don’t want to buy into a school of thought that teaches girls to aspire to marriage but doesn’t teach boys the same.
Choose me. Or don’t.
It’s as simple as that. The result can sometimes be a painful realization that the situation isn’t what you thought it to be. I’ve had someone take advantage of my lack of pressure and drag the courtship out for months until I walked away from the indecision and vagueness. I let him walk too. I take some of the blame for how it went down — for allowing it to continue so long.
There’s a thin line between letting someone choose you and letting someone use you.
What I learned from that situation is, a person doesn’t have to treat you poorly to be using you. They can keep you around for companionship, attention, and again, sex or other benefits, with no plans to ever build a life with you. They just never tell you that part.
So, on one hand, and I can understand why some feel compelled to demand a definitive response to whether or not commitment is on the horizon. I see why a woman may ask a man over and over to label the relationship. None of us enjoy having our time wasted or being lead on. The more often you bring up the subject, the quicker you’ll get an answer.
That just doesn’t sit well with me. If I have to convince a man to be my significant other, I’d rather not have him. If you don’t see me, learn about me, think of me, build a connection and feel I’m someone worthy all on your own, don’t bother.
Fear works in many ways.
Some are genuinely afraid of commitment. They have a hard time vowing to anything long-term. I’ve been one such person on occasion. The “what ifs” and doubts can be crippling. Just the idea of being stuck with anything or anyone seems unappealing — even if you like them/it. There’s a fear that one day you won’t, things will go bad, or you’ll miss out on someone/something even more amazing.
In Eight Common Fears That Men Have of Making a Commitment, Dr. Diana Kirschner details reasons why this may be. Among them are fear of rejection, a fear of being controlled and smothered, and a fear of not measuring up in the eyes of a partner. Of that last reason, Dr. Kirschner goes on to say:
This particular fear can make it very difficult to move forward into a committed relationship with a partner, no matter how terrific she is. At his core, this type of man is terrified that he can’t give a woman what she deserves or needs. His anxiety can be magnified if he is really smitten with her — so the more he is into her, the faster he thinks he will fail in some irretrievable way.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons a man may not want to commit to a relationship. It’s not always from a place of cruel intentions. Yet, regardless of this fact and the many valid explanations that exist, I don’t believe any of them suffice for pressuring him to be in a relationship. Every time I’ve witnessed the scenario, it hasn’t gone well. The guy usually ends up feeling resentful and trapped.
More often than not, I’ve found that people know what they want and if they say “I don’t know” when asked, they don’t want it — at least not in that moment. No decision is itself a decision. We just don’t always recognize it as such.
There’s no magic number for how long the dating phase should last. It’s different for everyone. But whether it’s six months or six days, I think it’s important that each person decides to move to the next phase on his or her own accord.
If we’re together, it will be because we choose to be. Then we choose each other again every day, despite the space to choose otherwise. Don’t you want to be able to say that? And believe it?