“We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”- Cornel West
Most of us understand that relationships grow through different stages and with time, the dynamics within a given relationship may also evolve. The stages are defined by the flow of feelings, challenges and opportunities that come with the relationship over time. In an ideal situation, a relationship should grow from one of mutual attraction and excitement, to one of mutual love, respect, trust and intimacy. However, many Eves and Adams (mostly Eves) get lost somewhere along these evolving stages of the relationship. Sometimes I think it mostly boils down to what Eve and Adam think commitment means and what they expect of each other when it comes to commitment.
What does it mean when people say or think they are in a committed relationship after all? I was reading an article once about whether “exclusively dating” means the same as committing to someone. I found an analogy that the writer used quite interesting; he said that “if I’m in an exclusive relationship, I can lie on the couch while she does stuff with her family. If I’m committed, I’m doing that stuff with her family.” According to him, a committed relationship is where Eve and Adam have been going out for a significant amount of time (may be 6 months or more), they have met each other’s family members and best friends, they have unspoken expectations which they fulfil for each other and they’re living together in some one form or another, even if they have not necessarily moved in together. Well, if only it would so easy as to tick those four boxes…………..and I wondered whether the Eve he would be dating would have the same idea of what commitment is.
Commitment is about making a relationship healthy and strong. It is about acknowledging that you like the relationship that you have and that you have the willingness to do what it takes to make it work. It means being able to recognize that relationships are not always a smooth ride: as individuals, we have different personalities, needs, emotional maturity, lifestyles, thinking processes and expectations. Commitment is about knowing that when we come together with all these different things, we will have to make compromises and adjustments in order to make the relationship work.
Commitment is about being able to communicate what we want in a relationship. Many challenges relating to commitment often arise when Eve and Adam have been seeing each other for some time without having communicated about what they expect from the relationship; sometimes because we are so busy enjoying ourselves especially during the nimbus or romance stage, we are often too willing to let things just flow and sometimes, this can lead to dilemmas later on when Eve and Adam find out that they are not necessarily headed in the same direction.
Commitment is about action. When we start off on relationships, many of us usually have our heads up in the clouds, building castles and having day dreams about what the relationship is actually like and what it will be like in the future. Whether or not we are in a committed relationship forces us to realize that we cannot entirely rely on the endorphins pumping through our bodies but that we need look at what actions are actually being taken in the relationship – either to make it work or to take it to that next level. When those instances of differences and disappointment arise, commitment is about how you learn how to communicate and resolve conflict with the other person effectively, which is an important skill if you want your relationship to survive and thrive and for which a couple has to make time for.
Commitment is about mutuality – mutual love, respect, trust and happiness. It also means mutuality of understanding – to many Eves and Adams, commitment in relationship is usually considered to be synonymous with fidelity, marriage/settling down and monogamy but for some Eves and Adams, that may not necessarily be the case so it is important to understand that what Eve and Adam want from each other and more importantly, that this has been communicated.
Commitment is not about fear of the unknown. It is about knowing yourself, getting to know the person that you are with, accepting them with all their virtues and shortcomings and coming to the decision that you and your significant other want to take into the long haul.
Commitment is about recognizing that we must be committed to the process of making a relationship thrive, survive and stabilize – often times we are more committed to the idea of the outcome of what a committed relationship can bring into our lives and not enough about the process of how all that comes to be.
What does the C word mean to you?
Have a good week.