“What do you mean does our relationship have a future? We’ve got a date next week haven’t we?”
Commitment can be a charged word in relationships. Some people seek commitment as a goal in it’s own right. Others back away from commitment as if it bites. If you and your partner have different ideas about commitment you might find yourselves standing on shaky ground.
Some men and women feel swamped or constrained by commitment. Others feel exposed and vulnerable without it. Your own reaction to commitment will likely be based on your personal definition of commitment, and just as importantly, what you imagine your partner means by it.
Commitment in a relationship
For you, commitment might be the foundation that makes it possible to plan for the future together. It might enable choices about who you live with, where you live, how you live your life.
To others, commitment appears to lead to obligation, narrowing horizons and replaces freedom and spontaneity with routine.
It can be complicated to fit different views of devotion into the same relationship. This can become particularly uncomfortable if either of you are determined to convert the other.
So how do you find a balance that offers security without suffocation and independence without isolation? Instead of trying to get your partner to see it your way you might find it useful to shift your focus.
What do you need to ask yourself ?
Together you might explore the shape of commitment and the freedom you offer each other. When can your partner count on you? When do you need room to move? What sort of a future do you anticipate for your relationship? What loyalty do you offer each other? What loyalty do you need to sustain your relationship?
Getting specific will give you a clearer picture of what’s possible. Your views don’t have to be the same to be compatible, although sometimes compatibility is all you want. Compatibility is a good beginning for a relationship to become more committed in the future.
You can ask for commitment. You can invite it. But it’s not something you can force someone to feel. You can’t persuade someone into it by the strength of your logical argument. You can’t create it in them out of shame or guilt or duty.
Commitment is a willingness within you. It fuels your ability to let go of the attitudes, the grudges, the lovers or choices that might otherwise trip up your relationship. It enables you to hold what you have chosen.
The level of your commitment isn’t a competition. It isn’t a gauge of your quality as a person. You can find it a burden and a gift at the same time. You’ll feel it more in some relationships and less in others.
Relationships are in constant motion
Your relationship is alive. It’s not static. It’s in constant motion. It shifts and sways to balance your commitment to yourself with the devotion you offer the relationship. It dips and swings while your partner does the same balancing act.
Honouring your own promise and honouring the promises you make. This is at the heart of relationship challenges. Commitment that has no room for your own needs amounts to being shackled. Freedom can be very lonely. Commitment and freedom in partnership is one of the paths to generous shares of intimacy and independence.