When it's Not Clear if You're Monogamous
One aspect of dating that can feel especially difficult (and unnecessarily so) is navigating the transition from dating (a.k.a. playing the field) to committing to one person for the purpose of entering into a monogamous relationship. Sometimes, this transition is effortless and organic. It goes something like: On our third date, we both looked at each other and said, 'I only want to be with you'. It just sort of happened! While other times, and more often the case, it's not as clear what the other person wants, and sometimes, you're not even sure what you want, but you know it's going to take longer than you anticipated to figure it all out.
There are usually 3 scenarios when it comes to dating and transitioning (or not) into a monogamous relationship:
1.You want to "take things to the next level," but your partner has not expressed a similar interest. You may even question how many people he's dating along with you, as his phone keeps blowing up, and he received a questionable text from someone listed as "Pretty Melissa" which you couldn't help but notice.
2.Your partner is interested in becoming serious and you're not sure if you're ready. It's common to really like a person but be unclear as to whether you could see yourself with that person long-term. Our minds are constantly seeking for the next best thing, so it's easy to wonder if our current partner is as good as it gets, or if there's someone even shinier and brighter who'd be willing to go out for a mocha-chino and take a stroll through Central Park.
3.You're both afraid of moving too fast and are reticent to commit. Often, this is the case when two people get out of a long-term relationship or are newly single. They don't want to jump from one relationship straight into another one. Such was the case with my partner, Tim, and I was fairly patient for the first seven months, but ultimately, I needed to make sure that he was looking for a real relationship and that he could commit 100% to our relationship.
So, what do you do if you're in any of the situations above?
The answer is: When in doubt, communicate how you feel and what you want.
Does this lead to incredibly awkward and uncomfortable conversations? Sure. Can relationships be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable? Absolutely. But the truth is that an emotionally healthy relationship takes constant communication, and while most people are more comfortable with sharing their bodies than their feelings, that is not the path to take. It's the easier path to take, but it's certainly not the one to you having a fulfilling relationship.
Here's the key: Don't be afraid to ask. It's okay to ask your partner if he's dating other people. It's okay to ask if he would like to be in a monogamous relationship in the future. It's okay to ask him to be specific about what he's looking for and in what time range.
Too often, we don't give ourselves permission to ask the difficult questions because we're not brave enough to hear the answers, but I'm telling you that not knowing is not an option that you can afford to take. You are too valuable and worthy of a great love to be waiting on the sidelines for Mr. or Mrs. Indecisive. If the answer is maybe, then it's time to move on.
Granted, there are situations which cause a person to want more time, such as a recent divorce, family troubles, or just having undergone major shifts in life, but regardless of how chaotic life can be, what matters most is getting really clear on your feelings, as well as your partner's feelings. The first step to figuring out if you should invest in someone is asking yourself how you really feel (and how you would feel if you lost the person). Life is bound to bring chaos, but if you've found someone who you adore, don't be so quick to let the person go.
So, to sum it all up:
1.Figure out how you feel (and what you want).
2.Be honest and ask questions. (When Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome invites you on another casual date, make sure you have the awkward conversation you've been avoiding.)
3.Decide that you are worth it, and settle for nothing less.
More important than knowing proper dating etiquette, making your online profile perfect, or trimming down your waistline, is believing that you are worthy of love, because if you don't believe that in your core, you will continue to attract people who mirror your lack of self-love and who don't value you. Once you decide that you are more talented, lovely, and worthy of love than you could ever imagine, you'll attract someone who will see how undeniably amazing you are, but the catch is that you have to be willing to see it first.