How to Know When to Commit

Storm troopers show relationship commitment

I used to think that commitment to a partner was a choice that would follow from a feeling of certainty. That there would be a point where I could say “Now the time is right. This is the person for me.“ and at that point I would take the next natural step in the relationship, whether it was becoming exclusive, moving in together, or combining finances.

This kind of thinking meant I was tied up in knots, and had decision making paralysis. How could I plan my career or my future until I was certain about them? And how could I be certain about them without knowing the outcome of our choices?

Waiting for a Deeper Relationship Commitment

I spent a lot of time trying to extrapolate his character from the moments we spent together. So much time was spent trying to figure whether we could resolve our problems, or whether we would ultimately realise we were incompatible. I was going through the motions of relationship, and noticing that he was still holding back. There was a sense he wasn’t all in. You know why? He could see my foot in the door.

I had it all backwards. Because, you see, I was waiting for his deeper commitment before I went all in. And until I went all in, I couldn’t possibly have his deeper commitment. I just continued to play this game of overthinking, overanalyzing, and trying to predict the future. It’s a crazy-making loop.

One day I was talking to a mentor and trying to decide if we should move in together. “I don’t want it to be a financial decision”, I said. “ I don’t want for the decision to be all about money.” The conversation skipped a beat. She looked me in the eye and said “then why are you making it all about that?”

It was in that moment that the penny finally dropped. The time and energy I was giving to the “problems” was the only thing giving them any weight. The feeling I had of uncertainty – I was generating it. The concerns about money – they were mine. Moving in together – he was only ever waiting for me to catch up!

Changing Attitudes and Strategies

Now I understand that commitment is a verb. The feeling of certainty, of knowing, will never arrive unaided. Certainty only arrives after taking action. It is moving in together and giving up your apartment. It is negotiating financial decisions together, and letting go of the fierce independence that says “I don’t need you”. And it is embracing the differences in the way we do things and learning how to navigate them with love and respect.

I realised it was time to stop shopping for a partner with the right problems, the ones I thought would be easy to navigate. I chose the man I already loved, and made a commitment to stay in the relationship. Now we still have the same glorious problems but we approach our shared life with a very different set of attitudes and strategies, which means we share a passionate & erotically charged relationship because of our differences. Not despite them.

What is getting in the way of your full commitment to your partner?