I saw my phone light up when another text message came from him. “Why can’t we get together Friday night?”, he asked. I could feel my frustration level rising. I had already told him I was busy Friday. We had hung out two days this week already and I wanted to go with my girlfriends out of town for shopping this weekend. I didn’t really think I needed to explain that. In fact, I was not obligated to him at all. I enjoyed our dates and talking on the phone but he was starting to encroach on more of my time and I wasn’t appreciating it. I sure hoped this guy wasn’t expecting more from this relationship than I wanted it to be…
Does this sound slightly familiar? Many of us have experienced a similar scenario….
No one likes to be alone - well, at least not ALL of the time. It is our natural inclination to desire companionship. Who wants to go to a movie alone and have no one else to laugh or cry with? Showing up at a party alone makes you feel like a social misfit. So, we cultivate friendships and stay connected with family to meet our needs. And...we might even toy with the idea of seeking a little romance. However, there are some unspoken rules we have established in our minds - we call the shots on how much we want to invest in that relationship. When those unspoken barriers get crossed, deafening alarms sound off in our mind and we start applying the brakes.
It’s not that we aren’t capable of deeper relationships. When we are ready, we will knock out any competition and cross huge obstacles to make it happen. But, the planets have to be aligned (at least in our minds) first or we will put up barriers to keep others out. Why? There is nothing inherently threatening about being “friends” on Facebook (although half of those on our “friends” list don’t meet that standard) and flirting with the new guy at the office, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to sit across the table at a restaurant from them or exchange phone numbers just yet.
Building a relationship requires time, effort, and - the real deal breaker - commitment. Now another person comes to rely on you and holds you accountable for your part of the relationship. This can be a wonderful thing if you are going into it expecting that. The rewards include having another person on your team, a supporter, and consistent companionship. You don’t have to go to the party alone! Someone shares your interests and your tribe just became stronger!
The downside? (This depends on your outlook.) The other person in the relationship expects something in return. They need you to be “available” for them and respond to their needs. If you commit to a romantic relationship, you open up a door most people do not get to enter. You open yourself to vulnerability and exposure. More of your time is dedicated to them and there is an expectancy that you will be connecting with them on a regular - probably daily - basis rather than occasionally or when the whim hits you like you would be with your casual friends. Simple communication can easily become complex and complicated because you “expect more”. If the feelings go deep and you feel the investment is “worth it”, you plow through the doubts and work at cultivating the relationship. If you count the cost and decide you are not willing to give up that part of your personal freedom, you will look for any reason to end it.
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