Ever been in a relationship like this?
You know, one that's not really a relationship.
If you have then you know it's not an easy position to be in, especially if you're the one who wants it to be a real relationship. You're together in every way that a couple is but when someone asks him or her if they're single, they answer "Yes."
When you're alone together it's like you're the only people in the world, but when other people are around you don't feel so important anymore.
When you're apart it's probably tough to get in touch with them or get a clear answer about when you can expect to see them again.
You might think that you're happy with this person but you also realize that this relationship stresses you out a lot more than it does them. And when you think about it, that's especially frustrating for you.
Here's the reason this relationship stresses you out so much: Vague commitments cause suffering. It's really that simple. It's incredibly difficult when you want a relationship with someone and you don't know where you stand with them and they won't tell you. Whether they're doing it on purpose or not, keeping someone in a relationship without giving them clarity is manipulative and hurtful.
These kinds of relationships are so normalized, they are literally the most common complaint we hear from people who come to us. But in truth, this is a relationship that nobody should ever waste a second thought on.
There are a few ideas we share with our clients when it comes to these kinds of relationships--a few things that everyone should know about situations like this--and that's what we want to share in this post.
Here are a few essential insights about non-committal relationships that will prevent you from ever being hurt like this again.
First, let's define a romantic relationship.
One of the biggest traps that you can fall into in a situation like this is not recognizing it for what it is. Somehow we think that if we don't call it a relationship, that prevents it from being one.
That's why it's important to know how to clearly define a romantic involvement, it removes a lot of the mystery. We define it very simply with 3 criteria:
Feelings of Love or strong emotion (from either person)
Any relationship that contains all three of these aspects is a romantic involvement, even if it's not a committed relationship.
Once there is an emotional connection on one or both sides, along with a sexual relationship, and this is happening on an ongoing basis, you are in a relationship with that person, like it or not.
We only try to avoid calling it what it is when we don't want to have to own up to the accountability that comes with it. If someone doesn't want to be accountable to you, they don't really care about you or about having a relationship with you.
That can be a tough pill to swallow but if you're in a relationship like this, on some level you know that it's true and you're afraid to face up to it (and please understand we've been there too and know the feeling well). You think that if you hang on long enough, they might change their mind and decide to give you what you want, but they won't. Non-committal people are just that--non-committal people.
If you're in a relationship with someone that fits these criteria and they are unwilling to acknowledge it for what it is, they are trying to receive the benefits of a relationship without having to invest in it. They want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak. This is not an equal partnership and you will always feel undervalued by this person.
So why is commitment so important?
Commitment = importance, quite literally. It is what we give to people and things that are important to us, it's as simple as that. A Loving parent gets up in the middle of the night to care for their crying child, why? Because that child is important to them. They are willing to make the commitment to care for the child because it's important to them.