A Committed relationship

A Committed Relationship : A Label, an Event or a Feeling? What “Commitment” is Expected to do for us in our Relationships

I have noticed throughout my work with couples that one thing seems to pop up and cause tension, conflict and/or disconnection between partners. This lurking dark cloud that slowly creeps into session that I speak of, generally involves sensitivities around “commitment.”

“So then, what signifies a committed relationship?” You may ask.

It doesn’t matter if they have been married for 25 years or have just simply started dating. Couples are often reporting feeling an off-balance of commitment within their relationship, which is usually based on an absence of a label, event or a feeling.

As you can imagine, this can cause serious insecurities, resentments and even in some cases, separation. Specifically, as a [Millennial] generation, we are generally waiting longer than any other generation to “settle down” and get married… have children, dive into the “ultimate level” of perceived commitment with a partner of our choice. We want to focus on our independence, our passions and dreams first. We want to be the best so we can have the best  committed relationship and future, right? 

We may have certain goals and expectations for the future, but we tend to get mixed up when we get into a “committed” relationship that has gray boundaries or assumed agreements on the future or our current relationship’s security. This sense of independence we strive for (although extremely empowering) also has huge impacts on how open we are with each other and how uncomfortable we tend to naturally be at relying on one another. 

I sort of generalize it like this: It is as if we have our sh*t mostly together, (but are expected to have all of it and we subconsiously hide that small piece of us that feels scared, lost andCommitted Relationship afraid in order to find a match). We then establish a relationship with a partner who is interested in this person we portray without having any issues, but then in order to eventually get any closer, we can find ourselves needing a higher level of “commitment” in order to fully feel secure in figuring out (and exposing) the other parts of us we know are there, (but definitely can’t advertise on our Tinder Profiles).

This can then get very complicated and could possibly set up our relationship on deep insecurities and a shaky foundation right off the bat. We then  can become so focused on needing a higher level of “commitment” (e.g label, event, making of plans, etc) that we don’t realize we push away any opportunity to actually tend to building intimacy and vulnerability naturally, which is required to sustain any authentic commitment in the first place. It is as if we feel these events will fill all voids and worries that exist within ourselves, thus creating the perceived “natural safety” that comes with knowing your partner isn’t going anywhere. 

The biggest questions are, how do we know we are in a committed relationship? Is it possible to feel secure Committed Relationshipwithout living together; without a ring or marriage; without a mutual home/investment or children, etc?

Do we need these things in order to allow our authentic selves to be exposed or to be accepting and secure in ourselves?“

My sense is, this is really what it comes down to…

Because I have seen this issue spark in all different couples at varying stages of their relationship, (i.e. they are experiencing a big rupture that has taken place, which has destroyed trust, or a couple being together for a few years with one person needing a proposal or they threaten to abandon the entire relationship),  I have noticed that many people aren’t feeling secure in their relationships because they aren’t aware of, or not wanting to work on, their own insecurities in the first place. This may sound harsh, but it is my belief that in order for a relationship to be fulfilling, passionate, safe and secure, it is essential to have two people who are willing to be vulnerable and self aware. This includes the other person in the relationship that is being perceived as less invested. They need to also dig deep within themselves to discover why these labels, events, and/or  feelings may be causing discomfort and it is important for them to also be honest with themselves, as well as with their partner in regards to their comfort, needs and fears, too.

We all have our own attachment stuff come up from childhood, previous experiences/relationships, trauma, emotional insecurities, etc, that tend to affect our needs and fears. Our “stuff” that we bring into our relationship (knowingly or unknowingly) can cause a lot of emotion and sometimes reactions/behaviors we aren’t too proud of. We don’t want to show our partner this… We don’t want to accept this about ourselves. We want to avoid, create a quick fix and live happily ever after.

{“So… about that ring?”} 

The reality is, if we don’t sit with these emotions and give ourselves the opportunity to understand why and how they are impacting ourselves and our relationship, then we will inevitably run into this problem eventually, whether it be this partner or another one.  

I have seen (and personally experienced in my dating years), the avoidance of icky emotions and lack of self acceptance manifest in all sorts of different ways that can cause even more conflict in the relationship. Then, sometimes even after these committed events have taken place, we may still find ourselves feeling more insecure and confused, because the security of our “commitment” didn’t just magically appear or sustain.

The reality is, we may never really feel secure in our “committed” relationship if we can’t feel secure in exposing ourselves… flaws and all, and be accepting of them without these external events and labels taking place in our relationship.

When you can dive deep within yourself and expose your needs, insecurities, fears, feelings, etc, it is my belief that you will communicate non-reactively, thus more vulnerably and effectively. If your partner is safe, this will allow them to really hear you and not just react to your defenses and their perceived demands. This will actually allow the two of you to work as a team to solve issues and discomfort together, (which then will foster the intimacy, safety and security that you feel yourself craving). Unfortunately, no wedding ceremony, number of anniversaries, downpayment on a home, etc, can do that for us authentically and longterm.

(…And to be clear, I am definitely not saying that these events aren’t representing commitment, but the point here is, if you feel you need a higher level of commitment in your relationship and are experiencing backlash from your partner, you may be digging in the wrong hole in attempt to find it). So, we need to feel security and acceptance in who we are before any of these serious life-events (that are perceived as higher level of commitments) can fully be appreciated and mutually respected.Committed Relationship

We need to water our own grass and tend to our own gardens before we can expect the flow
ers to grow. Finding security and acceptance in ourselves is the ultimate level of security and this will only hold the necessary safe space for a mutually committed and fulfilling relationship to develop, grow and sustain.