We wish there were an easy answer to this age-old question, and that we could just give you some sort of magical mathematical formula. Something like, take the number of weeks you’ve been together, multiply by the sum of your ages, divide by the number of months his mother nursed him when he was a baby, then subtract the number of times he’s uttered the phrase, “Let’s just take our time.”
But like so many relational dilemmas, this one doesn’t come with an easy, ready-made answer. When you are trying to decide how long to wait for your significant other to commit, one of the best things you can do is to ask yourself some tough questions. Be as honest with yourself as you can, and see if these series of questions might shed a little light on your situation.
Questions to ask About Yourself: Why is a commitment important to me right now?
This question is all about motives. There are plenty of good reasons for wanting to take the next step in the relationship. For example, a deeper relational commitment makes a lot of sense if you feel that you two have the chance to develop something really strong together; or if you want to increase the level of trust in the relationship; or if you feel that you two are soul mates with a high level of compatibility. But there are also motives that are not as justifiable. A deeper commitment makes less sense if you simply feel that you two have been together long enough that he is now obligated to commit; or if you are afraid that you might not find someone else; or if you worry that he won’t ever really be true to you unless there’s an ironclad commitment. So check yourself, and your reasons for wanting to move things forward.
Is there a chance that I am rushing things?
We’re not saying that you are rushing things. But it’s important that you at least consider the possibility that you are trying to move the relationship along too quickly. Look at all of the dynamics of the relationship and ask yourself whether you are justified in asking for the increased level of commitment right now. If you determine that you are being a bit too impatient, then let things slow down a little and give him some time. If, however, you decide that it’s legitimate to be asking for more assurances from your boyfriend, then move on to the next questions below.
Questions to ask About Him: Do you think he really sees a future in the relationship?
If not, you’ve got a problem. And even though it will be really painful, you need to end the relationship now. The reason is simple: you two are in vastly different places in terms of how you see what you are doing together. You are ready to take the next step towards a serious relationship, and he doesn’t even see a future. That’s a huge gap between how you perceive things, and it doesn’t bode well for the success of the relationship. So if you determine that he’s not optimistic about your future together, then it’s time to move on.
Are you clear on why he may be feeling gun-shy?
Again, this may be a difficult question to explore within yourself, but it’s another important one. Is there a chance that your significant other is feeling pressured, or even trapped? It’s not always the case, but often, men (more than women) hate feeling trapped. If you are with a man and you constantly talk about the future and how nice it will be if you two get married, then there’s a good chance that you are going to scare him, and maybe even scare him away. If, on the other hand, he feels that you two are just enjoying deepening your relationship and your understanding of each other, you’ll have a better chance of his deciding on his own that he wants to take things to the next level. This doesn’t mean that you can’t bring up the question of more commitment on his part. But if you get a sense that he is feeling pressured, then you should tread lightly.
Questions to Ask about the Relationship: Are you two ultimately compatible?
This is always the big question in any relationship. Are you two pretty similar in terms of your foundational beliefs and desires? Or do you want really different things out of this phase of your lives? If there’s real compatibility between you—and you’ve been together long enough to be confident that there is—then it probably makes sense for you two to begin to go deeper in your relationship and move towards a stronger commitment. But if it is becoming increasingly clear that you two are in pretty different places in terms of what you want from each other and from the relationship, then it doesn’t make much sense to wait around for a commitment that will most likely never come.
Is the relationship good enough that you’re willing to wait?
Sometimes, we’re in a relationship that is so good that it makes us want more of it. This is definitely something to appreciate. If that’s where you find yourself now, then you should congratulate yourself on getting to enjoy something that lots of other people want to find. And it’s perfectly normal for you to want some sort of assurance from your partner that he feels the same way. But if you are getting lots of enjoyment and fulfillment out of the relationship as it stands right now, and he is asking you to be patient, then the best thing you can do is to wait. Not necessarily forever, but at least for a while. Enjoy the process, and do your best to live in and appreciate the present moment.