Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that there comes a time when you have to make a clear decision, whether to stay or to leave. And having that “talk” will probably be the deciding factor.
With rare exceptions, one person is usually more committed to the relationship than the other person, and that’s what makes having the discussion so scary. If you are in your teens or twenties, you don’t feel the pressure of defining your relationship, but if you are in your thirties, forties, or beyond, it can be agonizing not knowing where your relationship is going.
What we hear most often is that one of them likes the status quo and doesn’t feel the need to change the direction of the relationship, while the other one is suffering deep anxiety at the probability that the relationship is going nowhere. No one likes to feel that s/he has wasted years on a relationship that’s going nowhere, but it’s much more difficult to deal with if you are past your twenties and want to start a family.
Hindsight is often 20/20 and it goes something like this: “If I had known that s/he wanted a relationship without strings, I’d never have gotten involved with him or her.” And that makes me wonder why so many people get into relationships without finding out those details before they start dating.
Certainly, it’s easier to imagine that if you get involved, and you like how the relationship is going, the next step will be marriage. It might not occur to you that once you are in this wonderful relationship, your partner may not want to take it any further than where you are.
Still, it might save both of you wasted years and deep emotional angst, if you agree at the beginning, when you are first considering having an exclusive relationship, to set a time limit. “If we’re not married by the end of the first year, we’ll know that there is no future for us as a couple, and we’ll go our separate ways.”
Then, the terms are on the table and you both know that you’re either going to get married or you’re going to end the relationship. You then have a year to find out if you want to spend the rest of your life with each other.