Many people today are in romantic relationships and cannot tell precisely how or when that relationship started. Some relationships have come to be because the two people involved feel they have great conversation and are able to spend hours talking or texting non-stop.
Other relationships have started because two people find themselves within close proximity and they enjoy hanging out together.
The transition from platonic to exclusivity is blurry. They just ‘flowed’ into the relationship – after all, the conversation was great and they enjoyed each other’s company – and they wouldn’t be spending this much time together or talking into the wee hours of the morning if they were not an item – Right? Wrong!
I used to be that person who ‘flowed’ into relationships (boy, could I flow). It always started out as platonic friendships and then we got closer and spent more time together and automatically we were an ‘item’. My dating anniversary always sounded something like ‘ around the end of September or beginning of October’ or ‘shortly after valentine’s day’s’ or ‘around my birthday’.
Some people are ‘fortunate’ to have the other person willing to ‘flow’ into a relationship with them and keep progressing from there. But, I have heard of many ladies who have had the humiliating ‘but I didn’t ask you out’ line thrown in their face when things hit a rocky patch. ‘You didn’t ask me out but we spend all our free time together and when we are not together you are all I can think about…’
I personally believe all relationships must be clearly defined. With clear definition, each person knows what they are signing up to – the level of commitment, exclusivity, boundaries, what is expected of them etc. No assumptions! Assumption they say is the lowest form of knowledge. Relationships should be viewed like contractual agreements and as such all terms and conditions (T&C’s) should be presented and reviewed before signing. If any party does not agree with any of the T&C’s, they can discuss and amend (if agreeable) before signing. Defining the relationship means that each person is provided with the opportunity to agree and commit to the relationship of their own volition – without being manipulated by the strings of ‘flowing emotions’.
Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge!
You really don’t want to coerce, force or decieve anybody to be in a relationship with you. If you do, you are signing up to coercing, forcing and deceiving till you get to a point where you can’t continue and everything erupts in your face…not to talk of the wasted time and emotions. Moreover each relationship has its own required work and honestly you want somebody who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them. Don’t add coercion and deceit to your to-do list in any relationship.
So why do people shy away from defining their relationships? I would be the first to confess I used to be the No.1 supporter of let things happen naturally and let it just flow’. The truth is defining a relationship is not exactly romantic because you have to have ‘common sense’ discussions and ask the hard questions which many of us would rather avoid. Before now, that was me – no need for the hard questions – let us just flow; but there is no wisdom in that. You need to deal with the head matters before the heart takes over. Because once the heart is involved it is never that easy to get out of a dysfunctional relationship. That is why so many ladies are in dysfunctional relationships and despite acknowledging the relationship is dysfunctional they just can’t seem to leave. Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Deal with the head matters before the heart take over.
Also, with definition, if there are some T&C’s you find you can’t live with, there is honour in walking away at that point. Trust me the other person would respect you even though they don’t say it. It is safer to nip it at the bud thanto get into the relationship hoping he changes his mind . In some cases, there might be something that the other person doesn’t have a strong opinion about and is willing to do it your way or better still the other person is willing to do it your way because they really like you and want to be with you (beware of the pretenders though!) . But let them make that decision!
As a side note, when I say define your relationship, I am not advising you pull out a physical legal agreement and have each person sign on the dotted lines. I mean you should have discussions, ask questions and cover all bases. It can take as long as it needs to provided you are both happy and have an understanding. And you can always constantly add to your original definition as ‘new things’ arise.
When my fiancé and I were defining our relationship, we had spoken about almost everything but I had one last item which to be honest, I really thought would break the camel’s back but it was important to me. I told him I wanted a relationship with limited physical contact – i.e. No kissing and no touching i.e. groping . And I told him he can go away and think about it but they are very important to me. And before I could finish the sentence he was like ‘sure’… I was dazed. He said touching was a ‘No’ for sure, but he didn’t mind kissing but if I didn’t want it, he was happy for it to be off the table. Wow! He chose me! – and trust me not many things compare with the knowing that you were chosen – and that’s really where you want to start a relationship, knowing you were chosen. He knew what was on offer and still signed up.
A clear definition for your relationship makes it easy to invest in it and give your all to it because you know you both have an understanding. Habakkuk 2:2 – Write the vision, make it plain, so that he that reads it may run with it
In conclusion, learn to define your relationships because your time, emotions and destiny are too precious to put on the roller-coaster of a ‘flowing’ relationship. You might lose some ‘potentials’ during the definition process but that’s okay because you have just fast tracked and eliminated what was bound to be a mishap further down the line and saved yourself wasted time and emotions. Defining your relationship is definitely worth the long and uncomfortable discussions.
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