When we were young, we were told that one day, we’d live happily ever after. But now that we’ve grown up, we’ve come to realize that relationships — and life in general — is far, far more complicated than that.
When a relationship begins, it is a love affair. Fascination, joy, sex, inspiration, delight, and sex, sex, sex. At some point, however, this phase ends. (I’m sorry, it just does. It may take a few months or a decade, but it does.) I’m not saying that long term relationships can’t be romantic and sexy, but eventually, that beginning phase must end. That is why it is called the “beginning.” It is really easy to become confused about what to do next. If love affairs are about talking, having adventures, and making love, then relationships are about creating a household, meeting each other’s friends, and figuring out how much debt everyone has.
When it comes to deepening a commitment, the first question I would ask is, “Can you navigate conflict?” So, check. Here are some questions I suggest you ask yourself.
Ask Yourself These 5 Questions:
Do I love his skin?
Do you long to touch him, hold his hand, love his smell, and his physical presence? Interestingly, chemistry tends to last whether or not you’re in a period of more or less desire for each other. I know this is not your standard “expert” advice, but when skin loves skin, touch can trump many disagreements.
Is he nice?
He may be brilliant, hilarious, and handsome but, you know? SO WHAT. While these are truly desirable qualities, they are not the most important when it comes to making a relationship last. Most important is the ability and willingness to be kind, generous, open-hearted, and decent. Is he a good person? If you believe he is, proceed. If you are not really sure (and who hasn’t loved a bad boy?), um, at least take note.
Am I 100% certain that this relationship can work?
If the answer is “yes,” I’d be suspicious. “No” is a much more sane answer. I mean, who is certain? When I hear someone say, “He’s everything I ever dreamed of!” I get scared. I’m not saying that your beloved shouldn’t surpass every expectation of what you imagined love to be, but there comes a point in every relationship where you have to choose between who this person is and who you wished he was. When you are relating to a real person rather than a fantasy person, there is always some uncertainty. That’s a good sign.
Can I talk to him about things I care about?
This is different than, “Do we share values and interests?” For me, my husband and I could have almost nothing in common.. I like to read and hang about inside. He might like to go fishing. But if I feel that I can share with him what is in my heart of hearts, that’s essential.
Can I imagine loving him a little bit more than I love the idea of “us?”
If you can each hold your love for the other just slightly above your love of the relationship you have, you will be capable of creating a truly happy bond. This is the key to the whole thing. If you can love him and care for him more than loving the idea of being in a relationship, then just go for it!
Last but not least, talk about it
Take some time and contemplate these questions. If your answers make you want to deepen your commitment, then decide whether or not you’d like to discuss moving ahead.
Unfortunately, no one can tell you exactly what to say. Just trust yourself. Be honest. Talk about what you feel and what you’re uncertain about. Share your fears without expecting him to soothe them. Share your longings without expecting him to satisfy them. Share what is in your heart. At the end of the conversation, you may or may not be in agreement or even know what to do next, but you will have become more intimate.
While romance always fades, intimacy has no end, none whatsoever. Every interaction you have can deepen it whether you agree with each other, disagree, or have no idea what is going on. You can count on that.