When do we use the terms "boyfriend and/or girlfriend?" What do they mean anyway? How long do we date before we call what we're doing a relationship? It's difficult to know when we've reached the next level of a dating courtship when the terms we use to define it are not clear. Different terms mean different things to each person in a dating situation. The way we use dating terms changes with each generation and within different cultures and subcultures in our society.
Defining a relationship in terms of how many months have passed might not fall within the same parameters for each person. Defining a relationship based on duration or the number of dates can sometimes create anxiety due to fears having to commit to or uphold certain expectations of a chosen partner.
Questions daters may ask themselves include:
- So does this mean we're exclusive?
- Can I no longer date other people?
- Is he expecting me to sleep with him?
- When do we shut down our dating sites and apps?
- Now that we're having sex, does this mean we're committed?
- Is it time to consider a long term commitment?
These questions loom in the minds of those who are currently dating and those who want to date. How do we address these concerns without raising our anxieties? The answer is we have to know what it is we want at a particular time in our lives. Ask yourself, "what am I looking for" and "what do I want."
No matter how much information is placed in the online dating profile, conversations about what you want in a relationship must happen in order to clarify expectations. Communication is key, upfront, face-to-face, and personal. Don't be afraid to ask enough questions and share enough about yourself to determine whether you and your potential partner are on the same page. Defining your expectations of a dating relationship, a committed relationship, or casual relationship will make it a lot easier to know early on what being in a relationship means to you, by your definition.
Breaking up is hard, and very painful, to do. The following poem speaks to the emotional impact on the body and soul:
Anticipated Break-up by Janis Leslie 1989
I’m haunted by uncertainty,
feeling empty as a hollow shell.
Except for the pit in my stomach,
filled with mixed emotions on the verge of explosion . . . in the form of tears.
Severance grips my soul, cut off from the one I love.
Nervous energy permeates my body,
To the point of uncontrollable trembling,as I lay awake at night.
A tug of war inhabits my frame,concentrated in my heart that bleeds sorrow.
The constant push and pull tires me.
My spirit and gleeful nature are drained,supplying that energy to my pain.
Our unknown, yet anticipated fate,Ignites spells of turmoil that come and go,proving to be more painful than the loss of love itself.
Confusion rules at this time.
The poem focuses on the many emotions that ending a relationship can elicit, including the feeling of falling apart. Relationships that are based on intensity, deep connections, and emotional dependency are often the most difficult to end. Long-term unions, shared children, property, financial investments, and family ties can complicate the situation even more. The term "traumatic bonding" is sometimes at the core of an unhealthy relationship that causes one or both involved to question whether it's time to end it. A traumatic bond in human relationships includes an imbalanced mixed of the good and bad aspects of relating. For example, intense love and quality time spent together as a couple having a great night out can end with a huge conflict that escalates into an ugly verbal altercation, leaving one or both feeling abused. This dynamic creates a cycle of good times and bad times causing confusion as the traumatic bond strengthens. And thus, the painful difficulty in making a decision about how unhealthy it really is ensues, as depicted in the poem.It's important to step back far enough to get a new perspective on what's going on and whether or not it's time to stay or go. Getting a new perspective may mean:
Poetry can magically and unexpectedly put into words what you've been feeling and needing to say, but couldn't. If you are in the midst of or have not yet healed from a break-up, you are encouraged to read "Anticipated Break-Up" again. Meditate on it and explore what it means to you. Please share your thoughts, including your struggles and triumphs about breaking up on this blog. For more on this topic, visit: http://www.janshares.hubpages.com/hub/When-Marriages-Sadly-End and http://www.janshares.hubpages.com/hub/Getting-Back-Together-For-Better-Or-For-Worse
- from what appears to be unhealthy for you and your partner.
- from family and friends who care about you.
- about the dynamics of your relationship through self-help resources.
- with a neutral perspective to help you facilitate the best decision for you.
Counseling is an option for individuals and couples who may benefit from assistance with exploring personal difficulties that consistently interfere with problem-solving, decision-making, and relating. These difficulties are often a result of:
- unresolved issues from past events;
- previous hurtful or abusive experiences;
- and wounds that have not yet healed or haven't been addressed.
A supportive and neutral environment may be just what the doctor ordered to give you a comfortable place to address these issues in an atmosphere free of judgement and bias. Counseling and therapy are often looked upon with mystery and apprehension accompanied by fears of being analyzed, labeled, harshly confronted, shamed, and exposed. These stereotypes of the counseling process may be preventing you from getting the assistance that you can benefit from that could indeed change your life for the better.
Counseling can be a rewarding opportunity for you to engage in self-discovery and personal growth. The therapeutic alliance established over time and the guidance offered by a counselor can result in:
- improved self-image;
- increased confidence;
- enhanced relationships;
- and overall better functioning.
Sometimes it can help to have a neutral person look into your world of emotions and behaviors and see the things you cannot see yourself. Through counseling, you are presented with a clearer picture of your situation as the counselor helps you to explore other approaches to handling it that may work better for you in the future.
So, what do you think? Is counseling for you? Let me know.