During my Fox 5 interview on dating and relationships, when Liz Dahlem asked me directly on camera, “Do you HAVE to have the talk?” many of my clients’ experiences flashed before me to help me with my answer. During coaching sessions, this hot topic has been discussed repeatedly. “If we’ve been dating for a while, can’t I just assume that we are exclusive? We talk or text often, we go out almost every Saturday night, so that means it’s just the two of us, right?” Well, let’s explore that further…
If you are both at a point in your relationship that you are ready to be exclusive, what’s holding you back from having “the talk” to clearly define the commitment? How sure are you that you are ready to close off other possibilities? How confident are you that if you bring up exclusivity that he/she will be on the same page? If you are not feeling reasonably sure that he/she is up for the commitment, what would provide you with the perception that he/she is voluntarily exclusive without a conversation? Many clients have been disappointed to learn that while they were assuming exclusivity minus “the talk,” their partner had been engaging in other opportunities and may not have been viewing that exploration as cheating in any way.
Instead of dreading “the talk,” let’s celebrate it as a great tool to gage our true feelings as well as an opportunity to potentially start out a long term relationship with healthy communication. If we are hesitant about initiating “the talk” let’s gain clarity around the reason. If we feel ready for the talk, let’s have the courage to put it out there and find out undoubtedly what our agreed upon commitment level is.
In a nutshell, if “the talk” is not taking place, one or both of us has a reason that we are not articulating our level of commitment out loud to each other. If we are not ready to do so, we are not likely ready to be monogamous. So, let’s continue to evaluate the connection for a while longer, without any assumptions, until we feel better prepared for the all-important conversation. Yes ladies and gentlemen, in order to be absolutely sure that you are in an exclusive relationship, you really do HAVE to have “the talk.”
Why do we dip our big toe in the cold pool and then quickly withdraw our foot, taking a few steps back? Why do we repeat the same strange dance a few moments later? Will that method really get us used to the water so that we can swim, enjoy, and feel refreshed? Can we ever create a real splash using this “dip the toe” method? More importantly, how familiar does this pattern feel to you and where else is it showing up in your life?
Many of my dating coaching clients and workshop participants are dipping only their big toe into the pool of dating. Why? One of many possible answers is that if they are putting forth minimal effort, they will feel less rejected if the overture is not reciprocated. After all, they are not really trying, are they?
What does this look like practically? It looks like an internet dating profile that is incomplete, without photos that maximize the person’s attractiveness and without an appealing and accurate description of who the person is. It looks like a dating site member who is not initiating any emails, but rather waiting endlessly for the “right person” to express interest. It looks like someone at a singles event checking his/her phone incessantly and not really participating in the activities.
Do you want to experience dating success? Of course, we all do! Well then, it’s time to begin questioning your method and challenging yourself to modify it despite the hesitant parts of you that urge you to hang back. What would it be like for you to takes steps forward to fully get into the water? Clearly envision yourself making it happen. First, get your feet wet, then immerse yourself one segment at a time, get used to the cold water for a while, and finally start swimming. It’s time to get playful and create a splash! If you don’t generate a dating opportunity, at least you will enjoy a refreshing swim, and you won’t be so afraid of the cold next time. After all, next time may present the opportunity to swim with someone really special who you would never have gotten close to with only your big toe fleetingly touching the shallow end of the pool.