Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Doesn't almost everything in life require a commitment to realize the maximum potential of results?

If you commit yourself to a fitness and diet regime, would it do good if you only participated in that one day per week?  A little, but in order to see the full impact, you would have to submerse yourself.

If you commit yourself to continuing education, what is better, one day per week, or fully enrolling?

At work, if you begin a project, but only work on it two days per week, wouldn't you be so much better off committing fully until you are finished?

Look at the chart below, which I pulled from a project management site - higher involvement increases commitment naturally and visa-verse. 

In my opinion, so goes with relationships.  I've been accused of being a serial monogamist.  The thing is, once someone has my heart, I have a very hard time trying to get to know other fabulous young men.  I am a full advocate of everyone working into commitment/exclusivity on a timeline that works for them, but it needs to happen. Even with my gym routine, I started out with three days per week for a year, then four days per week for a year, etc. and only when I was fully committed did I see the best results.

If a man has caught my attention and I his, we deserve the opportunity to find out what the relationship could or couldn't be.  In order to fully consider a relationship and the positives or negatives it could have in my life, I feel the best route is some sort of consistency of involvement on the horizon.

What do you think?*

Is commitment - aka exclusivity- a necessary step in dating?  How long have you dated before becoming exclusive with your significant other and others past?   Have you ever walked away from a great relationship because the other person wouldn't commit?

*I have received a lot of feedback in regards to how I feel about "levels of commitment."  I apologize for the miscommunication - that wasn't my intended question.  My intended questions are the actual questions I asked in the last paragraph.


S.R. Braddy said...

Commitment IS very important in a relationship. If you aren't willing to commit - at least in the short term - you won't know if you can make it in the long term.

HOWEVER, premature commitment will hobble you. The only relationship I've ever been involved in that I've regretted became exclusive pretty much after the first date. So there IS a balance to be struck there.

Unknown said...

All relationships require commitment to progress. If you or the other person involved stops increasing the level of commitment, the relationship stops growing. If you are more committed to your "bff" than your "significant other" (I don't like either of these titles very much) then your other must not be very significant.

Walking away from a relationship sucks. But if your goal is marriage, expecting commitment is essential to the relationship. If you are committed and they cannot or will not meet you there, then you either change your goal or change your relationship. Staying in an uncommitted relationship keeps you from achieving marriage. This hurts to hear for a lot of people, but single-and-looking is better than dating-but-not-sure-where-this-is-going.

Shayla said...

I agree. Once you decide to commit to something, it turns into something more amazing.
That being said, I did test drive multiple cars before committing to "the one".
I really liked the first one. A LOT. I drove the second one, and liked it, but kept going back to the first one. Then a third--still loved the first. Had the papers in hand to sign the first and then found out about the fourth. So I thought I'd give that a try...why not? I mean, I'd dabbled a lot with the first, but hadn't actually signed the "commitment" in writing.
And I'm glad I didn't because the one I fell in love with was the last one I drove. But once I drove it? I knew I loved it. There was no turning back. Love and commitment abounded. :)

Mr. Defective said...

I get the idea that what you're asking for is less about commitment in an established relationship and more about commitment in the dating process that happens before that. I think we can all agree that commitment in a relationship is very important.

I think in any long term goal you need to be committed. So if you have a goal: "I wan't to get married", for example, then you would want to be commited from the start even before you went on a date. But I don't mean to say you need to treat your first date like you're going to get married. I think we have to ask what it is in the dating process you should be commiting to.

For me, one of my commitments during dating is to get to know the other person. Period. For example, someone decides to not go on another date because the other person has a weird laugh (not the greatest example), but they hardly even know them. I've decided that I'm commited to getting to know them regardless so I can make a better informed decision. You'd hate to lose out on a great relationship because of something small.

If two people have this kind of commitment on the same date, you can imagine there's some potential for a good date regardless of what they're doing. As things progress I think the level of commitment rises. Let me give a loose example:

Bill's Commitment Chart:
Dating: Get to know them
Relationship: Get to know them, develop a working relationship, meet needs.
Marriage: Get to know them, develop a working relationship, meet needs, build a life together.

Um, this chart lacks a lot of details, but you get the idea. As things move along the level of commitment rises. There's commitment when simply dating but it's not as large as say marriage. So the real question someone should ask themselves is what should they be committed to, and when.

On the question of how long should date before going exclusive, I don't think there is a set time. I believe when both people are ready, they should go for it. The key word "ready" and not "excited". I've seen too many people get in relationships because they got excited but they weren't ready.

I hope that helps. Sorry that was so long, I can never give short answers to these kind questions.

Lisa said...

Commitment is important in any relationship. But for it to grow it needs to be on the part of both people. You can go ahead and give it your all, but if the other is not that committed it might not grow into anything. You certainly don't want to be putting all you have into a relationship for an extended period of time when the other person isn't putting forth a similar level of commitment.

Julie said...

Yes, exclusivity is essential to a relationship, but you have to want to be exclusive to some degree and often the two parties are on different levels. It is truly a miracle when both parties are at the same place at the same time. When that happens, take advantage of it. And you can't force someone into commitment. You bring something to the table, and so do they. Evaluate. Go from there. And don't get mad if that person isn't there, because you want that same courtesy extended to you.

Anonymous said...

I believe commitment is most definitely a necessary step in dating. Otherwise, it will never lead to the ultimate goal of marriage. It comes to a point in dating (all relationships are different, of course, and this point will most likely present itself at different times) where you must decide if the relationship is progressing, and therefore commitment/exclusivity is necessary to continue progressing, or that you are simply spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. I don't think this is always an easy call to make, especially since there are two people, and their individual agency, involved.

I've personally never had to walk away because someone else wouldn't commit, but from an outsider's perspective... if he doesn't want to commit to just you... then hun, he's just not that into you. Which is a shame because you're one of the greatest girls I know. Maybe try talking to him about why commitment seems to be a problem... Is it a timing thing? A trust thing? Because otherwise, even though it'll probably hurt... you probably need to just move on. Which is easier said than done, I know. If all else fails, I know some guys who would probably beat the crap out of him, if you'd like... ;)

Jon said...

I love what Shayla shared.
There are certain blessings that can only come through commitment. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the media teaches society exactly the opposite. Think of the physical relationships traditionally associated with varying levels of commitment, contrasted to "friends with benefits" and one night stands. Many of today's guys have decided they can get what they want without being tied down to one person. Obviously most of them overlook or don't care enough about the good things that can only come from committing to exclusivity.
That being said, I think it's good to hold off commitment until you're both ready to commit. Just make sure to give the other party reason to commit, by making it clear which aspects of a relationship you're reserving for exclusivity.

Camille said...

I feel like after several years of waiting for men in my life to want to commit... hanging on the word "maybe"... that I wasted a lot of time. Truth is you can't progress in a relationship and in life without commitment... without it, you are in eternal, groundhogs day dating purgatory. And let's face it, after a few months of that (let alone years) it would drive anyone crazy.

Life is happy and good when you are allowed to care for and love someone who cares for and loves you back... there is something very complete about that. If a man isn't willing to participate, and then blame it on a woman's emotional needs... he's not the right man for you.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this. And I think that people's perception of commitment varies. There are those that when they are committed they are in full heart, and that's how they commit. But then I think that there are those that their commitment shows differently. That is why communication is so important. Making sure you are on the same page, know each others expectations. There may have to be some compromising on both ends. As far as a time frame as long as you don't lead someone on then it could take some time.

I think there is a huge problem with commitment. Single adults don't like to commit to anything. That's why I don't like to throw parties sometimes because people wont commit to come in case they get a better offer. It drives me nuts!!!!

As far as dating exclusively I think it comes a point where you either commit or pull the plug.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest. I don't think I have much to contribute to this discussion. I've never been in a long-term, committed dating relationship. I DO know that my friendships wouldn't work if both people aren't willing to make a little effort. I think that's one of the reasons one of my friends drives me so crazy, because she only calls when there's big news or a birthday, but won't return my calls at other times. If you need a "big" excuse to see each other, it's more difficult to keep it going.

Okay, maybe I did have a little to contribute. I hope some of it was coherent :)

Anonymous said...

It seems like you're talking about 2 different kinds of commitment in
your post. There's relationship commitment, as in "I'm committed to
dating just this one person to see where its going to go, and there's
a level of trust between the two of us about what kind of things we
can expect in the relationship". I think that's essential to finding
out whether there's long-term viability in a relationship, because I don't think we really get to know another person until they trust us enough to feel comfortable being themselves with us.

You also talk about committing to a diet/workout plan/schooling/projects at work in terms of how many days a week you put into it, and I think that's a different kind of commitment, that seems to be more about how you prioritize things. I think I can be very committed a project at work, without working on it every day.
Sometimes other things are more urgent, etc. I would have a hard time committing long-term to a diet/exercise plan that I didn't feel was sustainable, i.e. that in the end I would get burned out and just not want to exercise at all. I felt lucky to be able to go to school full-time, but for some people they need to work to pay tuition and trying to do work and school full-time could result in actually getting less out of school than taking a load that you can handle.

Not sure if you were asking for feedback on how that kind of commitment applies to relationships. I definitely think that one's relationship with a significant other (potential spouse) should be a very high priority in terms of time commitment, but there definitely
has to be a balance between the other responsibilities of life (job, church commitments) as well as having time for one's own interests/hobbies.

My own personal experiences with commitment in dating? Generally if I like someone well enough to kiss them then I'm in "let's do this and
see where it goes" mode. So generally if I've had 3 or 4 good dates then I'm probably thinking about being exclusive, if I weren't
already. Obviously an exclusive relationship takes two people though.
:) I have dated someone for a few months (maybe 3) without a solid
commitment from them, and then they did commit to exclusivity, but the time in between when I was ready and they were ready was a difficult time for me. As far as I can remember I haven't ever walked away from a "great" relationship because the other person was unwilling to commit.
How "great" can it be if they aren't willing to be committed
to it?

I guess I'm a little biased because I generally see dating as a step toward marriage, and that implies that there would be some exclusive dating along the way. I imagine that some people see dating primarily as something else (a great friendship, a chance to get some action, etc), and they may not look at what makes a relationship "great" the same way I do.

stephanie said...

I think if you know the person well enough, you know what their motivations are, so as you're dating them you can start to get to know them and how they treated other relationships in their lives (not just dating too). Sometimes the person is scared to move on and has a hard time getting to know others (they're shy) or the person is just not feeling it or likes to play or (the best case scenario) they are careful daters and want to date right before making a firm commitment. However, sometimes daters don't know why they are pulling away from the other--they think it's because they're trying to be careful, etc. And though everyone has different dating habits, I am also a firm believer of 'he/ she is not that into you.' Meaning, if they seem to be going the opposite way--making excuses not to be with you A LOT of the time, aren't asking you out or accepting your invitations, flirting with other people, etc, then you need to accept the fact that this person doesn't like you as much as you like him/ her. There comes a time when you have to make a judgment call and decide when and if it's time to release this person and thereby release yourself to be able to bond and grow in other relationships--ESPECIALLY if you're the type who has a hard time dating many people at once (and we all know ourselves). Maybe you can keep the door open for the daters you are most interested in to come back when they are ready for something real (if you've discerned their reason is not because they like to play and/ or get action)--but of course, this person has to know that the door will close once you've found someone you share the same degree of commitment and interest with. If they're okay with that, once again, I think they weren't really that into you in the first place. I personally like accepting their first rejection (though keeping the door open in case they change their mind), so that I'm never rejected by them on a daily basis (like my first terrible dating experiences would attest)--this way I'm only rejected the one time, and I never get serious about dating this person unless they are serious too--that way I'm not living in endless anxiety and I don't get depressed if they flirt with someone else,etc. I've already been rejected, I'm already moving on, my heart is no longer on the line, I'm meeting other people and seeing if they're more compatible. Those are my thoughts anyway. Hope it helps not hinders ;-)

Teresa said...

If you continue to interact, there will be various factors to consider. You might investigate it further by chatting with couples therapist to rule out any unfavorable recommendations. Your approach has the potential to be significantly more effective. There will be some difficult terrain to ride, but you will be unafraid of it.