The Dating Contract:
Relationships go through stages of different degrees of commitment. Partners in a relationship may have different ideas as to what degree of commitment there partner owes them. There is an unwritten commitment contract. As with all contracts those involved will be better off if they have a clear understanding of what it is.
Just because we want someone to be committed to us doesn't mean they owe us that commitment. If we try and force the person to commit to us we may lose them altogether. If we give the other person the freedom they want they may eventually choose to commit to us. My girlfriend told me the most helpful wisdom about dating that she ever read was that if you give men freedom they will come back to you but that if you are too possessive they will leave you. She read this in a book by John Gray called Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus.
If we have a contract with someone we have a right to expect that the contract be fulfilled but no right to demand more than is in the contract just because we want more. If we become angry at someone for not giving us more they will not feel appreciated for what they are giving us and will be likely to give us less. A vicious cycle can be created in which we become angry at our partner for not being faithful and that drives them away so that they are even less faithful so that we are even more angry. This cycle can escalate till we lose the person we love. If we show appreciation to our partner for what they are giving us they may someday give us more.
Mariah Carey wrote a song called Butterfly relating to freedom in relationships. The first three stanzas are:
When you love someone so deeply
They become your life
It's easy to succumb overwhelming fears inside
Blindly I imagined I could
Keep you under glass
Now I understand to hold you
I must open my hand
And watch you rise
Spread your wings and prepare to fly
For you have become a butterfly
Fly abandonedley into the sun
If you should return to me
We truly were meant to be
So spread your wings and fly
Although there is wisdom in this song, letting your partner be free does not mean accepting her breaking her dating contract with you or related agreements with you.
There are times when it may be in your best interest to pressure your partner for commitment. There are cases where that losing that partner might be preferable to indefinitely living together. I knew someone whose partner would never commit to her, she demanded commitment, he refused and she found someone else and is now married. It is likely that there are situations where the threat of the woman leaving will cause the man to commit.
Self Help Home Page
Social Skills Home Page
Table of Contents