If there's one thing I feel qualified to speak about, it's experiencing problems with commitment, in either direction.
This can be in terms of feeling uncomfortable committing to being vulnerable with another person on my end or debating whether the other person is even worth it.
Questioning whether the other person wants the same things that I want out of a relationship is always an age-old issue. We all want to keep our options open.
That's the unspoken secret
Every one of us wants to feel safe, and putting ourselves out there committing to another person – even if we really like them – is one of the scariest things you can do.
Taking a plunge is always going to risk sinking. But that will always be the case if you don't at least try to swim away from red flags!
Therefore, I advise all of you in long-suffering long-term relationships not to panic too much if he wants to keep his options open.
When he's ready it will feel right and your relationship can move forward.
It doesn't necessarily mean that he loves you any less than you love him – it could just mean that you express your affection differently. Where you might expect commitment and loyalty in the form of relationship markers and material gifts, he might value your time and attention in other ways.
Maybe he shows his commitment through planning trips with you, or visiting your family at Christmas rather than staying at home.
Yes, he may be slightly resistant to the idea of labeling your relationship as 'exclusive.'
But that doesn't mean he will always feel that way
In fact, this form of keeping his options open ensures that he remains honest with you and communicates his fears or insecurities with you. This means that you can address them directly rather than awkwardly avoid them until it causes issues later on.
I would rather have healthy communications now than a label of 'exclusivity' that doesn't mean much in practice. Commitment isn't learned overnight, no matter how much you want to be in a perfect relationship suddenly.
Sometimes, keeping your options open can ensure that he grows and builds up the skills necessary to truly embody a committed relationship, rather than just performing what he thinks you want out of him.
That's not a relationship with any healthy plans; that's just artificial love.
Furthermore, he might not want to immediately jump into an intense relationship when he may still get over his own trauma. Again, we can't get over our baggage from previous relationships just through sheer force of will.
Plunging into a committed relationship or getting too caught up on the relationship 'stages' can very quickly turn toxic if you don't mean them.
You only risk circular dating which has no future
The way to resolve a relationship that runs hot and cold is not to put all your eggs in one basket.
If he's definitely not over his ex, why commit? Indeed, if you're not comfortable with him mixing with female friends, then you're not ready either!
It isn't helpful to call each other boyfriend and girlfriend if neither of you is ready for that. It will only result in heartbreak to live your relationship how society expects you to.
Your relationship isn't only valid or 'moving in the right direction' if you build more and more commitment into it. There are also matters of intimacy and trust and honesty to build up before you get there.
Being comfortable with each other should come before you make huge commitments to each other, not after. It's just logistics, but Hollywood would have us all believe that love is only real if we call each other husband and wife.
Just because it isn't serious, it doesn't mean that the relationship isn't worth your time!
Also, just as we don't need all of our friends to be ride or die, sometimes it's good to have casual relationships.
We need to learn how to draw boundaries
Frankly, who doesn't love to feel free to flirt with fun people? Everyone is so interesting to talk to when you start paying attention, why not enjoy things casually?
To be honest, my brain and heart both need to learn how to feel things by degrees rather than absolutes.
And finally, if it is more important to you that your relationship is official on social media, you're probably both better off keeping your options open for now.
Don't rush it!