Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT
Many times, people are dating, and their relationship appears serious, but when is it appropriate to have THAT conversation? Are you too old to ask for commitment? Is it weird to say, "So, what are we?" I have had clients talk about the difficulties of dating and the uncertainty of their relationship. They want commitment, but they are scared to have a mature conversation, due to fear of pushing the other person away. It's not like we're in middle school anymore, and you can say, "Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend?... check yes or no." You're a grown-up, you're supposed to know these things. Right? WRONG! The problem is, people struggle with effective communication. That is the number one problem in relationships these days. So how do you communicate what you need and want without pushing the other person away? It can be hard, but there are steps to take to make sure you are getting the answers you want and communicating what you want effectively.
1. Be clear. Say what you want, don't beat around the bush. Do not just say what you think the other person wants to hear and make sure what you say matches your verbal and non-verbal language. If you do not directly tell how you feel or ask what you want, the other person is most likely not going to understand what you want, and you cannot expect someone to be able to fill in the blanks you leave in the conversation.
2. Listen to each other. Listening to someone is a skill, but it shows you're interested. It should be an equal balance of both listening and talking. Try to understand their point of view as well. Seeing things from their side is the best way to comprehend their feelings.
3. Show your emotions. It's important to be yourself. Let the person know you care but don't be too mushy. Many times people are afraid to be "weak," but it's essential to let the person know they are not alone with the feeling that it is mutual. Do not be fake with your emotions either, as it can mislead the conversation.
4. Ask for feedback. It's important not to read too much into that but ask, "How are you doing? What did you think of that?" Sometimes when we speak, it is interpreted differently; it is important to check-in with your partner to clarify any miscommunication. If you are not sure what your partner means about something, ask them to elaborate. It is more comfortable to ask exactly what they say instead of figuring it out in your head after.
5. Find the right time. Be considerate of your partner’s plans. Don't expect to have a serious conversation in the middle of a football game or before a big interview. Think about when it would be best to get the best response and have your partner's full attention.
Are you having trouble finding the right words for your partner? Neurofeedback & Counseling Center of Pennsylvania virtual counseling makes it possible to access the support from a compassionate Harrisburg PA therapist, even when you're following social distancing guidelines. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at https://www.neuroandcounselingcenter.com/contact/.