For many men (and women) it seems the word relationship has become a “bad” word. Remember when you were in grade school, worried about getting caught using one of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television?” These words were loaded. You discussed them with your friends. You questioned their meaning. You practiced saying them, hoping you wouldn’t be caught, or that you had enough zest behind each one so that the syllables would roll off your tongue easily. Flawlessly.
And in this same way, I hear women questioning the use of the “r” word. Relationship. Wondering if merely mentioning it will make a man run. Wondering if by stating that they are looking to be in a relationship with a man, the person whom they are dating will perceive this as vile, lewd, inappropriate and plain ole’ icky.
Alert: The word, “relationship,” is, in fact, not a bad word!
There is absolutely no need to avoid this word when you are dating someone whom you are beginning to care about. However, it must be used correctly. Thus, it is imperative that in using the word “relationship” in conversation you remember the following guidelines:
1. After approximately one month of dating consistently, it is appropriate to let your date know that you are “now in a place in your life where finding a committed, long-term relationship has become one of the values which you hold as important.” In communicating your values, you are now sharing something with your date that will enable him or her to know who you are on a deeper level. Telling him that relationship is important to you, is akin to telling him that you place value on things like family, travel, or spirituality. Notice this: In using these words, you are NOT telling your prospective partner that you want a relationship with him, right now. Instead, you are merely checking in with him to open up a conversation in which you collect new information—does this person have the same value as you regarding relationship. Thus, the world relationship is not “loaded.” Instead, discerning if you share the same values is merely information you collect in the process of “Data Dating,” which is the time spent getting to know someone in which you collect data about him/her while connecting through the shared experiences you have on dates together.
2. Do not ask him if he is wants to be in a “relationship.” It is true what the dating gurus say, that men will often vanish when you bring up the word relationship. However this vanishing often occurs when you ask him if he wants to be in a relationship with you using language like, “where is this going?” or “how do you feel about us?” Notice that in these examples you are no longer talking about values. Instead, you are putting him on the spot, as if you are demanding to know what he feels about you now, in this moment. Don’t do this.
3. Men are attracted to women who are confident. In sharing your value of relationship, it communicates that you are excited about this part of your life, that you hope to find love; that you want to experience intimacy, commitment, passion and love in new, deeper ways than you have ever before. As a result of sharing this excitement, you vibrate at a high energetic frequency. You emanate confidence. You know what you want. This is hot! Men find this attractive. And while the man with whom you are speaking might not be at this place in his life, he will know that he has attracted a smart, confident woman. And that you are someone who he can respect. And in this, you are a person who dates with dignity.
4. He might vanish. So what? Dating with Dignity Man Panelists nationwide report that when a man does the “vanishing act” after he has spent time with you, it is not because he is second-guessing your amazing-ness! In fact, when he disappears it is often because he has realized that he may not be in the place to be the man he wants to be—the man who can do what is necessary to have a successful relationship. Men need to be feel that they can confidently provide. That they can protect the woman they are with when necessary. If they do not feel settled, confident or able to show up as men, according to the definition they have created for themselves, they could pull back and withdraw. A man who is emotionally mature will be able to communicate this phenomenon adeptly when it comes up in the aforementioned discussion regarding relationship readiness. Never fear. You have attracted a man who is self-aware. Bravo. And, now that you have discerned that you are in different places in your lives, it is clear that it is time to move on to create space for the man who is ready to have a relationship.
5. Take responsibility. Ditch the “cool girl” mentality. It is appropriate and necessary to have needs as well as expectations. Stand in the power of knowing you are ready to love, to be loved whole-heartedly. It is an exciting time, wrought with possibility. There are men—one man—circling the universe looking for you. Create space. Let go of your past, the undeserved present, so he can find you. The man who will call you consistently. His words and actions will match. He will be excited to spend the weekend with you, longing to see again soon. He will text you back promptly. He will not vanish. He is ready, a man who is not frightened, offended or terrified of the word relationship.
There, I’ve said it.
Originally published on DatingWithDignity.com