Men Don’t Understand When They Are IN A RELATIONSHIP

| 06/30/2009 | Comments (0)

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A young man wrote me earlier today and asked what exactly the word "relationship" means to women.

"The term I struggle with definition wise is "relationship" – what is it women mean when they say they are in a relationship? To me just about any interaction with another could be called a relationship – good or bad – but women seem to use this term to mean something much more significant than that."

He’s right, technically. Whenever two people interact, they’ve formed a "relationship" of sorts, whether it be class mates working on a school project together, coworkers that share a cubicle, salesman/customer, etc.  For a finite period of time, those two people are relating in a manner that brings them both a specific, desired outcome.

When women use the term "relationship" that is just what they mean, with a little extra tacked on. 

When a woman is looking for a specific, desired outcome from their interaction with a person of the opposite sex, she labels their regular interaction as "a relationship."  A relationship is much more important in her life than a mere date.  A relationship usually includes sex for women.  Guys don’t get that if they have sex with a woman more than a couple of times, she is going to consider that "a relationship" whether you want it to be one or not! A relationship has a desired outcome for women  that includes love, involvement, a desire to move forward as a couple towards something like living together or marriage.  In other words, a commitment to coupledom.  In other words, you are her boyfriend, with all the obligations and responsiblities that title entails.

So guys, you can pretend that you don’t know you are in a relationship if you want to, but that won’t mean you aren’t in one.  definition of relationship, dating relationships, dating advice, dating tips, relationship advice

What you should do however is establish the boundaries and parameters for the relationship, so that the two of you are on the same page and know exactly what level of "relationship" you are on.   I suggest that you tell a woman you have recently began seeing that you two are involved in a very casual uncommitted dating relationship.  Don’t rush to lock anything down until you are sure it makes sense and that you two are compatible. Tell her that she is free to date other people, as are you, while you get to know each other better.  That is what I call a Level 1 Relationship.

And if there is interest in being together just the two of you, that you’ll talk about advancing to Relationship Level 2, which is a commitment to date and have sex with only each other.  Instead of focusing on looking for and getting to know one new person after another, you spend your free time with each other, learning and growing and having fun together.  Your friends and family know that you have a girlfriend/boyfriend now, and probably start inviting you to places as a unit.

Relationship Level 3 is a big step because it usually involves moving in together.  Being around someone 24/7/365 is huge.  Some people refer to this as "trial marriage" when in reality it is no such thing.  It’s like saying you are "partially pregnant" – you’re either pregant or not, married or not.  People usually choose to move in together because they are looking for something to be wrong in the relationshp so they can get out unscathed, instead of looking for what is right and putting their all into the relationship.  Compatibility is tested. 

Relationship Level 4 is reached when the two of you decide you want to be together for the rest of your lives, and take the next step to becoming engaged. Parents get happy phone calls, your single friends cry, and wedding plans are begun in earnest.  Sometimes expectations change due to the fact that people have fantasies about gender roles and what it means to be a husband or wife.  I suggest you talk about these visions and fantasies openly and honestly. It’s important that you each know what is expected of you and the marriage.  If you have some sticking points that are non-negotiable, your partner needs to know that before the walk down the aisle.  Love is not enough to sustain a marriage if each partner isn’t getting what they truly need from the other.  Find out what your partner needs and decide if you can or cannot meet those needs before you move on to the next level.  People that skip this step often end up divorced 18 months later.

When you finally take that walk down the aisle and say "I DO" you’ve reached Relationship Level 5.

Hope this explains the whole relationship thing for you guys, so that you can never again act surprised when the woman you’ve been seeing and sleeping with for the past six months suggests you two go away for a weekend to celebrate your six month anniversary!  Don’t you dare say you didn’t understand that you "were in a relationship."


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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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Category: Date Smarter, Not Harder, Men's Issues

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