Relationships flow naturally. Most romantic relationships go through somewhat similar stages that allow good foundations to be built; Crushing, Questioning, Committing, Trusting and Engagement. I used to want to skip through the first stages of a relationship straight to the commitment piece because I had fear connected to the initial stages.
I would meet a guy. I would be friends with a guy. I would start to like a guy. I would want the guy to come right away and talk to me about knowing that we should be together. I would want each party to ‘just know’ and take any of the choice or uncertainty out of the process. Not a good plan…….
2) Questioning: Make a good choice in the midst of options
As the relationship moves forward, that crush leads to a time of questioning. Last week we looked at Respecting the Crush (See previous blog). When this time of uncertainty and questioning comes, we can tend to want a commitment from the man or woman involved a little prematurely. More often, it seems the women want this, but it can go both ways. This isn’t realistic though. This period of time in a relationship usually has sporadic times of meeting up or occasional dates. From initial attraction and respecting the crush to the questioning stage, authentic invitation from the woman and pursuit from the man is of utmost importance. Both parties are questioning the relationship; there are normal levels of uncertainty combined with each person’s own core value system and way of making decisions that are in play at this stage. These are all important.
This time period of questioning can be very short if you have a man and woman who actually know what they want in a future mate. Where it gets confusing and drawn out is when one or both parties have no idea in the world what they’re looking for.
Most men trust their gut feeling when thinking about pursuing a woman. They won’t pursue a woman unless they feel good when around that woman. They won’t pursue a woman that hasn’t invited them to. That means that the authentic invitation is given often and with no expectation from the woman if there’s interest at this point in time. Relationship is a choice. Both parties have the same ability to choose the other person and this makes commitment a precious and valuable commodity.
In the questioning stage, it is important for the man to pursue in response to the authentic invitation and if he is interested, even with questions still in play, multiple meet ups or dates are important in this time period. This will help answer the questions and both parties will be able to make the decision if they would like to continue to see where this relationship may go.
This stage of questioning cannot be rushed. Many want to sit down and define a relationship before a good decision for commitment can be made. Women need to understand this period of time and actually enjoy it. Men shouldn’t have a conversation about commitment too prematurely without walking through this questioning stage, as many times, this will lead to pressure that can short circuit the relationship. We must see the value in the question and trust that God’s leading us to the right answer.
Men, it’s important to have a defining the relationship talk at the correct time, which is not in the questioning stage. I know Christian men feel a lot of pressure to make their intentions known very soon, sometimes too soon, which, in turn leads to big messes later when the woman finds them backing out of the relationship quickly because they weren’t ready to make that type of commitment.
This second stage can be tricky to navigate, but it can be done well and in maturity. Women can tend to want to be assured that a man is committed to them from almost the moment they meet. This is not how we as humans are built. We’re built to make choices and decisions in process based on what we desire and taking into account lots of different aspects in a relationship before making a commitment. This is a good thing. A good choice is made in the midst of options. This sounds scary to some, but we need to be able to navigate this as we journey through dating and into a committed relationship. Women who feel valuable are able to navigate this stage with grace and openness. Men who are confidant and understand that a relationship naturally takes it course will be able to navigate this well. If the relationship is good, it will move forward naturally and both parties will feel good about the process. If there is lack of value personally, usually one or the other will run away from the relationship because it feels too scary to navigate. There’s a healthy way to discontinue a dating relationship that doesn’t involve running.
Taking the pressure off of both parties during this stage is important and allows both the man and woman’s mind and heart navigate the questions to a good conclusion. Both parties should look at the relationship and know that they’ll be ok if this does not lead to a commitment; it’s part of the process and healthy. This is a fine line that requires maturity and counsel to walk out well. Make sure you have both as you embark into this stage.
This is the stage where you’re both getting to know each other from surface level to going deeper into core values for life. This should happen over a period of time and at least a few dates. Go with your feeling. If you like what you’re discovering about each other, continue on. Make sure the dates are both fun and leave room for conversation. Let the man pay in this stage on dates and initiate them, and the women should be very open and inviting if the interest is growing. Authentic invitation and pursuit are so imperative in this stage if your interest continues to grow. The next stage of relationship is Committing which we will address next week.
Excerpt from the book Love Unstuck; Be the Leading Lady by Wendee Mannon, CEO of OnDaySix.com
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net