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Did You Review These Before You Committed to Your Partner?

Steven Losardo, AMFT

You began your dating relationship before the Covid-19 restrictions started. Once the pandemic hit, you were able to adjust. There was careful planning for dates and spending time in each other’s homes that included testing and waiting for negative results. Further, before getting intimate, you were “quarantining for two weeks without symptoms — before close, mask-free proximity” (Sarmiento, 2020). You even ran an assessment of each other’s community transmission rates, preexisting conditions or health risks, and risk of the activity planning for safety (Sarmiento, 2020).

Today, the emotional connection from the relationship is part of your everyday life. However, you have begun to assess this dating relationship’s rewards and benefits and cannot seem to make an evaluation. In part, the pandemic has brought some confusion, and you begin questioning your motivation for being in this relationship. You feel stuck, and maybe even more than during your quarantine period. Next, this blog will highlight some areas to focus on in the hope that you can gain some clarity. 

Spending Time Together

First, you can check-in on the amount of time you spend together. Time spent with a potential mate clarifies whether there is a relationship underfoot (Verdolin, 2019). Next, review what the relationship is doing during that time. Examine if you are still building romance and passion. Check-in and see if you are kissing the same amount as when you met. Are you going on dates together including, planning, preparing, and making it exciting? By now, you should have a dating habit of at least once a week, and the energy you put forth matters.

Next, look at the information to see if you are getting to KNOW your partner. Think of KNOW-ing your partner as life-long research that never ends. It should be an honor to hear about your partner’s future hope and dreams. An example is you know your partner really likes it if you do things around the house.  Additionally, cherish their vulnerabilities and appreciate that your partner picks you to share them. It would be best if you have consistent and positive interactions and compliments as well. You should find yourself embracing differences and not trying to change them. The time should feel life-changing and exciting. “You most often respond to each other’s needs for confiding, having fun together, and laughing together” (Gottman, 2017).

When kissing or having sex, be aware that things can get intoxicating. This experience comes with oxytocin release, a bonding hormone known as the love or cuddle drug. It builds trust, overall psychological stability and provides a surge of positive emotion. While “under the influence,” it is not a good time to make decisions about relationship commitment (Gottman, 2017). An example might be thinking, “I need to be with this person every second of the day.” If that is the case, hit the pause button. Ensure you are not skipping the steps to knowing, commitment, loyalty, reliability, and trust phases. Honing this skill will help make clear decisions and clarify the meaning of the relationship between yourself and your partner (Hawkins & Clyde 2018).

Grade your relationship

Look for equality or “power to” in your relationship. “Power to” comes with respect, humility, emotional intelligence, empowerment of the other, listening with empathy, and desiring self-regulation (Fishbane, 2013). In conflict, each partner can hold and share their view, listen well, accept their partner’s perspective, not put them down, and comprise (Gottman & Gottman 2016).

While reviewing conversations, see if Gottman’s four horsemen show up. They are defensiveness (not accepting responsibility), criticism (complaining that sounds like “you have a defect”), or stonewalling (emotional withdrawal from the conversation). Finally, the fourth is contempt. Contempt will sound like, “you’re an idiot,” while the speaker holds an “I am the superior attitude.” Contempt is the most significant predictor of divorce. As a couple, you should have the skills to identify these, choose to repair the problems, and draw closer together during the process. (Gottman, 2017). 

Can you answer each of these with “Yes?”(Cloud and Gottman Adapted)

  1. Can you connect emotionally?
  2. There is freedom, separateness, and your own choices?
  3. Respect limits and “no?”
  4. Do both possess self-control and discipline?
  5. Is there a perfectionist?
  6. Are you able to enjoy life and relationship?
  7. Can you face pain, weaknesses, and problems?
  8. Do you each have a set of passions, pursuits, and interests of your own?
  9. Do both have some capacity to help others?
  10. No pride or arrogance?
  11. Respect for authority?
  12. Does not avoid conflict?
  13. We are growing in life and, if applicable, spirituality?
  14. There are not emotional problems left unfaced?
  15. Know their relationship history?
  16. Communicate and do not shut down?
  17. There are no addictions, envy, jealousy, resentment hanging around?
  18. Is empathy and concern for hurting, weak, and less fortunate showing up?
  19. Are there long-term friends?
  20.  Little drama around?
  21. Anxiety and depression are not impacting the relationship?
  22. You both build up in the inner person, helping decrease insecurities?
  23. There is an ability to forgive?
  24. Protect each other from conforming into a value not lining up with their own?

Pre-Covid-19 Considerations

Check yourself and see if you are relating the same as you did before Covid-19. Be on guard and see if you are ignoring warning signs you did respond before the pandemic. Are you settling for less because you got through five months of Covid-19 precautions to get to this point? If Covid-19 sets you free tomorrow, are you looking for your soulmate or “the one?” If you answer “yes,” check-in and examine what might be going on for you. You may be you are avoiding commitment. “The one” should be “the one” that is known, trusting, reliable, loyal, and has commitment. You feel alive and your best self in this very moment with them. While you may both seek growth throughout life, however, you are always more than enough to the other. There is no better version of you that your partner is waiting on. If all of these seem to line up, and there is a lot of ambivalence, you may have a commitment issue.

Contact Symmetry Counseling to learn more about couples therapy in Chicago, and explore our therapists to connect with one today.  

References

Clyde, T. L., & Hawkins, A.J. (2018). Effective marriage preparation for the next generation is

more important than ever. Retrieved on August 1, 2019 from: https://ifstudies.org/blog/effective-marriage-preparation-for-the-next-generation-is-more-important-than-ever

Fishbane, M. D. (2013). Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology and Couple Therapy

  (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). WW Norton & Company.

Gottman, J.  (2017). Level 1 Clinical training manual: Gottman method couple

therapy. Seattle, WA: The Gottman Institute Inc.

Sarmiento, I. (2020). Coronavirus FAQs: What are the new dating rules? And what about

hooking up? Retrieved on January 28, 2021, from:

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/09/11/911991077/coronavirus-faqs-what

are-the-new-dating-rules-and-what-about-hooking-up

Verdolin, J. (2019). 3 Sure Signs of Relationship Development. Retrieved on January 28, 2021

from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wild-connections/201907/3-sure-signs

relationship-development

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