Do we have a future? That’s the million-dollar question.
It can be confusing when you meet someone who seems like your perfect match, you have a great time together, but you feel like they’re holding back.
Perhaps you’re willing to go the full distance, but you sense that something is amiss.
When Fred first met Joe, their new relationship energy was off the charts.
Recently, Joe hasn’t been returning Fred’s calls, and Fred feels like Joe is pulling away.
Joe loves Fred, but there are other things he wants to do before he settles down.
Simply put, he doesn’t see himself getting married anytime soon.
Can you relate?
Are you in a relationship where the two of you never seem to talk about the future?
Maybe you’re ready to settle down, but you get the feeling your partner isn’t.
Read on to learn how to handle this delicate issue.
Cold Feet or Commitment Issues?
It can be difficult to distinguish between cold feet and commitment issues.
A determining factor is that people who experience cold feet are often open to talking about it.
On the other hand, those with full-blown commitment issues are more likely to shut down and refuse to acknowledge the problem.
Through our work at the Gay Couples Institute, we’ve seen that successful couples approach this dilemma without trying to convince the reluctant partner to change the way they think.
Instead, they have an open, honest conversation about it.
For Fred and Joe, that means Fred not trying to convince Joe to settle down and Joe not trying to persuade Fred to prolong their engagement while he fulfills all his premarital life goals.
It can be challenging to talk about this sort of thing, but difficult conversations are part and parcel of being in a relationship.
Both partners need to be able to acknowledge and talk honestly about complex issues, including cold feet and commitment-phobia.
Non-Monogamy: The Perfect Solution or the Final Nail in the Coffin?
Joe feels the two of them should open up their relationship so that Fred won’t feel lonely when Joe is busy living out his ambitions.
We have worked with many successful non-monogamous couples.
We have also worked with many successful monogamous couples.
Fred and Joe opening up their relationship may or may not have the desired effect.
The LGBTQ+ culture doesn’t have a fixed value system when it comes to relationships. Our paths aren’t set in stone, and we each find our own way – one that suits our unique needs.
Some couples are successful in monogamy, while others aren’t.
Recent developments such as the legalization of gay marriage have seen the broader culture begin to affirm our values and what they mean.
If you are dealing with commitment issues and considering making the switch to an open relationship, it may not be the ideal solution to the problem.
It could be like sticking a band-aid on an open wound.
It is always a smarter idea to address the underlying issues before you and your partner have any kind of discussion about sexual expression.
Dealing with a Partner Who Won’t Commit
What should you do if, like Fred, your relationship is great on paper, but your partner isn’t willing to commit fully?
If you find yourself in a situation where your partner doesn’t seem to be “all-in,” there are questions you can ask to try and figure them out.
These questions are not meant for problem-solving but rather, to allow your partner to open up and to help you understand their position better.
- Why is this important to you?
- What are your dreams?
- What do you want from this relationship?
- What is your worst fear about us getting married?
By asking these questions, you will open up a dialogue and begin to understand your relationship better. They are not meant to convince your partner to change their mind.
Remember, relationships take work. You won’t always be on the same page. Successful couples ask questions without trying to convince one another to dance to a different tune.
When we feel as though we’re being listened to, we listen in return.
Once you let your partner know you don’t expect them to make all the compromises in your relationship, they’ll be more open to your perspectives and opinions.
When Should You Call It a Day?
So, you’ve talked everything through with your partner and asked all the important questions, but still, the two of you can’t seem to reach an understanding.
Where do you draw the line and accept it’s just not going to work out?
w can you tell when your relationship is past its expiration date?
The key to knowing when to stop trying and move on is to ask yourself, “Have I done everything in my power to make this work?”
If the answer is yes, then you already know what to do. Move on.
However, if the answer is no, you need to ask yourself, “What more can I do?”
Are you and your partner at an impasse?
Maybe you want to take things to the next level, but your partner seems hesitant.
Visit us at gaycouplesinstitute.org to discover what is holding your relationship back and what you can do to move forward – with or without them.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org