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Broaching the ‘C’ Talk With Him
By Jason Michael, author of The Trouble with Men – Understanding the Male Mind. Published by New Holland, RRP $24.95.

It can be a rather nerve-wracking situation when it comes to broaching the “where are we heading in the relationship? discussion—or commitment—talk with your man. The thought of deeper commitment or marriage seems to conjure up a dreaded image for many men of being tied to the proverbial ball and chain. They also fear that they will completely lose their independence.


In every relationship, the time will eventually come when there is a need to know where it?s heading. Many men freak out when the commitment discussion suddenly pops up, especially if it?s broached early in a relationship. They are often unprepared for it, particularly if an ultimatum is served. When this happens, they may become defensive and feelings are bound to get hurt.


Be realistic with your expectations by not moving forward in too big a leap. For instance, if you have been dating for a few months but only see each other once a week, it may not be a good idea to start laying ultimatums on him. Don?t freak him out with an unrealistic expectation. You could end up finding yourself alone, especially if this was the reason he split from a previous relationship.


Once you have honestly clarified your own relationship goals, consider his position. For instance, has he introduced you to his family yet? Does he include you when making future plans? Does he enjoy spending time with you? Is he comfortable and relaxed when he?s with you? Does he take you with him when he visits his friends and relatives? The answers to these types of questions should give you a good indication of his current perception of the relationship.


You also need to take into account timing and environment before instigating the commitment talk with him. These are factors that can affect his response. You want to catch him at a time when he?s not feeling stressed, is not focused on something else and can provide you with his undivided attention. Don’t make the error of bringing it up when family or friends are around. You will only be putting him on the spot and this may backfire on you. Rather, take advantage of a time when you?re both alone and feeling really connected. When he’s feeling closer to you, he?ll be more receptive to discussing the future with you.


Choose your words carefully. Don’t make demands like, “Listen, we really have to seriously talk.” This may prompt him to instantly put up a barrier, thinking he is about to be criticised or interrogated for something. Avoid starting the discussion with questions like, “Where do you see our relationship heading?” He could be hesitant about responding, especially if he is unsure of your intentions. Start off with a positive statement that makes him feel good. Reinforce how much you enjoy being with him and what he means to you. Articulate what you feel are his appealing qualities and how these make him special. This will pave the way in making him feel more comfortable with defining his inner feelings to you.


If he does love you but feels a little wary of a deeper commitment at this stage or needs a tad more time, try to refrain from instantly losing it with him. Don?t coerce him into giving you a firm commitment there and then, as this might cause him to withdraw from you. Rather, ask him if there?s something specific that?s hindering his willingness to settle down with you at this point. Perhaps it?s a lack of security in his current employment or a lack of finances that?s holding him back. It could be a general concern that he has about you or the relationship which requires further discussion.


This is the time to find out the reason or reasons behind his commitment-phobia and ascertain if these can be resolved. Based on your discussion, if you determine that he is worth the wait, make an agreement to revisit the matter within an agreed timeframe. Use the time leading up to this to also hang out with other happily connected couples. That way he will learn to understand that life and fun don?t have to come to an abrupt end when a relationship deepens.


When the time finally comes around to revisit the matter, this time have him lead the way in how and where he feels the relationship is going. Once you both feel comfortable with raising the commitment level, take things slowly to give him some time to adjust emotionally. The truth is men do not necessarily fear the idea of commitment itself. They do desperately fear becoming involved with the wrong partner in a relationship. He will need assurance that he?s made the right decision. Be willing to accommodate his needs and allow him a reasonable amount of freedom so that he doesn?t feel smothered by you.


Once you find yourselves forming a deeper bond, plans such as taking on a mortgage or starting a family should be handled mutually. This way you will feel like equal partners. Treating one another as equals and respect will follow.


Alternatively, the commitment talk with him could determine that you?re just wasting your time on him or he still wants to keep his options open. Send him packing out of your life if this is the case. If he’s totally against discussing the future with you then he?s likely indicating that he doesn?t see you two being together for the long haul.


The fact is men respect women who know what they want and won?t take being messed about. You both need to be honest with your views and ensure that a future together is seriously contemplated first before taking the plunge. Once he weighs up the pros and cons, he may just figure out that he?s better off settling down with a good woman who loves him. This may prove to be a more appealing alternative for him than forever chasing women and remaining a bachelor for life.

What do you think? Should women bring up the commitment talk or wait for it to happen naturally?