Uncertainty can happen in your relationship whether you just started dating or you’ve been married for years. The dictionary defines the word uncertain as not known or definite. Synonyms of the word include unpredictability, doubtful, unreliability, riskiness, chanciness, inconstancy, fickleness. Can you use any of these words to describe your current relationship?
First of all, it’s important to know that uncertainty is a normal part of developing a relationship, and it is very likely early on you will feel uncertain. There are 5 stages of relationship building:
Uncertainty is a predictable stage of dating, ask any expert. This uncertainty by no means is an indication that he is the wrong guy for you though. In fact, if you assume uncertainty is a clue to end it then you will never get past that step to an exclusive relationship that will then lead to intimacy and commitment. Both men and women tend to feel uncertain when they are dating someone that they have a special connection with.
Recent research has shown that not all uncertainty in a relationship has negative consequences though. A certain level of uncertainty is believed to be beneficial to a relationship. However, the further along you go within a relationship, diminishing some of this uncertainty aids in building trust and intimacy with your partner. If you are experiencing uncertainty late in the relationship it can put a strain on your trust, commitment, and the quality of your relationship. A few studies have offered ways to diminish this uncertainty but one in particular deserves closer attention.
This particular study suggested that relational maintenance is essential in diminishing uncertainty and building the trust and intimacy most desired in a serious relationship. This relational maintenance is defined as the efforts put forth by the individuals to maintain, improve, or change their relationship. There are two different types of this maintenance. Strategic behaviors such as apologizing after an argument, writing a heartfelt message to your partner, or delivering flowers without prompting are relational maintenance techniques that go beyond what is required. The second type of relational maintenance is simple daily or routine behaviors, like regular day-to-day communications, task sharing, and other minor efforts made on behalf of the relationship.
It is important to engage in both types of relational maintenance throughout the course of your relationship. Strategic behaviors can increase the good relational uncertainty by providing excitement or surprise for your partner if they are not expecting it. This allows your partner to know you think of them daily and want to work to keep your relationship happy and healthy. The more routine behaviors associated with a relationship are perhaps even more important as they are necessary to maintain the functionality of the relationship and decrease the more negative relational uncertainty. These types of behaviors work to build a solid foundation for your relationship such that at some point, these behaviors become incorporated in your daily routine and you act upon them without a second thought. These types of behaviors aid in building trust with your partner that they will fulfill their role while your partner is reassured that you will fulfill your own role. It also shows that you are willing to help each other succeed.
“When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements
about which one can never be sure.”
The first stage of dating, Attraction, is a time to meet and get to know a variety of people. Attraction is the easy stage. Stage two is the time to focus on one and give that specific relationship a chance to grow into something more. It’s kind of important to know that men and women experience uncertainty differently.
When men are feeling uncertain they tend to question whether they want to pursue a relationship. These are generally the guys that have dating nearly every single gal in town and most people think he just can’t commit. He just can’t make it through the second stage of dating. He starts to find attraction for other women, and instead of sticking it out, he moves on to greener pastures.
This type of guy needs to look at himself, and see what it is that is holding it back. It’s not about the woman, it’s about his issues and concerns.
- Am I the right man for her?
- Do I care for her?
- Do I want to make her happy?
- Does is make me happy to see her smiling?
- Do I miss her when we are apart?
When a guy doesn’t know and accept the fact that uncertainty is part of the dating and relationship process, he is likely to get stuck in a pattern, and become a serial dater. Instead of looking at what he is putting into relationships he looks at what he can get out of it. By doing this constantly he risks missing a great opportunity with the right one.
In stage two of the dating game, a man must continuously test and experience the idea that he has the power to make this one single woman happy. He needs to be a provider, and do all the little things he can to make this woman be happy. During this stage there isn’t time for self-focus.
When women start to feel uncertain they tend to focus on where the relationship is actually going. You might feel like he’s pulling away from you, so in order to find reassurance you start to mess things up by making the wrong choices. Maybe you begin to question him about your relationship, like where it is going or whether it’s going to last. Or maybe you start doing things to try to get him to focus more on you. All the while you are just pushing him farther away and making him feel like he isn’t the right person for you.
Instead of asking yourself what you are doing wrong in the relationship, and what you should or could get from him, look at what you are getting. Does he make you happy?
In the uncertainty stage of dating, the woman tends to try to spread herself to thin and give to much to the man she is with. Instead of being clingy, this is the stage where you need to start giving him some space so that he can figure out his own feelings and not be pressured to make a commitment too soon. Don’t push him to share his feeling for you in this stage. Instead, keep your communication positive and friendly, no matter how you’re feeling inside. If he continues to see that you are happy and comfortable in your relationship he is more likely to get past his own doubts and uncertainties.
A Few Facts for your consideration…
- The 5 types of women men tend to avoid are serial flirters, someone who talks about marriage too soon, clingy women, the party-girl, and a woman who talks too much or is drama queen.
- A man’s top dating fears include that a woman will come between him and his friends, won’t allow him free time, will turn out to be a stalker, won’t respect him, or will be too high maintenance.
- Five common signs a man may be cheating in a relationship are that he accuses his partner of cheating, he’s extremely vague, he seems to be compensating by acting extra nice for no reason, he’s always at work, and his partner’s friends drop her hints.
- Signs that a man is about to break up with a woman include that he spends less time with her, he is no longer romantic, passionate kissing turns into quick pecks (particularly no kiss during sex), he fantasizes about someone else during sex, he pats her during a hug, and he tries to start fights.
How to get by uncertainty
The most important thing to remember when you find yourself in the uncertainty stage of dating is to be aware that this stage exists, and that there is just no way to avoid it. Don’t lose your cool and freak out. Just take it slow and know that once you make it over this bump in the road you will have made it to the next stage and all the ugliness of uncertainty will be behind you.
Also, know that you may enter a stage of uncertainty again, at some point. If some time has passed and you still haven’t moved forward in your relationship and you again are unsure of where you stand, maybe it is time to move on. Extended stages of uncertainty, or repeated ones because of a slow moving commitment, could mean that there really is a legitimate reason to be concerned. Maybe he isn’t the commitment type. Maybe he is seeing someone else and just hasn’t figured out how to tell you. There is no sense in continuing to be stressed out if a relationship just isn’t work or just isn’t moving along at a good pace. A constant feeling of uncertainty is just a sign that you are on the wrong path.
If we choose to, we can behave in a way that actually reduces the uncertainty that we give the other person in our relationship. It is simply about being honest about your feelings and keeping the lines of communication open. Resolve these feelings of uncertainty as they arise, instead of holding them in and letting them turn into fears.
Here are some ways to practice being more open, and allowing the uncertainty to work its way out:
- Turn toward your partner. Sometimes it seems easier to just turn away from other people when we are stressed, especially when we feel like they are part of what is stressing us out. Instead of turning away, make a habit of turning towards them to help you work through the stress.
- Stay engaged with your support system. When we are facing issues and stress, just like above, we tend to shut ourselves off and hide in our own little worlds. This is actually detrimental and it is important to have a support system, even beyond your partner.
- Anticipate and prepare for different outcomes. Always have a plan B, and maybe even a plan C. Things don’t always happen how we want them to, or how with think they will. It just makes sense to be prepared.
- Strengthen your coping skills. There are many ways to cope with uncertainty, stress, depression, and the other things that bother us when we are going through the stages of a new relationship. If you are informed about the stages, have a support system, and are mindful of the situation, you will get through it less scathed.
- Focus on what you can control. As humans we have a great tendency to focus on and worry about the things we can’t change. This does us no good, and only adds to our problems. When you focus on ways to embrace your uncertainty, you will find a new confidence in yourself and your partner.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
- Don’t jump the shark. You are just getting to know this guy, there is no reason to assume he is the one. Often we set ourselves up for failure and heartbreak when we see more in our relationships than there is, yet. Keep your expectations realistic, and you will put less pressure on him too.
- Don’t jump into bed too quickly. Get to know each other, go on a few dates before you hop in bed to with each other. Someone once said something about not buying the cow when you can get the milk for free. If you are easy, you will be easier to walk away from. Give him something to work towards, and take some time to see if you are mentally compatible before you detect your physical compatibility. Sex is also a way to bond in a relationship, which means if you are doing it too early you may bond too soon- before he is even ready to accept you as anything more than just an occasional date.
- Wait for introductions. Your friends and family don’t need to meet him right away. Wait until you’ve been dating at least a month, that way you can have time to get to know him yourself, before adding family into the mix. If after a month he doesn’t want to meet your friends and family there may be an issue.
- Have a mantra. Mantras are amazing and help you stay focused and positive. Tell yourself little things that help to soothe yourself. You can meditate on them, say them out loud, or even put them down on sticky notes around your house. Some good ones: “Focus on whether you like him, not whether he likes you,” “If it’s meant to be, he’ll call; if not, I’ll have more energy to look for someone else,” or “I am worthy of his love and affection, but I will not force it.”
- Accept the questioning. You must accept that you will have questions, it’s all part of the uncertainty stage. You can also accept that your questions may never be answered.
- Expand yourself. You need to be able to let all of this be a part of you, from the happiness to the uncertainty. It is all part of the dating process, and if you are unable to accept it, expect it and embrace it you are only setting your relationship(s) up for failure.
- Focus on the now. Don’t spend all day with your heads in the cloud thinking of what will be. Look at the now. Be happy with who your are now, and who he is. Enjoy these experiences for what they are, not what they will be. Instead of asking future questions that instill doubt and fear, ask questions that instill happiness and confidence. “How can I express my love more today?”
- Be grateful. Gratitude is so very important in living a fulfilled and happy life. Be in a mood of appreciation and gratitude for all of the wonderful experiences you are sharing with your partner. Gratitude is meant to be shared, so tell him how much you appreciate him and the things he does for you, and the way he makes you feel about yourself.
- Practice self-awareness. Be aware of what you are feeling. Be aware of the good and the bad. Understand that good and bad are both part of life. Most importantly, be aware that these things will pass.
- Nourish yourself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Yes, you want to make this relationship work, but if you neglect yourself in the process you are only hurting you. Have your own alone time, don’t forget about girls night out, and make sure you are being healthy. If your relationship is causing you to live an unhealthy lifestyle then it may be time to reevaluate the whole thing. Participating in activities and engaging in practices that keep you feeling good about yourself are very important. They will help you stay centered and expand your emotional capacity to deal with the uncertainty inherent in the initial phases of courtship.
- Be patient. Don’t be in a rush, your questions will get answered over time. Only time will tell if your relationship is meant to be, so wait patiently. Allow your love to flourish and take you where it wants to go. Enjoy the rush of your unfolding love, instead of worrying where it will lead.
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