Have you ever been in a relationship, or maybe you’re currently in one, where the issues in the relationship leave you feeling anxious and insecure?
You’ve invested so much of your time and energy into this relationship, in fact you love this person. You have an amazing connection and believe you’re great for each other, but the issues aren’t going away and it’s really wearing on your patience and self-esteem?
Maybe they’re going through a tough separation or divorce or still trying to heal from the end of their marriage. Whatever they’re going through, maybe it’s occupying them physically and emotionally to a point where you’re really frustrated at the lack of consistent emotional availability and lack of commitment...and you’re wondering if the relationship is going to work out.
And you're wondering: How long should you wait for them to commit? And how do you know when you've waited long enough?
This is a very personal question – meaning there is no cut and dry answer to this, no specific figure or length of time that I can offer you because knowing whether you’ve waited long enough depends on your values. And values are highly personal.
But the short answer is: you know you’ve waited long enough when you’ve spent more than you’re willing to spend.
You know you’ve waited long enough when the cost of waiting becomes greater than what you’re waiting for.
And what that means is, knowing when you’ve waited long enough depends on what truly matters to you.
Assuming you want to be happy in a long-term relationship with the man you’re dating, you need to know whether you’re compatible enough to grow together instead of growing apart. This means that you need to both share a vision for the kind of life and relationship that you want, and you need to know that your needs and requirements will be met. Otherwise, you’re not going to be happy in the relationship long-term.
Ask yourself: how does it make you feel to wait? What are you feeling while you’re waiting? And how long do you want to keep feeling that way? Or put another way: what is it costing you to wait? And how long do you want to keep paying that price?
Also, check in with your attitudes about love, relationships, and dating. What do you ultimately want in a deeply fulfilling relationship? Are you unconsciously settling for less than what you really want?
Sometimes people settle for less than what they really want because they don’t believe that they can get what they really want. But the thing is when you settle for less, you get less.
So ask yourself: how much do you value your time?
It’s like waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Except dating and relationships are much higher stakes. When you’re waiting to be seated at a restaurant, it’s costing you a bit of your time and comfort. Maybe you’re getting hungry while waiting. Maybe you have to wait outside in cold weather. And the most you’ll wait is probably 45 minutes. Maybe an hour and a half if you really want to dine there.
But in dating and relationships, if you’re feeling anxious waiting for something to happen, you’re not only paying with your time, you’re also paying with your emotional well-being. And you’re paying with the opportunity to otherwise meet someone else who is wonderful and ready and available to commit to you right now.
Every opportunity comes at a cost.
This is not about viewing relationships as transactions. But the discomfort and frustration from waiting precisely comes from your needs not being met. And as long as your needs are not being met, you’re not going to feel happy or fulfilled or secure in the relationship.
So how long you’re willing to wait for them to meet your needs depends on the value you put on your time, the value you put on your needs, and your sense of urgency around having those needs met.
What If You’re in Love? Does Your Relationship Have a Chance?
They love you. You love them. You have an amazing connection.
You probably are perfect for each other if we’re talking about the love and connection you have.
Except, there is a difference between being in love and being ready for a relationship.
You can be deeply in love with each other, have an amazing connection, but not be ready for a committed relationship.
Because being ready for a relationship entails a number of things, including being emotionally available for a new relationship.
And if they’re not emotionally available for a relationship with you because, for example, they still have feelings for an ex (even if they might rationalize those feelings with thoughts like “It’ll never work out between me and my ex,”), the fact that they still have feelings for an ex undermines the long-term viability of your relationship.
Because as long as they still have feelings for an ex, you’re going to feel insecure. And if you feel insecure, you’re not going to feel safe going into deeper levels of involvement, intimacy, and commitment with them.
And if you don’t feel safe going into deeper levels of involvement, intimacy, and commitment with them, then you’re not going to be able to have a fulfilling long-term relationship.
Should You Wait?
Here’s my honest opinion — I don’t believe in waiting.
Your time is way too valuable. Your life and dreams are too valuable to wait for anybody unless they are moving heaven and Earth to be with you and to make the changes necessary to meet your needs.
But even then, they would have to be pretty close to resolving any issues.
But if they are being passive about it (waiting for someone else to do something instead of taking being proactive), dragging their feet or making excuses, there’s no way you should wait.
You have a dream inside of you for the kind of life and relationship that you really want. And the longer you wait, the longer you delay that dream. If someone really cares about co-creating that dream with you, they will do what’s necessary to make it happen. They will take conscious, meaningful action to make it happen, and not just talk about it. And if they really care about moving on with their life and moving on from their previous relationship, they will do what’s necessary to move on. They’ll tie up loose ends and create appropriate boundaries, regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or not.
And if they don’t, then that’s a good sign that they weren’t committed to moving on in the first place.
But it all comes down to you and what you value. We are always empowered with choice. But that power comes with responsibility – and it’s not always comfortable. Having the deeply fulfilling, long-term committed relationship that you want is worth the short-term discomfort of saying no to waiting.