Taking Steps Wisely
Why is it some people get swept up and involved in poor relationships, even ones they come to regret? Most likely it is because they slide into romantic or sexual involvement. They slide instead of making clear decisions based on knowledge of the other person and a clear sense of their own values and goals in life.
Sliding is risky and can lead to some high-cost consequences. It is important to remember that there is a heavy dose of “love chemicals” at the start of romance that can cloud one’s vision and make it easy to slide.
Females in particular need to be careful. Females can become emotionally involved awfully fast when they like someone. There can be some very high costs for females from when they slide into relationships rather than deciding.
Reduce your chances of making a poor relationship choice by following the low-risk deciding approach. This strategy amounts to a go-slow, go smart approach:
STEP ONE: ATTRACTION
Enjoy your time with the person of interest. Have fun. Be yourself. If you can’t have fun or find it hard to just be yourself—then this is the perfect time to make the decision to not go any further. More than likely pursuing a relationship would be challenging from the start. If you enjoy the person’s company and find yourself not feeling like you can’t be yourself, go to step two.
STEP TWO: LEARN ABOUT EACH OTHER
Take as long as you feel to learn as much as you can about the other person. This doesn’t mean doing full and complete background checks, and credit checks on a person, but it does mean engage with the person in different situations. For example, volunteer together, have a nice dinner, ask to visit them as they engage in extra-curricular activities or hobbies. The biggest idea here is to talk. Be sure that you ask questions no matter how silly you or the other person may think they are. Have substance filled conversations. Go to step three.
STEP THREE: DECIDE (Safe Exit Stage)
This is the time to decide if you really want a romantic relationship. It is vital that this is communicated. At this point you have no real committment or real ties together. If you don’t want a romantic relationship then be sure to make this very clear and obvious. If you think you are ready for the big step of starting a romantic relationship, begin to think of your boundaries. What will you both allow or not allow in your relationship? Consider your values and goals in life. Be ready to discuss them with the person. Go to step four.
STEP FOUR: DISCUSS (Safe Exit Stage)
Now that you’ve decided you want to pursue a romantic relationship, communicate this idea effectively with the person of interest. See if the person is ready for a relationship as well and can respect and honor your values and goals. Listen to the other person, ask questions, and ask yourself can you respect and honor their values and goals. Collectively come up with boundaries for your relationship and think of ways to overcome disagreements or to even build on the romance of your relationship. Seriously communicate about the neccessity of a deeper committment and future plans. If this is not something that you both can do cohesively, then this would be the perfect time to pull a safe exit and not pursue a romantic relationship.
One of the benefits of consiously making decisions and this step by step approach, is the peace of mind of safe exits from a potentially harmful or poor relationship.
Adapted from Within My Reach. Copyright PREP for Individuals, Inc.