Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing A Relationship's Ground Rules

Question: I have been seeing an entertainer almost 3 years now. The first year was really rocky - full of attraction and the chase (by him) but I had just gotten out of a 6 year relationship and it was merely 3 years after the death of my father and I wasn't trying to jump right back into another relationship or emotional commitment. He too, was apparently getting out of something which I found out about because a woman called me 'protecting her territory'. I confronted him about the call and the caller and he was honest. It only happened once and never since.

The second year, we started getting closer. He started trusting me with very personal things (although he lied about his age) and I felt like we were going along a road that could lead to a sensible relationship. We haven't spent any holidays together - sometimes he is touring and since he has kids, sometimes he is with his family. My friends think I am crazy that after 3 years we should be more of a 'couple' and spend holidays together but at first, I really didn't want that. He travels a lot which strangely I have gotten used to (and his ex cheated on him for that reason so he has trust issues there); at first I complained that he was not very communicative when he left - and now he will call every single time he is leaving and email/text/call when he is gone. Anytime I express displeasure at something - he does make an effort to rectify. I did ask for an HIV & STD test - which he willingly did and supplied the results. Now, I have never been to his house. I have never met his family - although we have spoken about them (and he has met my brother). We have similar friends but because of who he is and the industry, we keep our relationship on the low to protect our privacy - for as long as we can.

Year three - here we still are together. I know now definitely that I love him and I genuinely care for him. I wanted to be sure that past emotional baggage was out of the way first. We enjoy our time together but it’s so random and short; I want more and I feel like he can give more - but I don't know how much. I suppose, we would have to go more public with our relationship if I wanted to spend more time with him that is not quite so private; I know he depends on coming home to me but there is a part of me that wonders why he hasn't taken me to his home? I haven't insisted since I think it’s inappropriate, and I know his kids do not live with him; How do I tell him that I am ready for more and need more from him without demanding it although. I don't want some patterned relationship of him coming to my apartment and making love, him leaving at 4am and then we speak on the phone the rest of the time. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern I started because I didn't want the closeness and now I want it, I am not sure how to get it. Help. ...Ms. Dating the Entertainer

Answer: Yours is a very interesting letter. Basically, what you're asking is: How do you change the ground rules of a relationship without seeming demanding? That's a very good question.
Here are a few issues that I think you should consider:

1) Men are generally comfortable with the status quo and will usually take little initiative to change it. Conversely, women generally like to set up guidelines and alter them to accommodate the complex and changing nature of relationships. You and he once had similar needs and desires and your "ground rules" reflected this. Now, your love has grown, so your desires have changed and you want to re-visit the parameters of your relationship. The question is: Has his love grown, too? And if so, are the changes you want, things that he might be amenable to?

2) By your vagueness in describing him as "an entertainer," I will assume that he has a certain amount of celebrity status and would like to keep his liaison with you out of the headlines. Is there any other reason that he might want to keep your relationship a secret?

3) Be careful not to let your friends define how your relationship "should" be. Friends mean well, but generally their advice is biased toward you and not particularly objective. What is acceptable behavior in your relationship can only be defined by you and your man. Don't let your friends' issues be your own.

4) What specifically are you looking for? You say you want "closeness," but I'm not sure what that means. Are you looking for a traditional relationship, where you spend time with each other's friends and families periodically, go out to public places, and generally do the whole "boyfriend-girlfriend" thing? Are you desiring some sort of public acknowledgement of your importance in his life? Are you hoping to make the relationship more permanent - get engaged, move in together, get married? First and foremost, in order to get what you want, you have to clearly know what that is and be able to ask for it - regardless of the consequences. Yes, there's always the possibility he doesn't want what you now want, and you will scare him off/push him away. But if you don't let your desires be known, in time, you will likely grow resentful of him, and that will not bode well for the long term success of your relationship.

The bottom line is this: You need to summon up your courage and clear the air. Talk to him. Tell him how you're feeling. Tell him you're not trying to pressure him, just "taking his temperature." Then together you can decide just where you are BOTH comfortable in taking this relationship. I wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out the way you want.

© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.


pheromone cologne said...

I also believe that relationship addiction is a huge problem in our society because it is widespread and because very few people acknowledge it.


Samuel Christian said...

What an interesting post to read, thanks for bringing it up.

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