There’s no point entering into a relationship unless you’re prepared to treat it as a real commitment. Otherwise, you may as well not bother making the effort to distinguish it from any other connection you have with friends and acquaintances.
The whole point in choosing a relationship to be more special to you than others is based on your own personal choice to commit to a particular person above anyone else.
But it’s important to remember that everything about the commitment you make – down to the tiniest detail about what is and isn’t okay on every side of the relationship – is entirely your choice.
There are societal norms that – generally – dictate what a ‘relationship’ is supposed to be.
Generally, by committing to a relationship with someone, there is an implication that any family you choose to have in the future will include them and they will be your partner in your decision to raise children, when and if you make that choice. This could mean one day committing to financial responsibilities, including getting a joint bank account, car and even a home. It is also implied – and often taken extremely seriously – that you will be sexually and romantically exclusive to them.
But as society progresses, those boundaries have changed.
More and more couples are choosing not to have children, or to adopt children instead of having their own, meaning that the choice of person to spend your life with has less and less to do with how well they’ll fare as a parent or what genes they might pass onto future offspring.
Openness and other forms of alternative relationship models are getting increasingly popular and have a lot less stigma surrounding them as time goes on. It’s becoming more and more common for people to decide for themselves what ‘fidelity’ means to them.
At the basis of every relationship is a solid foundation of honesty and trust. There never has been and likely never will be a successful relationship that doesn’t have – at least – those two things at its core.
But everything else, really, is up to you to decide.
That doesn’t mean that you should immediately reconsider monogamy as a whole.
But it does mean thinking about – even if you can’t really know for sure – what you’re comfortable with in a relationship before committing to one.
Everyone’s limits are going to be different.
Some people feel like, in the early days of a relationship, it is acceptable to continue dating other people or to keep their Tindr account active, at least for a little bit longer, until they’re sure this is the person for them. Others don’t.
Some people don’t mind what their partner does, as long as they’re healthy and happy and honest. Others don’t.
Some people don’t think it’s acceptable for their partners to continue speaking to an ex. Some people would go so far as to prevent their partner from speaking to anyone of the opposite gender, just to be secure in their paranoid minds that their relationship is safe. Some – in fact, the vast majority – would disagree with that kind of controlling thinking. But it is perversely common.
And a lot of people end up trapped in domineering relationships because they haven’t decided what their boundaries are beforehand and made them clear from the start.
Choosing for yourself, before you allow another person a say in the matter, where to draw your own lines will mean that you will enjoy your relationship a whole lot more. That doesn’t mean you can’t compromise if your lines are slightly different to those of someone you’re interested in.
But it means knowing where your hard limits are and not compromising what you’re comfortable with for someone who doesn’t respect them.
Relationships are no longer defined by strict laws or moral codes. They are now entirely in the domain of those who choose to be in them. No one else gets a say. Now, it’s entirely your choice. No one gets to tell you what to do or what to be comfortable with.
It is solely your responsibility to decide what you are prepared to commit to. The only other people who need to accept it are those you allow into your relationship.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.