We’ve all been there. You’re in a great relationship, but you just can’t get your man to take the next step towards commitment. What’s a girl to do? We asked Matthew Hussey what he thought. Matthew is a British motivational speaker, New York Times bestselling author, life coach, and star of NBC’s primetime series, Ready for Love. We figured if anyone would know, it would be him.
FR: HOW CAN WOMEN MOVE A RELATIONSHIP FORWARD WITHOUT ISSUING AN ULTIMATUM?
MH: The ultimatum can create this panic in a guy. And if he leaves, he leaves because he is panicked and because he doesn’t have the answer right there. Or he stays and he feels this ticking time bomb effect. You never want to force a guy to make a decision or to make it for him.
That being said, sometimes you need a certain pressure, a pressure in the right way. Two great friends of mine who are now married with children had this experience: she said to him, six months into relationship, “What are we?” He answered, “I don’t think it’s fair for you to be asking me that question,” which is a very interesting response. She said, “Well, the reason I need to know is that I have guys asking me out, and I don’t know what to tell them; I need to know what to tell them.” Fantastic response! He said he did not want “to be pressured or make a decision based on the fact that other guys are asking you out – you need to do whatever you want, and whatever is going to get you what you want.” So she responded, “Ok fine, but look: if we don’t know what this is by new year’s, then let’s just decide to leave it there.” She didn’t say “Ok, then I’m leaving,” but instead said, “I’m not about to pressure you or make you do something. But if we don’t know by that time, clearly if we don’t know by then, then something isn’t right.”
I asked him when he knew, and he said, “Truthfully, I knew that same week, but I did not want to be forced. I wanted to be ready myself and say it, instead of being forced.” It doesn’t always work out that way, but if you give him space to think, in that type of conversation you’re also giving yourself the respect, “I’m not going to wait around, but I am going to set a timeframe that is reasonable and acceptable without any threats of ending it, etc.” He wants to feel like he is leading you through the stages of dating, not that he is being forced to move the relationship by the woman and only on her timeline.
That doesn’t mean as a woman you have to just sit around and do nothing, but the other extreme is no better. Some women are a year or two years in and are wondering, “What is happening between us? You have never committed to me. We have such a great time together, but I just don’t know where this is going.” This is because you have never put any real pressure on him or any real stakes.
FR: SO THERE IS SUCH A THING AS HEALTHY PRESSURE, NOT AN ULTIMATUM NECESSARILY?
MH: It can be done in a compassionate way, with no anger. A conversation may begin something like, “You know you have to do what is right for you. If this isn’t going anywhere, and if by X time we don’t know what we are, let’s agree to go our own ways, because I am interested in something more than just a casual fling.”
FR: DOES TONE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH BRINGING HEALTHY PRESSURE?
MH: Absolutely, everything you do has to be communicated with compassion, with kindness, with a sense of giving value – from a place of real self-respect. Let them know you like them, but be honest with yourself, and be ready to walk away when your time frame is up – at the same time wanting the best for him, but also not compromising on what is best for yourself.
Want more? We’ve got more of Matthew here.