When you want more than a casual relationship

Casual to committed in 7 steps

  • Understand relationship timelines

  • Get to know your own attachment style

  • Understand what you need to feel fulfilled

  • Date from love, not fear

  • Get to know his attachment style

  • Understand what his relationship needs are

  • Learn to communicate what you need

Aside from meeting eligible single men, the trickiest bit about dating is getting past the next stage in a relationship. You can typically tell whether a relationship has longevity within the first 3 months. At the 3 month mark, both parties usually evaluate whether what they have is casual dating or something more.

Stages of a relationship and the frequency of dating to go from casual to committed relationship: 

What goes on inside the male brain in months 1-3 in a relationship:

  • Do we have fun?
  • Do I like myself when I’m around her?
  • How do I feel when we’re together?
  • I want to get to know her more

What goes on inside the female brain in months 1-3 in a relationship

  • This could be the real deal. Wow.
  • Will he make a good husband/father?
  • What are we? Where is this relationship going?
  • I wonder if he’ll get along with my friends and family.

What goes through a guy’s mind in the early stages of a relationship are very different from a woman’s. Men date in the present. Women tend to see the potential beyond month one.

Both parties are at the beginning of a relationship but notice how a man is very present at months 1-3. All he’s occupied with is the present. Whereas, the woman in the example is already 6 months ahead. Some men and women move faster than others in a relationship, which is why you should understand both yours and your date’s relationship timeline. If you find they are highly incompatible, it may be time to move on.

Get to know your own attachment style

As I’ve written before, it’s OKAY to be needy in a relationship as long as you can understand where it comes from. When I work with clients who are over casual dating, we often start with attachment styles. We all have different ways of relating to our partners – some are avoidant, others are anxious while most are secure. If you have an anxious attachment style while your partner is avoidant, it could explain why you’re always feeling anxious when he opts to spend a weekend with his friends over a weekend away with you. This is such an important step in understanding exactly what makes a guy want to commit. I have a whole module dedicated to it in Goodbye Casual Dating.

Understand what you need to feel fulfilled

Sometimes we’re so focused on the end goal that we will do whatever it takes to get there. In relationships, this could mean sacrificing the things we need in a relationship, just to find someone to marry and have babies with. People in happy relationships are the ones who have their needs fulfilled. Yet, so many people neglect to discover what it is that makes them happy. We all have a friend who dates a certain type. But have you ever had a friend go way off track and marry someone totally different? And they’re happier than ever? It’s because they found a man who could fulfil her emotional needs, not just checkboxes on a superficial wish list.

Date from love, not fear

The two things that drive what we do are love and fear. In dating, fear makes us do some crazy things i.e. date the wrong people because we’re scared to be alone, sabotage our relationships because we think that they’ll eventually hurt us, retreat from dating altogether in fear of rejection. But when we date from a place of love for ourselves and others, dating is easier. Dating from love is being brave enough to be vulnerable, to love openly knowing that it might not work out – and knowing that it’s ok.

Get to know his attachment style

At about month 5-6 in a relationship, some men wig out. It could be due to various reasons: they haven’t been in a relationship that lasted more than 6 months so it’s unfamiliar territory for them, they are afraid to lose his freedom, they don’t know how a relationship will change his lifestyle. There are SO many unknowns. But if you can understand his attachment style, it’ll help you understand his behavior i.e. when he freaks out because you want to leave your toothbrush at his place, it’s not you. It’s likely that he has an avoidant relationship style and feels you’re getting a little too close. Knowing his attachment style, you can arm yourself with a few strategies to find a compromise so both people feel secure in a relationship.

Understand what his relationship needs are

This one is straightforward. Everyone has different needs in a relationship. Some people crave independence while others crave closeness. I have a client who prefers to be connected to her partner several times a day. Whether it’s through text, phone or email, she just wants to hear from them. And that’s totally fine. There are people who are comfortable with that level of contact. Your partner may not want the same so it’s best to check. What does he need to feel fulfilled and content in a relationship? Is it affection? Words of affirmation?

Learn to communicate what you need

Once you understand your own needs, the hardest part comes in – communicating them. Many women I speak to are afraid that if they tell a guy what they really need in a relationship, they’ll run. But that’s a false perceived reality. If a guy likes you, he’ll do what it takes to make you happy. You need to communicate what you need in a relationship, otherwise, your man can’t give you what you need. These conversations don’t need to be serious. When approached in a light and playful way, your relationship can actually grow stronger.

Going from casual to a committed relationship isn’t always easy but if it’s still strong and steady after the 6-month mark, it has a great chance! This is a distilled version of what we cover in Goodbye Casual Dating. If you want to understand how men think and the exact things that take a casual relationship to a committed one, enroll.

Iona

Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.

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