The relationship graveyard is filled with headstones revealing the reasons behind dead relationships. Ironically, one reason you might see is:
They shared their feelings.
One person puts it out on the table. Usually it's that first "emotional" conversation. If it's timed correctly, and the other person is "ready," usually things go off without a hitch.
But some people don't want something serious, fear commitment, are overwhelmed by another person's emotion, etc. And these people take flight when the person they are dating gets too into it, as I wrote in my last post.
How strange it is that saying, "I like you," "I'd like things to be serious," "I want to commit" can kill the relationship. It turns out that there is a wrong way to tell someone you have deep feelings and want to commit.
While it's great to "go with your instinct" (as long as your instinct is not like my instinct), you should consider a few things beforehand:
Know Thy Audience
Why do so many people shy away from commitment? Aren't people looking to fall in love? On the other hand, as I wrote in my previous post, younger people may not want to commit. There are other factors (for example, it's tough to commit in NYC). If you choose to date someone who is not serious, for whatever reason, you're bound to be burned if you try to up the ante.
Did you just get out of a relationship? Have you been single forever? Before sharing feelings, you might want to sleep on it. You may be at a place in your life where you're predisposed to giving in to emotion too early, or pushing the relationship too fast...or building it all up in your mind (segue)...
Beware of the Buildup in Your Mind
Isn't it sad that I'm advising you not to have hope when getting into a relationship? Actually, it's okay to have hope — just temper it. Manage your expectations. The natural habits of the human mind — hope and imagination — lead to buildup. Then you're off in the clouds in relationship bliss while the other person is looking at the relationship in a practical light (a.k.a. "We're just hanging out").
Let Them Do It First
Also known as: the 8th-grade dance move I'm so famous for. If you bite your tongue, continue to be fun, and treat the other person well, perhaps they will step up and profess their feelings first. Of course, like the 8th-grade dance, if you both stand silent on opposite sides of the gym, nothing happens.
Don't Make It Too Big a Deal
The words "I have feelings for you," or "I want commitment" are heavy. In my previous post, the women freaked out, in part, because of the physical things the guys did: clasping her hands, pulling her face close to him.
Maybe switch it up and make it a cute, casual "I like you" at an impromptu moment. Heavy words don't always need a heavy moment, and you don't always have to use heavy words. No reason for an apocalypse.
If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
Most relationships were moving along just fine before one person decided to share their feelings. The tough thing is, when things are good, it's natural to want to move it to another level. But just ask yourself: Do I really want to rock the boat? You might spoil a good thing, trying to make it better.
(Don't Always) Listen to Your Heart
This is where The Supremes ("think it over") trump Roxette ("listen to your heart"). Actually, the Supremes always trump Roxette. I wish it was safe to listen to your heart. Sometimes it's impossible to hold it in, and it feels "right," but it's best to think hard (at least a little) before you speak.
Many people struggle with when to reveal feelings. Do you tell your friend you like them as more than a friend or let it sit? Do you tell the person you're dating you have deep feelings for them, or let it simmer? One philosophy is: Just tell them how you feel, and if it doesn't work out, it's for the best. Won't you go crazy holding it in anyway?
In a perfect world, we'd balance the heart and mind, tempering things at the right time, and freeing boundless emotion when it's right. But who knows how to do that?
Is it best to let your feelings be known right away, or take a measured approach? Do you agree with my list above, or am I being too analytical? Should you take the risk and see what happens, risking that you might drive them away if it's done too early?
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richravens