Seeking Clarity in “What are we?”
Over the past two years, with increasing uncertainty looming over the world, there seems to be a parallel uncertainty within relationships. Therefore, bringing a rise in the term “situationships.” Esther Perel could not have been more accurate when stating that “situationships are difficult to define and even harder to mourn.” It is true that an unclear relationship will lead to a muddy path, leaving it ever so difficult to navigate. As modern love comes in many forms, it is almost essential to talk about which form we want, otherwise we’re left assuming we want the same things. Which more often than not, can lead to misunderstandings and disappointment.
We all crave the right amount of freedom and the right amount of security within our relationships. However the desire for either is not always equal. A person who needs more freedom may find labels too restricting, “while a person who needs more security may feel as if continuing without a label infringes on their self-esteem and self-respect” (Perel and Miller). While labels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, they do help to lead to a discussion of healthy boundaries, needs, and expectations. Labeling can help us begin to clarify and negotiate the terms of the relationship. Practicing open communication and being attuned to how each other feels throughout the relationship is key to keeping it healthy and nourishing for both parties.
Aside from simply checking in, if we’d like to turn a situationship into an actual relationship, especially if we know we may be considering a more long-term partnership in the future, asking “what are we?” is almost essential in setting intentions and getting clear on where the relationship may be heading. However, initiating the conversation isn’t always easy and therefore “mentally preparing yourself for not liking how the conversation ends” is also a helpful part of the process. Regardless, having the conversation provides a sense of clarity that can be necessary for a relationship to continue” (Pollard, MBG). We can’t let one person’s ambivalence, reluctance, or fears dictate how we choose to show up in a relationship. Similarly, we can’t let our desires and needs dictate their willingness to step forward. Talk it out. If our own needs are not being met and a compromise is not achievable, then you may need to re-evaluate the relationship. But if the answer to “what are we” is mutually satisfying, initiating the conversation will feel like a relief and may even leave you feeling closer to your partner. The initial trail may feel muddy and difficult to walk through but once you pass all the fog you’re left with the reward of mutual respect and understanding.
Seeking clarity in “what are we” is a great exercise to periodically return to as a way of reviewing commitments, expectations, visions, dreams, and boundaries. Relationships are meant to change and grow and having a conversation to help clear confusion benefits everyone.
Blog post written by Yasmine Ross, Certified Relationship Coach and Content Writer at An Elegant Mind Counselling in Vancouver