Somewhere in that uncomfortable space between dating and relationships is a black hole of confusion, anxiety and uncertainty. This is the limbo where potential relationships tend to either implode or move forward. I call this the uncertain phase. I’m sure you can relate; it usually happens after a few dates with someone when mutual attraction and interest has been established, but neither party is showing active signs of moving the budding relationship toward exclusivity. Or one is and one isn’t. Sometimes, one person is anxious to nudge things in that direction while the other is enjoying the present arrangement. This phase is generally uncomfortable for people like me who don’t deal well with uncertainty. So if you find yourself in this position, how do you deal with it?
First, What NOT To Do:
- Don’t overthink it. I once read a study that showed how uncertainty can actually create a strong attraction; it’s that natural desire to want to “conquer” and win someone over, better known as ‘the chase.” So if you really like someone and you don’t know how they feel about you, it’s so easy to start thinking about them 24/7. This is obviously easier said than done, but try not to. Put away your phone, forget about social media, don’t stalk them and keep your mind occupied.
- Don’t log online just to see if your person has logged in to JDate lately. This will drive you crazy! Besides, if you see that he was online yesterday, maybe he was just checking to see how recently YOU were online! Hmm, I wonder how many budding relationships were ruined by accusations of logging on to the site for this reason.
- Don’t nag or pressure. This is a turn-off for just about everyone.
Ideas On How To Handle Uncertainty:
- Keep in mind that not everything is black or white. Just because someone isn’t immediately committing to you doesn’t mean he or she isn’t interested. People process their thoughts at different speeds.
- Enjoy the support of family and friends. Or a pet. Or a TV. Whatever.
- I know I hate reading this because it’s overused and kind of cliché, but stay busy. An active mind doesn’t have as much time to obsess over relationships.
- If you feel like you can’t handle the uncertainty or it’s eating you alive, communicate. There is nothing wrong with expressing yourself, in a positive and light way, in the beginning of a relationship. Of course, once in a more established relationship, communication is much more important. But at this in-between stage, it’s important to state your needs in a very positive and friendly way.
And if things don’t turn out the way you hoped, it’s NOT the end of the world, even if it feels like it at the time. Finding outlets for your anxiety about dating helps you focus on your own happiness rather than waiting on someone else to make you happy. Then when the right person comes along, you’ll be better prepared to click with someone who’s ready to move forward with you.