You've been dating a guy for a while and the relationship appears to be progressing emotionally, but he hasn't mentioned moving forward together. At this point, although it can be intimidating and downright terrifying to bring up the topic, it's important to ask your boyfriend if he's ready for the next step. Without asking, you and your boyfriend will likely continue on a stagnated path that is more circular than linear. He too may be wondering whether it's time to move forward, but someone needs to take the initiative to take things to the next level.
Inquire into his dreams. If you are considering a future together, it's important that he too sees a future that includes you. Ask him questions such as "If you didn't have to work today, what would you be doing?" These types of questions, explains California-based clinical psychologist Randi Gunther, create an environment in which you can visualize what he thinks about your relationship. Avoid expecting every dream to be optimistic, but be sure he includes you in some way as a part of that dream. This indicates that he is considering the logical next step in your relationship.
Casually broach the topic of moving to the next step. Monitor his nonverbal cues, which can give you an indication of how your question is received. Examples of positive, affirmative nonverbal cues include smiling, nodding, open posture and leaning slightly towards you. These cues, explains a 2003 research study published in "Evolutionary Psychology," suggest commitment and altruism. These traits are an important part of taking the next step in a relationship and imply that your boyfriend shares your interest.
Express your feelings about wanting to move to the next step in the relationship. Expressing your feelings isn't simply putting them on a table and waiting for someone to pick them up, it's a process that includes accepting how you feel. Choose a private location to express yourself and explain not only how you feel but also what about your relationship has led you to consider a future. Avoid getting overwhelmed by your feelings and going off on tangents. Pace yourself, speaking honestly and slowly, smiling and gently touching his hand or arm.
Ask your boyfriend if he's ready for the next step in your relationship. Explain that you think the time you've spent together, your mutual interests and your attraction to him indicate it's time for the logical next step. Give your boyfriend time to respond and be willing to accept his answer as a reflection of where he is emotionally. If you are different pages at this point, don't presume that there is no chance for a future. Instead, consider that people progress at individual paces.
- Psychology Today: 7 Keys To Long-Term Relationship Success
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Experiencing and Expressing Emotions
- Psychology Today: Is Your Relationship Thriving or Just Surviving?
- Evolutionary Psychology: Are There Nonverbal Cues To Commitment? An Exploratory Study Using The Zero-Acquaintance Video Presentation Paradigm
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
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