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            How to Take Your Relationship to the Next Level

Even though it’s often an exciting time when you first get into a relationship, we all know how they can also get very difficult and frustrating at times. There are so many emotions involved indating and it can often seem like a whirlwind as you navigate how you feel, how your potential partner feels, what you have in common, where you are different, and what all of that means for the future of the relationship. We’ve seen it many times over the last decade as we have created products and content that highlights thehuman experience and human connection. Read on to get our tips on moving things to the next level when you think both parties might be ready for a new chapter. Hopefully, this will help you take things from “it’s complicated” or “just dating” to “they’re my ride or die.”

 

First Ensure You Are Ready to Give More Commitment

Ask yourself if you are ready to give more commitment to this potential long-term partner by going through the followingquestions:

  1. What are you prepared to bring to this relationship that you haven’t in the past?

  2. In what way will the risk of commitment offer you the opportunity to grow?
  3. What are the lessons you are ready to have as a partner in this relationship? 
  4. How does the other person make you feel? How honest and courageous can you be with them? 
  5. What relationship (be as detailed as possible) are you inspired to build with this other person and will you be able to face the conflict in the building of it?

If you’re not sure about the answers to any of these questions, it’s a good idea to take a pause and get to knowyourself or the other person better before moving forward pursuing a deeper relationship. Use the cards in ourDating deck to open up discussions in a safe, non-confrontational way and see if this person is the right partner for you long-term or not.

 

Ask Your Partner What They Feel and Open Up

All deeply-rooted damage from your past will show up in your relationships with others, even if you know them well. This can be scary for both parties involved, as neither of you may know the full effects of the damage that has taken place before or what ways either party may inadvertently avoid true intimacy as a result of that prior damage.

When broaching the topic of morecommitment in a relationship or deeper intimacy, be open-minded to any response you may get. If they seem on the same page and ready to take the dive with you…great! You can face the unknown together.

And if you’re met with hesitation or resistance, don’tpanic. Try to use all the resources, patience, and timeouts you have at your disposal in this step. There might be reasons they want to slow things down that make sense; perhaps they need more time to work through personal logistics, goals, or even daemons. Rather than seeing the rejection as final, always try to listen thoughtfully to what they have to say.

Try to be as objective as possible when you pose questions about deeper connection as it will offer both you and them the opportunity to be trulyhonest, which is always a good thing regardless of the outcome. The risk has a potentially great reward as you will either receive the response you hoped for as soon as possible, or the momentum will push things forward to help you move on to better potential partners if it wasn’t the right fit.

 

Give the Relationship Opportunity to Grow or Continue to Explore Other Options

By this point, your partner may have told you why they are hesitant about movingforward, but that hasn't changed what you need to do. If they are struggling to commit, you should tell them that you are also dating other people. There are plenty of ways to keep the communication respectful and loving at this stage while also creating clear boundaries to protect yourself. If this is something that they want to continue, then the two of you need to meet up more often so that they can decide one way or the other what they want from this relationship. If they need more time to commit, then it’s completely appropriate for you to continue exploring other opportunities for more serious devotion. 

Take some of the power back in the situation by making it clear in your actions that you will receive the kind of commitment you seek…whether that be with them or someone else. This is typically a fairly effective means of getting your partner to comprehend that this choice is not simply about them but also includes you and what yourequire. Ideally, this step will help you find a sustainable compromise. The one caveat we’d give here is that if your partner is willing to work on the relationship, use a soft approach and be kind. When communication from both sides is open and honest, they deserve the chance to work through their hesitations even if it’s slower than you’d like. Equivalently, you deserve love and cannot be expected to wait around forever–so work together to find some milestones or possible timelines that are fair for both of you. When approached correctly, this should not at all feel like an ultimatum but instead a collaboration.

 

Learn From the Last Experience–Good or Bad–and Use it to be More Successful Next Time

By now the relationship is most likely going one of two ways…you’re headed toward a committed, long-term love and whatever that may mean for you. (Marriage, children, moving in together, etc.) or the relationship is coming to an inevitable end. 

If it’s the latter, and you're now looking for your next relationship--we recommend making your goals known early on as you date new people so they can be noticed by potential prospects. You’ll weed out many individuals that do not share your same objectives by being a bitforthcoming. Anyone who would be scared away by you telling them that you're looking to settle down and start a family in the next 5 years (or whatever your goal may be—insert here) is someone who you should possibly not invest time or energy into. Your goals not being in alignment with someone else does not make either of you wrong, it simply means you are not the right fit for each other in an extended or lifelong partnership. 

Take the most recent failed relationship as a learning opportunity to make sure you don't end up in the same place again - trying to persuade somebody to want the same things you do. Remember that we can’t make another person do anything; we can onlyinvite them to join us if they would like to. The right person who wants what you want is out there; being honest and upfront as much as you comfortably can help you find them sooner.

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{The And} Card Games by the Skin Deep offer countless opportunities to get to know yourself and your partner better. Check out ourDating deck,Couples,Healing, orSelf to double down on your understanding of self and love.