I just know my boyfriend is going to read this and say, “I didn’t know you felt pressured! You should have told me!”
The truth is, at one time, I did feel a little bit pressured in our relationship, but I also didn’t — a phrase that makes no sense at all, but if you’re going through it right now, you might have a sense of what I’m talking about.
Feeling relationship pressure can come in many forms. As teenagers, we’re warned about feeling pressured to have sex before we’re ready. As adults, this list of pressures only gets longer: the pressure to get married, to have kids or even to move in together. I could go on, but I’m going to spare you the anxiety.
I first got the “If/when we move-in together” talk about two years into my current relationship. And, while we are happily co-habitating now, at the time, it really freaked me out to think about living with a boyfriend. This wasn’t because I didn’t see a future with him, but rather, because I did see a future with him, and that was kind of terrifying. You don’t expect to meet “the one” when you’re 22, and you certainly can’t know for sure that “the one” is actually “the one.” That’s why the idea of moving in freaked me out. For one, there’s a permanence in agreeing to live with someone you’re dating — if you move in with them and realize sharing the same space doesn’t work for you, it’s not like you can just move out and continue dating from your respective homes, right? Also, if you move in with someone, what’s the next logical step after that? Unless of course you’re not the marrying kind.
The key to any relationship is honesty and communication, because unless you or your parter is psychic, you probably can’t read each other’s minds. Let’s assume, for example, that your s.o. is not-so-subtly hinting that you two should move in together. If you’re not ready yet, let them know! And while you’re at it, perhaps asses why you don’t think you’re ready yet. I already laid out why I wasn’t ready when my boyfriend first brought up the subject, but your reasons could be completely different from mine. What if you don’t want to move in because you don’t see a future with this person? Being honest to your partner (and yourself) could spare both of you a lot of potential heartache and wasted time. In my case, the pressure I thought I felt was coming from my boyfriend was actually coming from me, and whatever insecurities were tied up in that, I definitely had to address it before moving forward in my relationship.
Another reason you need to be open and honest, is that you may actually find some clarification. Again, using my experience as an example here, when my boyfriend dropped hints about us living together, he was pretty subtle about it. We’d be at IKEA, looking at bed sheets (for him), and he’d ask me what I thought of certain patterns or colours, “because you should like them too, if we’re going to be sharing them one day.” Hearing this stopped me in my tracks, and frankly, I could have died right there from the fear, but much later on, after discussing where our relationship was going, I discovered that he merely said those things because we’re a couple of broke 20-somethings and it would suck to have to buy all-new everything if we couldn’t agree on an interior design style. My over-reacting brain had me thinking he was moments away from a marriage proposal when he was actually just being practical, which was quite a relief, I might add.
I can’t say this enough, but communicating is key here, people. Where as you may be feeling like your partner is pressuring you, they may actually just be laying out their feelings about the trajectory of your relationship. However, there’s no way to know that if you never discuss it. It may also seem daunting to have all these discussions with your partner, but instead of focusing on the seriousness of it all, think of the catharsis. Clearing the air and knowing exactly what page you’re both on can be a relief, and not having any unanswered questions between the two of you can definitely bring you closer together.