Like I said in one of my recent articles on The Importance Of Setting Goals In Your Relationships, setting goals help keep you focused and alert, and also gives you something to work towards, which would prevent the relationship from getting stale and boring, and keep it fresh, challenging and exciting.
In addition, when you set goals in your relationships helps you quickly weed men who are frauds, timewasters or simply using you.
When a child is born, the child needs to be meeting growth markers, especially in its early months and years, as an indication that the child is healthy and thriving well.
So too, a functional relationship needs to have certain growth markers at certain intervals.
There is nothing more soul-crushing than hanging on to a relationship that is long dead, but you are unaware of it until it is too late
A relationship that is growing is a relationship that is progressing, so ignore whatever sweet talk or promises of the future that he might be feeding, and focus on the goals and growth markers of the relationship.
On average, it takes about 2-3 years from the first date for a couple to get married and this is why I always tell you to never stay in long-term relationships that go on for years.
Most relationships of this sort die at the 3-year mark, but the guy strings the woman along for an additional 2 more years before he discards her or she finds out that he is cheating on her.
You can see examples of this in my article HERE.
Now, I don’t need some of y’all coming at me, whining and telling me that you or some other person dated for longer than 3 or 5 years and are now married, and everything is hunky dory.
Cases like this are the exception and not the rule, so sit down! K?
Just kidding, guys.
In all honesty though, yes there are some people who date forever and then get married, but like I said, those are the exception and not the rule. Plus, you have no idea on what is going on within those marriages.
They could be miserable as sin and it could be a case of him settle for her, while multiple women on the side, but you won’t know this.
It is kinda like smoking and cancer. Not everyone who smokes would develop cancer. Some people smoke all their lives and never get cancer, but once again, they are the exception and not the rule, so why take that risk?
Same thing with relationships. You get no do-over in this life.
Wasted time and years on a relationship is time that you will NEVER get back, so it is best to try and get it right the first time.
And now, on to the goals.
Remember, if your relationship is not hitting these growth markers at the necessary intervals, then you might need to call time on the relationship. The longer you hang on to the dead relationship, the longer you prevent yourself from meeting the right person for you.
Oh, and ps, do not tell the guy who is dating you that you are checking off these growth markers on the relationship.
As a man, he should be in his masculine energy by driving the relationship and as a woman, you should be in your feminine energy by responding to him.
A feminine and traditional woman does not pursue a guy and does not lead in a relationship.
However, you are not to be entirely passive in the relationship. You respond to his direction by following him where he is taking the relationship, unless he is taking it to Nowhere Land.
Just stay quiet. Never ask him “What are we? Where is this leading?” and so on.
Simply remain sweet and feminine, while quietly checking off any growth markers in the relationship.
It might be helpful for you to write this down in a journal that he has no access to.
Writing things down can help you accurately assess and remember what events actually happened and when, as we all have a tendency to forget or gloss over significant red flags from the past, if the person we care about is now sweet-talking us.
ESSENTIAL GOALS AND GROWTH MARKERS A RELATIONSHIP SHOULD HAVE
Exclusivity should occur within the first 2-3 months from the first date and until he has asked you to be exclusive, you should maintain some distance from him, keep things fairly casual, no labels (don’t call him your boyfriend or introduce him to your family or friends as such), and continue dating other guys.
Don’t assume that because you two have been dating for two months that you are exclusive now. That is just silly!
Unless he specifically asks you to be exclusive, he could be dating several other women too.
I LOVE YOU
Ah, those three little words.
First of all, it should never come from you first.
Second of all, if he tells you this before asking to be exclusive, he is insincere and simply manipulating you.
He is only saying it so that you can say it back to him and it lets him know that his con on you is working.
How do you respond when he says this before exclusivity?
Well, you say something like “Aww, that is so nice. I am touched.”
Some men today are so effeminate that they are constantly seeking validation and reassurance using tactics like these. They actually expect that after they say I love you and you say it back to them, now it’s your turn to pursue them for the entire relationship.
When you take this bait, he would then think “Ah ha! She loves me. Now I can relax” and he would start cheating on you or have no interest in pursuing you further.
Also, men who use this tactic have a problem with delayed gratification and with seeking constant validation.
In short, over the course of time, a man like this is more likely to cheat on you because he will constantly be seeking excitement and validation from OTHER women.
So, when should the I Love You phrase be expected?
I would say, within a month or less AFTER being exclusive. And of course, at this stage, you can say it back.
In the early stages and possibly even before he asks for exclusivity, he might already be getting you gifts of a romantic nature such as jewellery, roses, perfume, chocolate and so on.
After he has asked for exclusivity and I Love Yous have been exchanged, is he still giving you romantic gifts on key occasion?
Key occasions will include days like Valentine’s Day, your birthday, Christmas and so on.
When he is serious about you, he would increase the intensity of the romantic gifts after exclusivity and he won’t stop pursuing and trying to win you until after he has placed a wedding ring on your finger.
For example, for our first date, my guy brought me a bunch of flowers. Just a simple bunch of flowers. No roses or anything, but it was a very sweet gesture.
After we became exclusive, he got me red roses.
PS – that was not the only time that I got flowers on a first date. With a majority of first dates that I had before marriage, the men brought flowers on the first date. A couple even brought roses.
So, ff he is dialling back the romantic intensity after Exclusivity and I Love Yous, then he has decided he does not need to pursue you anymore.
For example, before or after Exclusivity and I Love Yous, he gave you flowers and other such romantic gifts, but at Christmas, on your birthday or Valentine’s Day, he gives you something practical instead, like a vacuum cleaner or something
Say nothing about this. Thank him sweetly and then pull back slightly from him: reduced calls, reduced responses to texts, cutting short phone conversations and so on.
MEETING THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY
When a guy wants you as part of his future, he would be very eager for you to meet the significant people in his life, including his close friends and his family.
If you two have been dating for a total of 6 months, including Exclusivity for 3 months or less, but you are yet to meet his close friends and family, there is a problem.
He lied to you about being exclusive.
Pull back from him.
DROPPING HINTS ABOUT MARRIAGE
This can take many different forms and your guy could employ any one or more of this.
- Taking you to important family events, like weddings
- More group dates, dinner parties and so on with his married friends or family members.
- Spending time together with married friends or family members, especially those that have children. He is quietly beginning to think of having a family with you.
- Little jokes or comments about weddings, how you’d look in a dress, your ideal holiday spot (he is planning the honeymoon!), what colour of eyes your kids would have if you two have kids and so on.
- A sudden interest in the type of jewellery you like such as asking what you think of gold, or rose-gold or platinum. He might also start looking more at your hands and fingers.
- Sudden mysterious closeness with your family or close female friends. He could be planning a surprise engagement.
- Asking you out to social events like weddings of close friends, baptisms and so on.
You get the general gist. The dropping hints stage can occur from 9-11 months of the relationship.
Even if you suspect what might be going on, do not drop a hint. Just play along
For a relationship that is on the 2-3 year timeline, the proposal would generally come on your first year anniversary or within 2 months, either side, of it. It could be that you guys had your first date in May, but he decides to propose in February, on Valentine’s Day. Or perhaps, he chooses to propose in July because it is your birthday, for example.
On average, the proposal will come within 18 months or less of your first date.
THE WEDDING DATE
A man truly into you knows that simply giving you an engagement ring does not mean that he now can rest on his oars. He would want to lock you down as soon as possible and would want to get married no later than 12 months from the proposal.
The date needs to be set. Church booked and so on.
If he is stalling for time or telling you that the wedding will happen ‘one day’ or giving you a timeline of 2 years to get married, he is not that into you.
He just wants to either lead you on or kinda keep you in reserve while he explores other options.
Either way, you need to dump him.
So those are the major growth markers of a relationship that is healthy, thriving and progressing.
Write them down, as well as the dates, in your journal and check in regularly to determine whether he is the real deal or not.
You cannot change or control a man or anyone, for that matter. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to do so.
You can, however, change you, your reaction, responses and expectations.
May our Lady gives us wisdom and a discerning heart in all our dealings, and especially within our relationships.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!
ad Jesum per Mariam