How To Take Your Relationship To The Next Level

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If you’ll forgive us for our umpteenth Sex and the City reference, we’d like to remind you of the time Charlotte blew up her wonderful, loving relationship with Harry because of her crazy-making desire to get married. Next, we’d like to implore you: Don’t be that girl. We know how frustrating it can be when you’re ready, sometimes desperately ready, to move something to the next level and your significant other seems content to chill in relationship purgatory for all of eternity. Still, you’re not going to get what you’re after by badgering, belittling or guilting your better half, as there’s nothing sexy about such pressure. Here, five simple tips for propelling your relationship to the next step that will make the progress feel organic, even if it’s technically not.

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How To Move Your Relationship Forward, Without The Pressure

We have friends in their 30s who are already divorced, in large part because they got married for the wrong reasons. If you're feeling the urge to take that big step, we invite you to examine the reasons you're feeling it to ensure they aren't influenced by society, the wedding industry or some other outside factor that is not specific to your significant other. This step applies to early stages of a relationship as well, when you might be trying to transform something casual into something committed. Ask yourself if you even truly like the person you're trying to tie down, or if it's more about wanting to ensure that they like you, before you try to push things forward.

All deeply rooted damage exposes itself in our relationships, and though you may know your partner well (ideally!), you may not fully understand all the ways in which they've been scared away from true intimacy. Rather than experiencing their response as a rejection, or as a defect in them, listen to what they have to say with an open, empathetic mind in much the same way you'd listen to a friend. Try to be as objective as possible in this step, as some of the reasons they may want to slow things down could actually—gasp!—be valid.

If you've reached this step, it should mean that you've heard your significant other's reasons for dragging their feet, but that this knowledge hasn't changed your perspective on how things should be progressing. At this point, we suggest you tell them it's fine if they can't further commit just yet, but that you'll be dating other people while they figure it out. Without playing games—you have to actually feel that you should be out meeting other people if your SO can't give you what you need—this tactic flips the script so that it's no longer about them (or when they'll be ready) but is instead about you (that you're going to get the commitment you want, regardless). This is usually a pretty effective means for getting your lover to realize that the decision actually isn't just about him or her, and that they have to consider you and your needs if they want to maintain the relationship. In an ideal world, this step will facilitate, at the very least, a compromise between your comfort level and theirs. Note: If your partner agreed to work through their issues, we do not recommend taking this step quite yet, as they deserve the chance to do so first.

As discussed, you don't want to be the girl begging for someone to commit (remember, they should be begging you!). That said, it's not healthy to stay in a relationship in which your needs aren't being met, so if your needs include marriage on some sort of time line, an exclusive commitment or some other step forward that your significant other is not willing to take, you should set a hard-out date for yourself. Remember, there is absolutely nothing shameful or crazy about wanting what you want! If, once you've left, your significant other comes after you, awwww. If not, you'll be glad you didn't waste more of your time feeling frustrated and unfulfilled in a dead-end relationship, and you can use these tactics for surviving the breakup while making this list of songs your empowering, post-split playlist.

If your last relationship ended in an unmet ultimatum as outlined in step 4, you should make sure that when you begin dating again, you're not afraid to give voice to your relationship goals early on. Any potential partner who is scared off by you saying something to the effect of, "I'd like to get married and have kids in the next five years," is someone you want to run away from you lest you end up in the same place again—trying to push someone down the aisle who isn't ready or interested in being there with you.