“Help! How do I get someone to commit?”

Dear Sarah,

I’ve been seeing an amazing guy for a few months and I’m not sure where to go from here. We met through a dating app and agreed at the time that we were both figuring our lives out and not looking for anything serious at the moment. That was fine, but after the first couple months we started spending a lot more time together. He even met my parents.

He came to my family Christmas party, and we spent New Year’s Eve together listening to music. We swapped movies and music and made each other art. He took care of me for two weeks after I had surgery and couldn’t get around—even taking me to my doctor’s appointments.

I was soooo anti-relationship before I met this guy, but he’s everything I didn’t even know I wanted!

When I got better, we went on vacation for a week. During the vacation, he said he described our relationship as “not something, but not nothing,” which turned to us having “The Talk.” He said that from the beginning, he was honest about not being ready for a relationship—his last breakup was really bad. He also brought up that I’m planning to move away for graduate school in about six months. While he has a point, I said that we could cross that bridge when we come to it. Either he could come with me or we could part ways civilly. He still didn’t want to call it a relationship and said that if I was happy with the way things are (which I am) why is the label so important?

But, oh man, I want that label bad. It kills me a little every time I hear him refer to me as “his friend.” I see two options.

Option One: I can stay with him until I move away, secretly hoping he will change his mind. I continue to enjoy his companionship while living under mild emotional distress and then deal with heartbreak in my new home.

Option Two: I can decide this isn’t what I want and break it off now secretly hoping that if I try to end things that he will come around. If not, I deal with my heartbreak now and try to move on, eventually starting my new life when I move.

Please advise,

Now-or-Later in Wisconsin

Dear Now-or-Later,

Quick—forget option number two! Breaking up with someone with the “hope they will come around” is a dangerous ploy. In general, I’m not a fan of being calculating about love and relationships. Showing some self-control when you are thinking, “I want to text this guy 100 times today…” Yes. That’s simply not acting like a crazy person. But following “rules,” giving ultimatums, and that type of chess maneuver to get what you want—different story. Instead, I’m a proponent of letting things evolve naturally without strategizing too much.

When two people’s relationship goals are out of balance, there usually arises a tough dynamic: he or she who wants the least gets their way. If he doesn’t want to label it, forcing him to could create tension and resentment. BUT…my feeling is, as I’ve said before in the column, “looks like a relationship, feels like a relationship, sounds like a relationship: it is a relationship.” You’re happy, feeling the feelings, he’s a great guy—can you make all that top of mind and work on your insecurity about naming your thing?

Maybe he’s being shady, but it doesn’t really sound like it. If he’s recently had a bad break up and you are definitely moving out of town in six months, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s being self-protective. Try to relax and enjoy your time together now and don’t project too far into the future. Breathe.

Love, Sarah

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