Relationships have a certain flow about them. Regardless of who you are, it tends to go something like this: you meet and greet, you fall for each other, and you end up dating.
After a while, you grow apart, and one of you gets dumped.
Or, the alternative, you have a huge argument, the one that makes everything different, but you don’t break up *very rare, since most people break up at least once while they’re together*. After some time, you make up, work on things seriously, mature as a couple, and have a great, healthy dynamic. Unless you just never get back together.
This is usually the time marriage is brought up seriously, not just the “when we have a life together, we’ll have a mansion,” talk. Of course, not everyone gets married. Some people think their love is enough, and opt out of marriage, focusing instead on their happy relationship.
Sounds too fairy tale-like? Well, being happy and healthy together isn’t the end. Being happy and healthy takes work. But by this point, you’re probably wondering what’s going on with your relationship. You’re wondering why you’re stuck in one stage, and not moving toward the next.
Everyone’s pace is different, so it’s not a particular matter for concern, but you will know if it’s an actual issue. It’s just one of those things, you know. If it’s been years of one thing, you’ll get jaded, resentful, and start to wonder what life would be like without that person. If you’re already at that point, what should you do?
Why your relationship isn’t progressing
What could possibly be the roadblock that’s standing in the way of your relationship moving on to the next level? Here are 10 possible culprits.
#1 Fear of commitment. Terrible way to start the list, right? Wrong. Might as well get the worst reason out of the way first, so when you get to the end, you realize it doesn’t all have to be negative.
For long-term relationships, which are the ones that get to the standstill part, obviously, it’s common to have a fear of commitment.
Chances are, you’ve been together for years. What if you never got to experience X, Y and Z? What if you are afraid of taking a bigger step, since the whole long-term thing seems big enough? Not everyone feels this way, but it is pretty common.
#2 One of you feels like you haven’t accomplished goals or made enough progress in other areas of life. Most people attribute this to men, specifically, saying how a man needs to feel like a provider, like he’s winning at life, and like he is worthy before taking the plunge with a woman. That statement is half true.
Women are the same, but slightly different. Women want to be successful and accomplish certain career goals, too. Most won’t turn down a proposal if they haven’t accomplished those goals yet, but they will wish it had happened a little later. That stereotype that women want to be married as fast as possible? Myth. Everyone wants to get certain things done before getting married. Or before moving in, or before meeting the parents, etc. It’s not just about marriage with this reason.
#3 Finances. Short and simple. Money makes the world go round. If you don’t have enough money, you can’t move in together, can’t go on as many date nights, can’t get married, can’t plan a family, can’t take that first vacation together *important in any relationship*, etc.
For instance, if you’ve been dating someone for years, and you’re both broke, chances are, that dream of moving in together is a long, long journey away. So, you end up doing the same thing time and time again, hanging out at mom and dad’s, and probably not going out a lot since you don’t have the means. Standstill.
#4 Growing apart, but not knowing what to do about it. There’s a stereotype that when you’re with someone and you don’t see eye-to-eye anymore, you simply throw the relationship away. In reality, most people have a tough time with this. Even if your partner is completely different from what they were two months ago, you still have the feelings, the memories, and the desire to make it work. Only, you don’t know what to do about the situation.
A standstill is the answer, where you both continue dating, and have feelings, but you don’t know how to handle the new dynamic. Your best bet? Waiting it out, or joining the fun, so your partner realizes what you’ve been dealing with and thinks, “this isn’t us.” [Read: 12 reasons couples grow apart over time]
#5 One of you simply doesn’t feel that “rush” since “you’ll be together forever.” No, the quotations around “you’ll be together forever,” aren’t mocking, they’re reality: death is inevitable. And everyone knows about the rush. Everyone reaches an age where their friends are getting married. Then, it’s like a giant race to married life.
For others, the race means the race of trying to move in together. Meanwhile, others feel the pressure to reach a certain stage in a relationship. For instance, the man might want to reach the point in which he can go to the bathroom with her. She might refuse that for a while.
Every relationship has its own rhythm. Whatever your version of the “rush” is, one of you isn’t on the same page, not out of any negative feelings, but because they know you’re the one. It’s like a backhanded compliment. It’s like saying “I love you, and know you’re the one for me, but because of that same reason, I don’t feel the need to rush, so let’s sit here and enjoy the standstill for a while.” In all honesty, it’s both annoying and romantic. [Read: 10 steps to reignite the lost spark in a relationship]
#6 One of you is still hanging onto youth a little too long or feels too young. Two separate methods of reasoning about the same thing. Hanging onto youth means you know, even subconsciously, that you should grow up. Your age says so. Your relationship more so. And yet, you just don’t want to let go. You want to be able to stay out till sunrise and make poor choices.
Feeling too young means the reality that you’re older hasn’t hit you yet, or that you don’t feel like you have what it takes to take the next step yet, whatever that step may be.
#7 Not having priorities in order/taking things for granted. One, or both of you, could be making the mistake of taking things for granted. It could be that you’ve been together for so long, you assume they won’t leave. It could be you’ve come to expect a certain treatment from your partner because you’re so used to it.
Whatever you’ve gotten used to, one or both of you has reached the “I expect it” zone, rather than the “you didn’t have to, but thank you” zone. You may even feel like you expect them to be there, even if you slack off on responsibilities. You might throw priorities away, since they have their situation organized. Surely, they’ll take care of things for you. No. This is leading to a standstill because your partner isn’t your parent. [Read: 16 discreet signs you’re being taken for granted by your lover]
#8 You simply haven’t sat down to talk about what the next step means, or what you both envision. That level of communication isn’t open yet. It’s not that you don’t want to talk about it, though it could be, in some cases. Most likely, it’s that it’s a hard topic to bring up. People who have been dating for years can still stumble on this. But like riding a bike, once you do it successfully the first time, it stops being daunting.
If you’ve been dating for a year, a little miniature talk isn’t out of hand. Nothing about marriage, unless you both clearly want that, but more about meeting special people in each other’s lives that you may not already know. Or moving in some of your belongings to their place.
If you’ve been together for years, then yes, you can have a much more serious talk. You’ve invested so much time already, and clearly, you feel like the next step isn’t coming fast enough. Opening that level of communication is key.
#9 Relationship issues need to be sorted out. This is, by far, the most common of all reasons. It could be that you, your partner, or both of you feel like there are things you need to take care of within the relationship, before taking a stroll to the next stage.
It could be that your partner has issues opening up to you. It could be that you aren’t entirely truthful all the time. It could be that you both argue too much, over little things. It could be anything! If it’s taken a toll on your relationship, there’s a good possibility that it’s the reason you’re at a standstill.
#10 Insecurity. Is your partner feeling jealous of your coworker? Are you wondering if you have the same seemingly magical effect on your partner as you once did? Is nothing of significance actually happening, but one of you feels like they’re just not worthy anyway?
Insecurity brings things to a grinding halt. It’s basically a barrier preventing access to the next phase together. If you or your partner is unsure about something, it’s best to lay it out clearly, and resolve the issue as fast as possible, before it becomes an even bigger issue.
Relationships are made up of several stages, and every single person has their own perception of the right pace. No two people are exactly the same, so why should it be different with relationships? If you’re simply unsure of how you’re doing, keep that in mind. If you’ve reached the point in which it’s actually an issue, then consider this list, and see if any of these reasons apply to you.
There’s no such thing as an unresolvable issue, especially in a relationship, which should be a place of understanding and comfort for you and your partner.