There is a difference between a companionship with a commitment and one without it. Friendships and a “mutual understanding” (MU) relationships are categorized under companionships without a commitment. Marriage or relationships akin to marriage (like having a girlfriend or a boyfriend) are considered under companionship with a commitment. But sometimes, even those who have said “yes” to a proposal, may not be really committed. So, how do you know?
Without a commitment, the relationship relies on the following:
1. Spontaneity. Take for example friendships. We hang out with them at any time we want. There are no schedules. Usually we go out with friends when one or more of us “feels” like it. You can beg off if you have a headache or if you are dead tired.
2. Mutual Interest. We usually have sets of friends. We have friends who love to go to movies. There are those who love to spend time in a cafe. And still some, our sports buddies. We go out with those who will enjoy what we want to do at present.
3. Convenience of circumstance. Many of those we share our daily lives are those from our circle of friends who live and work within our situations. We have friends from school, work, or even in our organizations. And sometimes, when we move on, we form other sets of friends.
With a commitment, the relationship relies on:
1. Regularity. Dates are planed and scheduled. Whether one has a persistent headache or tired from work, couples will keep the set date. The relationship becomes more a choice than determined by what we feel doing. Usually a relationships begins to be shaped as a spontaneous relationship, then becomes more fully chosen and more consciously cultivated. I know of a couple who maintain their relationships by having their Mondays as their day together.
2. Mutual interest or different interest. Committed relationships may begin from sharing the same likes and dislikes. But after the couple gets to know each other, they begin to see what makes them unique and different from each other. And therefore many couples try to love also what the other loves, even if they are beyond our comfort zones or entirely alien from us.
3. Finally, committed companionships can withstand distance and long periods of absence. Naturally, when one is committed to another, they will exert efforts to maintain the relationship. The relationship is not anymore determined by distance and long periods of absence: they make a conscious effort to keep the relationship strong despite the challenge of physical separation.
I have heard many long-distance love stories. These couples asked me to officiate their weddings. One couple relates how their relationship had been tested by distance. After their college graduation, the boy left for the US while the girl continued her MBA. They were separated the whole post-graduate studies. But they decided to call each other at the time they ordained they would. That kept their relationship solid until they got married and migrated to the US. The relationship determines the circumstances than being determined by them.
With that decision, the I-and-You becomes a We.
And if you want a relationship to turn from a We to the I-separated-from-You, all you have to do is take the opposite road: don’t keep the regularity; stop discovering and loving what makes you distinct from each other; and finally, let the circumstance like distance determine your relationship.