In our last blog, we began a discussion of questions that I like clients to consider about commitment. We continue that discussion now:
How will you compromise?
Commitment and compromise go hand-in-hand. Piggybacking on questions discussed in the last posting, figuring out how to give and receive, and how to make improvements in the relationship, may have a lot to do with compromise. Compromise means both parties giving up their ideal scenario to arrive at an option that, if not perfect to either, is workable for both. Learning how to compromise is art more than science. But it’s important to think about what points you’re willing to compromise on, and where you draw the line in terms of compromise. To find these answers, you may need to reexamine your values. Values will remind you of what you hold dear, and areas where making concessions would be too costly to you personally.
How will you support your partner in his endeavors?
At the root of commitment is support. In order to stick with it for the long haul with someone, you need to be committed to his dreams as well as your own. Depending on what these dreams are, being supportive may mean standing by his side and letting him know that you believe in him even when the outcome of his dreams looks unclear. Or it may involve more compromise, as supporting your own dreams as well as your partner’s may be logistically difficult. Make sure you know what’s involved in the plans that your partner has for his future, and ensure that they mesh well enough with your own goals and visions.
What does commitment mean?
Commitment means different things to different people. It’s important to explore what it means to you. It may mean having an exclusive bond with your partner and agreeing not to date or sleep with other people but it may not. It may mean deciding that no matter what obstacle you come up against, you’ll find a way to work through it together. Commitment may involve a legal contract, such as domestic partnership or marriage, with concurrent financial implications. Whatever commitment means to you, knowing where you and your partner stand on the issue can help you determine next steps.
What role does fidelity play?
To some men, fidelity is an important part of the commitment package. To others, it’s less important. Fidelity may mean sexual and emotional exclusivity with one partner, or it may involve shades of gray where two partners decide upon agreed mutual rules of conduct. If exclusive fidelity is important to you but your partner feels differently about it, then communication is essential to ensuring you’re in a workable partnership. It’s hard to compromise when it comes to exclusive fidelity, and in some relationships, failure to see eye-to-eye on this issue may turn out to be a deal breaker.
How will you be an example to others?
Because gay commitment is on center stage of late, I ask clients to consider their thoughts about serving as a role model. More visible forms of gay commitment like marriage are still relatively rare as far as the general public goes, so we need to decide how visible we want our commitment to be to others. For some men, the preference is to stick to more private forms of commitment like exchanging vows or verbally expressing commitment to their partner only. Others feel it’s important to declare their commitment more visibly, in part to help serve as a positive example to other gay people and to society as a whole. Which are you?