I’m a 29-year-old woman, and I’ve been dating a guy for two months. I was scrolling (okay, stalking him) on Instagram and saw a pic of him with this pretty girl with her arm draped around his neck. Does monogamy just happen, or should I initiate the “commitment talk”? –Nervous
Welcome to the place relationship dreams go to die, also known as social media. One moment you see your relationship heading toward the town of OnlyYouville, and the next it’s looking more like a “Ten Commandments” production still of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.
Understand why men commit: because they come to love a particular woman more than they love their freedom – not because they’ve decided it would be a bore to have sex with the Pilates-teaching twins. Getting to “only you” happens after a guy starts to feel attached to you, which comes out of a combination of sexual attraction, emotional compatibility and the sense that you have a package of qualities that he’s unlikely to get from anyone else. Feeling this way takes time – time spent together, and sometimes, a little time spent comparison shopping. Trying to rush the process is like planting a pea in the morning, yelling “Grow! Grow! Grow!” and expecting to be climbing a beanstalk by noon.
Also, even for a guy who’s starting to care about you, hearing “We need to have the commitment talk” can be like hearing the starting gun at the Olympics. There are couples who get serious without ever having this icky conversation. It just happens organically. But to avoid misunderstandings, right from the start, you should be indicating your interest in getting into a relationship. No, not with strategically strewn bridal magazines or messages magic-markered across your breasts. You simply drop remarks about what you want and then ask questions to draw out what a guy’s up for. This allows you to get out fast if your goals aren’t a match – as opposed to getting to the four-month mark, holding him down and screaming in his face: “So what’s it gonna be, buddy? You looking to start a family – or a harem?!”
As for the woman in this photo, she could be someone to your man – or someone standing near him when his friend was taking his picture. (People shooting photos rarely say, “Okay, you two, get as far apart as you can.”) You could ask him – and reveal that you’ve been going all Secret Squirrel on social media. But you could also ask yourself, simply by applying context. Look at the photo as one piece of information in the whole of your experiences with him: Is he increasingly sweet and attentive? Increasingly eager to see you? Are you starting to meet his friends? Chances are, you already have the information you need to figure out whether your relationship is going places – without trying to conduct it at a speed that suggests your ancestry is part French, part Italian and part cheetah.
©2015, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. Order Amy Alkon’s new book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).