5 Things To Consider Before Taking The Next Step In Your Relationship

by Sara Uzer

Speaking up and expressing our true feelings to another person isn’t a simple task. Obviously, in today’s hook-up culture, how can it be?

Amidst the consistent, casual relationships we form, we silence pressing “what are we?” thoughts due to the fear of appearing needy or overly emotional. At the same time, we like the way things are and we don’t want to potentially ruin a good thing.

Nobody wants to get hurt, but nobody likes to be strung along with no answers, either.

Maybe we believe we owe it to the other person at this point. Or, maybe, we think we’re “too old” for this casual way of dating and we deserve closure.

However, before you torture yourself over the possibility of scaring the other person away, remember to figure out whether you are ready to consider moving forward, or if it’s just not in the cards right now.

Here’s how to determine what next step you should take in a situation:

1. Determine whether you want to be with this person, or if you just want to be with someone.

How much does this person mean to you? Here, it is critical to think long-term, not only as far as next weekend.

This person may be fun, but is he or she someone with whom you could see yourself forming a relationship? There’s a difference between someone you enjoy meeting up with on Saturday night and someone you genuinely want to spend time with on Sunday afternoon.

Basically, if you feel that the lyrics, “I like us better when we’re wasted,” remind you of this individual, it might be time to reconsider your thoughts.

You may sometimes think you want to start a relationship, but, in reality, you’re just chasing the idea of a relationship, not the actual person.

2. Figure out what you want at this point in your life.

Are you currently figuring out your next career move, or still “working on yourself” (as cliché as that sounds)? Maybe it’s not the opportune time to start a relationship.

Or, are you content with the way things are going in your life, and you're simply seeking someone with whom you can share your happiness?

Take the time to think about it, and don’t make any rash decisions before definitively answering the question.

3. Pay attention to the part this person plays in your life – directly and indirectly.

You may love spending time with this person, but what about when he or she isn't around?

Do you genuinely miss talking to him or her and being together? Do you look forward to the next time you’ll see this person? Or, is it more of an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing?

Be honest with yourself here.

4. Look past the surface.

You’re obviously attracted to this person, but how much do you know about him or her? Think preferences, fears, strengths and weaknesses.

If you don’t feel you know enough, are you interested in learning more? Do you have conversations of substance? Or, is it more like obligatory small talk, where you're both repeating yourselves due to running out of things to say?

Bottom line: You either care about aspects like his or her family life and specific passions, or you just care about how he or she looks naked.

5. Assess your emotional baggage.

Are you over your ex, or just putting on a brave face for show?

Don’t rush into a relationship with someone new just to get over someone from your past. It won’t heal your heartache, and it’s not fair to this person, either.

In this case, you’re not hoping for a relationship, you’re just looking for someone to fill the void. Therefore, make sure you are not seeking commitment for the wrong reasons.

You might reconsider things and conclude that a relationship isn’t the right idea — whether the problem is a timing barrier or personal issues.

However, if you believe that at this point, it’s necessary to discover the other person’s thoughts on the potential progression (or lack thereof) in your relationship, it could be time to say something.

The other person may not be on the same page as you – and that’s okay. It’ll give you your answer, whether it’s the one you were hoping for or not. This will allow you to determine your next move.

From there, you can choose to leave things as they are between you two, or you can move on and find someone whose wants and needs align better with yours.

No right or wrong answer exists -- it just takes a little analysis on your end.

Most importantly, focus on the reality of the situation and examine these circumstances fully. We always talk about the pain of rejection and heartbreak, but rushing into something before you're ready can ultimately be just as detrimental.