How To Handle The Awkward Moment That Makes Or Breaks A Relationship

by Francisco Alvarez

I stayed home this past Friday night, cooked myself some dinner and looked for something to watch on the tube.

I landed on "That Awkward Moment," a Zac Efron romantic comedy released this past year. In case you haven't seen it, the plot circles around the inevitable turning point most relationships reach that require a major decision: move forward or move on.

If you're anything like me, you've invested in one or two relationships that have reached this plateau. Granted, the decision is ultimately up to you and there is no right or wrong answer.

I first feel the need to paint a picture for you so that you have a better understanding of where I'm coming from. Let's say, for argument's sake, that you've been dating someone for close to three months now.

Things are going well and moving along at a comfortable pace for both of you — at least that's how it feels.

One night, you decide to go your separate ways. In reality, what you really need is some time to assess each other and figure out what your next step will be. You're both laying in separate beds, brainstorming your lives.

On one hand, you think that you're exactly where you need to be and are getting what you want from the relationship. Meanwhile, your significant other is on the other side of town, unsatisfied and wanting more from you. It seems that you're destined for an impasse.

The question is: How do we know when to hang on and when to let go?

I'm won't lie to you; coming to an answer is never easy. It's always a difficult position to be in, especially when the parties involved want different things. I can only speak from experience on this one, and I'll lay down my preferred method to finding a solution.

When facing relationship purgatory, I usually make a mental checklist and divide it into two very important groups.

The first group is composed of the things that need to happen within the first three months of dating, and the other group is made up of the must-have qualities my partner needs to possess.

I find that having this personal checklist clears up a lot of the confusion that lingers between you and your partner, and provides clarity as you formulate the next step.

Let's begin by tackling the first part of our checklist. Right off the bat, I need to feel a "click" with that other person. I think it goes without saying that chemistry is a must in relationships and the sooner I feel it, the better.

Compatibility is by far the most important because this is someone in whom you may invest a lot of time. Your wants, needs, likes and dislikes better be aligned, or at the very least, quite similar. After three months, it's safe to say you have a pretty good idea of what these are in a suitable mate.

Next on the list is a good sense of direction. I've been known to be big on looking for people who have honed in on their talents. In other words, I need to know that the person I'm seeing has a clear-cut outlook on her purpose in life.

I do not discriminate on what her objective is, just as long as it gets her out of bed in the morning and serves as her motivation to live fully and strive for greatness in her respective field. If I don't see that fire in her belly or, even worse, no desire to acquire it, I tend to get turned off easily.

Finally, communication is indispensable for me. I'm no clairvoyant, which means I have absolutely no idea what my partner is thinking unless it is communicated. I'm a person who likes to be on the same page with my significant other on all levels, and the only way we'll be able to do that is if we talk things out on a consistent basis.

Good communication can lead to a plethora of great things for a relationship, and when it falters, it holds the ability to distance yourself from one another and create an unwanted gap between couples.

The second part of my mental checklist is also important because it is what I feel have the potential to make me whole and complement me quite well.

The first on that list is intelligence. The ability to stimulate me intellectually tops this list by a landslide.

I need to have a person by my side who can carry a conversation easily, intrigue me mentally and inspire me through thoughts and even new ways of thinking. Intelligence is undoubtedly the most attractive requirement I deem necessary.

A great sense of humor immediately follows intelligence. It may sound cliché, but if you asked 100 women their favorite attributes in a guy, I bet you 99 percent of them would want a guy to make them laugh.

We want to crack up every now and then, too, and I find it very refreshing when a woman frees me from that stereotype of having to be funny and can make me laugh for a change. The best sense of humor is the one that comes naturally and effortlessly, the witty kind, inspired by life itself.

My final requirement is a little outside the box and very personal in nature. I need to feel as though the girl I'm seeing will see me as a necessary luxury.

In other words, she must be more than willing to keep me in her life for the long haul because she feels like I can contribute positively in her life, but not to the point where she can't live without me.

Let me clarify: I'm not afraid of commitment or scared of attachment. What I mean by that is independence is very important to me as an individual, and I need to see the same level of its appreciation of in my counterpart.

There is nothing on this earth more relative to any one of us than love and relationships. If the person you're dating is someone you can depend on and share life with, then by all means, give him or her a chance to take things to the next level.

You can't know where things will go unless you give the person a fair shot; you don't want to second-guess yourself later by giving yourself the 'what if?' treatment.

On the other hand, if the guy or girl you're seeing just isn't up to par with your expectations of what a relationship should feel like, then I'm afraid it's time to take the high road and look elsewhere.

When you know, you know. So...