9/1/2011 12:32 AM
By Sam Louie, M.A., LMHCA Psychotherapist & Life Coach
In the era of Facebook, men and women in the dating world are often not satisfied until their relationships are “FBO” or ”Facebook Official”. But before you can get to FBO, you must be officially boyfriend/girlfriend. This means getting your dating partner to make an exclusive commitment to you.
It seems simple enough but I’m surprised by how many people are not aware of the DTR principle. DTR stands for “defining the relationship”. If you’re an adult in the dating relationship, you’re doomed to fail if you’re fearful of the dtr. With clients I’ve worked with, if they do not dtr the relationship, they end up either in the platonic friend zone or if they’ve been sexual with each other can end up in the “friends with benefits” category. The timing of the dtr talk is critical. In this hook-‐ up culture, young men and women have no concept of what it takes to be in a committed, exclusive relationship. They think if they have sex, then they presume they’re in a relationship and are shocked, hurt, and confused when sex meant nothing to the other party than mere pleasure.
To understand how sex and commitment are tied together, we can look at the major religious traditions (i.e. Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith). In all three faiths, sex comes within the context of a marital commitment. So as recently as our parents’ generation, the social mores of our culture dictated that people got married so they could have sex regardless of their religious background. But in this hook-‐up culture where we have “friends with benefits”, you can see how the devolution of relationships has relegated sex to nothing more than a physical activity devoid of intimacy, trust, and safety within the context of any type of commitment.
So what does this mean if you don’t come from any religious background or faith tradition? Clients feel its prudish to ask about a commitment before sex as they feel they might be “offending” the person or pressuring them into a relationship. Why talk about it? Why ask for a commitment? Why make the other person uncomfortable? It’s essential because without doing so you’ll never see how he/she feels about the relationship.
So the typical client who wants help in this area usually is a woman who had sex before requiring a commitment. As she continues her sexual relationship, she gets more frustrated hoping the guy will bring it up. She forgets that very few men will make a commitment to a woman whom they do not respect. Men want to be with a woman they respect. If you follow this line of thought, a man will not commit to a woman who can not have enough self-‐respect for herself to ask for a commitment before sex (this is speaking only for men who are interested in committed relationships). No matter how nice, generous, comforting, or loving a woman is, I’ve heard of very few guys committing to a relationship if the woman didn’t require it.
Another way to think about the significance of talking about establishing a commitment before sex is to look at a popular song by John Mayer titled, “Say”. The lyrics can be summed up as, “Say what you need to say”. It’s simple yet powerful. If you’re frustrated by thinking that sex means love or fidelity without any requirement of a commitment, then take heart. Know you deserve better. Know that there are men who are willing to make a commitment to you. But in order to get that commitment, you must “Say what you need to Say”!
~ Sam Louie, M.A., LMHCA Psychotherapist & Life Coach