Uncertainty is an exciting part of any relationship… until it’s not. Although it may seem harmless, relationship uncertainty can be quite dangerous.
Uncertainty could mean that you’re not sure where the relationship is going *if there’s a relationship at all*. It could mean that you’re not sure if you really want the person you’re with to be your life partner, or you just want casual companionship. It could also mean that a person loves you very much, but they are still married. Actually, if we allow ourselves to list down all the uncertainties that could possibly spring from relationships, we’d be writing a book thicker than the Bible.
Relationship uncertainty and its dangers
Uncertainty in a relationship doesn’t mean that the person is wrong for you. If you gauge the potential of a relationship based on certainty, you would not get past the dating stage. Every person who is dating is not only getting to know their dates, they’re also getting to know themselves and the relationship in the process. That is why it’s unrealistic to expect certainty, when the relationship is still in the early stages.
However, uncertainty becomes unhealthy when it has been going on for a long time *read: more than a year* and both parties are not talking about it, or doing anything to push the relationship forward. You might say, “Well, it’s better than nothing. I have nothing to lose, anyway.” But the fact is, you have a lot to lose. Here are some of the reasons it’s dangerous to stay in a relationship full of uncertainty.
#1 Uncertainty can be a huge blow to your self-esteem. If you’re dissatisfied with the status of your relationship, you might start blaming and feeling sorry for yourself. You will start asking yourself questions like, “Do I not deserve to feel secure?” or “Am I not good enough to be in a stable relationship?”
These questions will haunt you and be detrimental to your self-esteem. Unless you manage your expectations and do something about your relationship, these toxic thoughts will push you into a downward spiral. You will start to believe you are not deserving of the kind of love that you want, so you will likely just accept whatever is tossed your way. You might not be aware of it, but you are slowly falling into a trap—a trap that is firmly established using your low self-esteem… which is very hard to cure.
#2 Zero accountability. If you are not certain about your status as a couple, or you have not talked about your roles and limitations, then it’s easy for you both, to reject accountability for the other’s well-being. If rules are not put in place, neither of you will accept responsibility for each other’s lives and happiness. [Check out: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility]
If you are going through a rough time, should you demand that your partner visit you, so you’ll share your troubles, or would that be too much? If you lost your job, can you expect the other person to pay for your bills? A lack of certainty in a relationship is beneficial only to the one who wants a carefree life. They get to enjoy the good times, but bail during the bad. You can’t demand the big stuff and this will become painfully apparent in desperate times. What if you wind up pregnant—then what happens?
#3 Realizing that we don’t love the person, after all. Some of us find hard-to-get, unpredictable people exhausting rather than exciting. They might be hot one minute, then extremely cold the next. Initially, this behavior might drive us crazy—but we love it! Right? As a result, we embark on a mission to make them fall head-over-heels in love with us. We play their game, because we’re in love with the chase.
What’s dangerous about this is that once all the chasing and drama ends, we might not like the person, after all. If the uncertainty is prolonged, the chase will be prolonged, too, thus delaying the time we get to know the person on a deeper level. Imagine realizing this after your wedding. That would be one big, expensive, life-changing “oops” for you. [Try: 20 questions to ask each other before getting married]
#4 The chance of meeting the right person is greatly minimized. Even though you have plenty of uncertainties in your relationship, you don’t want to date other people. You are still hopeful that things will turn out right, and it’s against your principles to see other people while you’re with someone–no matter how shaky your relationship is.
This limits your chances of meeting other eligible life partners, because you are unapproachable, you will likely turn down other dates, and you won’t present yourself as a single person. Imagine the regret you will feel if you say no to a person you truly adore, just to stick to an uncertain relationship that will eventually end.
#5 Chronic stress. Being in an uncertain relationship makes us feel lonely, tired, and just generally unhappy. Sure, you laugh a lot and enjoy each other’s company, but if you have uncertainties in your relationship that have not been addressed for too long, you will find yourself conflicted. You enjoy each other, but the fact that he still hasn’t proposed keeps you up at night. You get giddy reading her sweet poems for you, but when you see her talking to her ex, you feel the need to punch a wall.
Having uncertainty in a relationship can make you emotionally stressed and unstable. There are times you’ll even start to question your sanity. No kidding! If you feel insecure in your relationship for more than a year, it will greatly affect your body, as well as your mind. Either do a lot of meditation, or confront your issues. [Check out: Secrets of a love-hate relationship – Can it ever work?]
#6 Your life plans become uncertain, too. You want a wedding, three kids, and a nice beach house, but your partner cringes every time you talk about it. We all had plans before we met our significant others, but when they became part of our lives, we accommodated them fully… to the point that we tweaked our life plans.
We integrated our life plans with their life plans because, of course, we wanted to be with them in the future. This “integration” affects us in every aspect of our lives, from the kind of career we try to build, to the kinds of shows we watch on TV. However, if the relationship is uncertain, our life plans become uncertain, too. And isn’t that just tiring? [Try: 13 small changes that greatly improve your relationship]
#7 One day, you will realize you just wasted a decade waiting. We’re not getting any younger, yet we believe things will turn out fine. Optimism and unconditional love are wonderful traits, but if you find yourself waiting for a very long time for things to happen, things to change, or things to finally settle, maybe it’s time to be selfish.
Yes, you read that right. Tell your lover or partner what you really want. Ask if you’re on the same page. You have to get your answers and be level-headed in dealing with it. If you still feel uncertain in your relationship, even after you’ve talked things through, ask yourself if you’re willing to wait even longer. Bear in mind that there’s still no guarantee, even if you choose to wait.
We can’t be fully certain of how things will turn out in our relationships, but if uncertainty is caused by the other person and affecting us greatly, then it’s important to do something about it, using a timeline that’s fair for both parties.
[Next, read: 10 reasons your relationship is at a standstill]
It’s unfair to force the other person to define the relationship, but it’s equally unfair to keep you waiting. Don’t dwell in relationship uncertainty—discuss your relationship and where it is heading as soon as you comfortably can.