This is when you’re single and you are getting together with another single person and you are not exclusive, but you are getting to know this person, and you might have a few dates before you decide to become exclusive. This is the stage that some people stay in for years. Other people, on the second
date they’re exclusive. The dating relationship is generally non-exclusive.
Pre-committed relationships are when you have found somebody, and you’ve been dating and now you are exclusive. Both of you are not dating anybody else anymore. You have now decided to be an exclusive couple, but you are not yet committed. It is a form of commitment to be exclusive, but it’s not a committed relationship. What’s on your mind when you’re in a committed
relationship is, “Is this the right relationship for me? Should I make a commitment here?” It’s a very good question, a very conscious question and this is a stage of relationship that I love. It’s a great stage for relationship coaching to help a new couple, a pre-committed couple, become clear: Is this a good long term fit for you? Should you become committed, would that be a good choice?
The pre-marital relationship is when the decision has been made: “Yes, we want to become committed. We want to get married.” They haven’t done it yet, but the decision has been made. So, the question, “is this the right relationship for me, should I make a commitment here,” has been answered, but
the commitment hasn’t been formally made yet. It’s still reversible and it’s still important to explore compatibility, building a good foundation for your long-term relationship, so that when you do become
committed you have a good start. The pre-marital stage is when you’ve already answered that question and you’ve decided to become committed; you just haven’t taken the step yet. Again, sometimes couples stay in this stage for a very long time.
Then of course there are committed relationships. In today’s world there are all sorts of alternative lifestyles and different kinds of relationships and we want to respect them all. But committed relationships are committed. Marriage is an obvious form of a committed relationship. It’s a legally binding agreement.
There are legal consequences and you must go through a legal process to break it up. But also, you can make a commitment but not be legally married. A commitment is quite serious and we’ll explore what that looks like and what it means.