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I often heard friends mention it for a while. The principle of many people’s communication is “three no” – not active, irresponsible, no refusal: good at making ambiguity, but not pursuing actively; Can have intimate behavior, but not take responsibility; Don’t reject the kindness of others, but don’t make a commitment.

Although it sounds “dreary,” it seems to be a trend: modern relationships are moving away from clear, interpretable emotional states. According to an online survey of 2647 samples (18-59 years old) in the United States, 69 percent of people are confused about the relationship between the person they are interacting with and are not sure if that can be counted as dating. Another survey of women showed that 73% of women said they “often couldn’t determine whether they were dating,” while 19 percent said they “never had a real date” (Jayson, 2014); S henley, 2010).

Once, it was not difficult to determine a relationship. It was easy to think that we had become a boyfriend / girlfriend with another person and we would like to announce it to the world when we are in love. And we don’t know when we start, we not only disclose our feelings less to the outside world, but in many cases, we don’t even know if we are in a clear relationship. The interpretability of relationships is originally considered to be as important as trust. But our love is getting far away from it, and the ambiguous relationship is going on its way.

How does this relationship become universal because it lacks the state of uncount mobility? Why can’t we accept clear, interpretable relationships more and more? This is the subject we are discussing today.

A state of relations lacking interpretation

In the context of politics, morality and commerce, the account mobility is often translated into “accountability”, which means that the subject needs to be responsible for his activities and behaviors and has the obligation to explain the situation in time. The interpretability in an intimate relationship refers to the clear and consensus of the two parties the relationship; Both parties have the obligation to abide by the commitments in the relationship and also have the right to require the other party to comply with the commitments; If there is a problem in the relationship, it is necessary to let the other party know in time and seek solutions together.

Before, we often thought that the lack of explanation mostly appeared at the beginning of the relationship, such as “friends above, lovers not full” ambiguous. But in fact, this state may appear in all stages of an intimate relationship, even throughout a relationship (degges white, 2017; Perel, 2014)。

1. uncertain start:

In many cases, when two people first start to communicate, they lack mutual confirmation of the relationship state. Everyone has different definitions of “dating”, “love” and “relationship”. Some people think dinner together and watching movies are dating. Some people think that holding hands and kissing is a date. Others think that even having sex doesn’t mean anything. Therefore, if there is no explanation and explanation, it is likely that one side thinks that two people have entered into love, but the other side does not think so at all.

2. ambiguous end:

Some relationships are also lack explanation at the end of the relationship, there are no specific contradictions, triggering events, no conflicts, no clear communication and separation confirmation. Some people choose to disappear suddenly and cut off the contact unilaterally; Some will reduce the frequency of contact and become indifferent, but they do not give accurate explanation, and the other half is often unable to get an explanation, and they can not bear to stop the relationship.

3. maintain a long-term unclear state in the relationship process:

Sometimes, our lack of explanation at the beginning of the relationship will continue to the whole process of the relationship, and both sides maintain an unclear and closed relationship. Some people are in the state of non-traditional exclusive relationship in essence, but they have not obtained the informed consent of both parties. For example:

·Spare wheel:

Some people have multiple potential partners who can flirt and support at the same time, which is what we call the “spare wheel”. Even if they have a stable relationship for a while, they remain ambiguous with others. Some people hope that they can achieve different goals from different people; Some people think of the spare wheel group as a “cushion” of relationships, and when they are considered to be the main relationship, they may also consider looking for “positive” options in the group.

·Hiding:

You think you are in love with him or a partner you identify with, but you may find that although you have some behaviors and status between the lovers, he never publishes photos or publishes your relationship on social networks, nor introduces you to his family or friends. Sometimes you feel like you are hiding in a corner by the other person, never touching other parts of his world.

Why are more and more people in a relationship that lacks explanation?

Esther Perel said that it is the need and fear of modern people, which makes the intimate relationship more and more farewell to the state that can be clearly explained and enter the “stable uncertainty” state. We are all afraid of loneliness and desire to be connected with others, but for various reasons, we are not willing to fully engage in stable intimate relationships and enjoy the freedom of this fuzzy boundary (perel, 2014).

The theory of interdependence of intimacy holds that the essence of a relationship can be measured by reward and cost. We all hope to pay a smaller price to get more rewards, the cost is the sacrifice to pay, the possible risks, etc., while the reward is emotional satisfaction, economic asylum or others. If we assess that the cost of clarifying a relationship is more and less rewarding, it will weaken our motivation to enter a certain relationship (as cited in, Miller, 2014).

1、 Identifying relationships can cost more because we have more alternatives.

When we measure the choice, the key factor determining whether we are in a relationship is alternative choice. This alternative option is not only other objects to choose from but also other ways of life. We choose to maintain a relationship with another person because our state in the relationship will be better than that without it, that is, there is no better alternative option (as cited in, Miller, 2014).

Today, our alternative options are far more and easier to access than in the past.

1. clear relationship means giving up more potential contacts.

Modern people can get more potential objects and more convenient ways. According to the United States, in the 1950s, the average time between the two people took six months of interaction / pursuit to have an initial sexual relationship, which was about three dates in the 1980s, and now only a “covenant” is required on dating software (Abad Santos, 2014). The progress of the Internet and the development of online dating tools make it easier for us to reach different people. With simple left and right sliding, you can match people who are close to your region and see each other in a few minutes.

We are also more likely to maintain more appointments at the same time through convenient means of communication. For example, you may be eating with your date at the same time, and WeChat from the other.

If we want to make a clear relationship, especially to allow both parties to open up the relationship, we may lose the opportunity to communicate with other alternative objects.

2. clarify that the relationship may lose more possibilities of life.

Compared with the more stable life of the elders, the variability of our lives has also increased. The development of transportation makes us easier to migrate, and the convenience of information makes it possible for us to contact and try more ways of life in our life. If you have a clear relationship with another person, it means you need to think about the future of both people together, and you will lose some other possibilities of life.

3. being single is happier than entering a relationship.

One of the effects of love is to stimulate us and get spiritual satisfaction. However, as our lifestyle becomes more diverse, we are not easy to let ourselves idle. Besides love, there are more channels to stimulate and have satisfaction. If you make a clear relationship, you need to give up the pleasure that you have when you are single.

2、 A clear relationship can cost more.

1. common “property” increases the possible risks.

In the past when information is less open and mobile, when we consider the risk of a relationship, we may consider more about the economic property, or the common children and relationships. But today, the distance between people becomes smaller, privacy becomes less, and any information we have published may be recorded. Clearly defining a relationship and disclosing the relationship also means the coincidence of corresponding social relations and network information. The more common property, the more likely it will bring potential risks. When we face the end of the relationship, the cost we need to deal with may also be higher.

2. the promotion of women’s rights consciousness may lead to the male being less willing to enter into a clear relationship.

With the improvement of women’s rights awareness, dating culture has changed. Women become more independent and are willing to take on more responsibilities, but they also demand more equality and feel that they have the right to end the relationship.

But it also makes the “stable” relationship between men and women difficult to maintain in the male-dominated society, which affects some men’s decision on the relationship. They believe that because of women’s voice on rights, they may ask more about the relationship, not only satisfy the role of attachment and service, so entering a clear relationship may be more “troublesome” and require more male pay. Moreover, when women are no longer attached and subordinate, they may end the relationship at any time, which also increases the risk of a relationship.

Who it easy to explain the relationship clearly?

While it is increasingly difficult to give a relationship a clear explanation in general, there are also people who are always more afraid to give a clear explanation of the relationship (degges white, 2017).

·Self centered: Interpretation and commitment usually mean mutual benefit and responsibility. But self-centered people usually only start from their own needs, do not care about others’ feelings, and are unwilling to bear corresponding responsibilities. It is a heavy constraint for them to make a relationship clear.

·People with a low sense of reality: if the self-centered people choose fuzzy and unexplained relationships, the people with a low sense of reality passively make such choices. Because they lack the ability to reality tests, it is difficult to feel the feelings of others. They think their ideas can be known to each other, and they have feelings that others also have. Such people often have narcissism problems, they do not realize that their communication mode with each other is not clear and unfair.

·People who lack confidence in ability: some people choose not to explain a relationship because they don’t believe they have the ability to bear a clear relationship and fulfill one-on-one commitments. For example, the backwardly attached people fear intimacy and interdependence, and they can feel that they are not easy to give commitments, so they will stay in a vague relationship. If the other half asks for clear communication and definition, they will create enormous pressure on them.

·Passive people: for passive people, it’s safer for them not to explain. At the beginning of communication, they were difficult to communicate and confirm the relationship actively, and they were often in the state of “pushing the boat along the water”; In the process of relationship, it is difficult for them to communicate on the issues that should be dealt with; At the end of the relationship, they may have already had plans to be dissatisfied or separated, but they think they can not solve the problem positively and fear the conflicts that may arise, so they may choose to disappear without explanation.

Why do we need to leave a relationship that lacks explanation?

Sometimes, when we analyze the pros and cons, we may fall into a delusion that the ambiguous, unexplained relationship is perfect. It enables us to enjoy intimate rewards, but we do not have to invest in it all and have no obligation to think more about each other and meet the expectations of each other.

1. however, this lack of explanation of the state of relations is harmful to both sides.

Behind the lack of explanation is our desire for power, and fear of costs and risks. There is a competition for power in each relationship, and it is the person who has less dependence on the relationship, more independence and autonomy because they can leave the relationship more easily. Therefore, we hope to be able to avoid possible risks and gain more power in an ambiguous way.

However, it is difficult to run smoothly in the relationship of serious unequal power. When the relationship is not clear, a typical situation is that one party regards the relationship as a one-to-one, formal love relationship, but the other does not think so. Although he neither admits nor denies it. It is true that the latter seems to have more power, but such emotional exchange is not balanced and difficult to last, because the former will produce pain and will not be satisfied with maintaining such a relationship for a long time. A stable and healthy relationship must be based on the basic equivalence between pay and return, and the basic balance of power struggle.

Another situation is that both people in the relationship are unwilling to make decisions to determine the relationship, so they jointly maintain a state of tacit ambiguity. This state may be able to stay for a while, but it is false, and it does not have the trust, sincerity and empathy contained in the real intimate relationship, nor can we give a sense of belonging. Although we are in it and accompanied by others, we will still feel lonely. Such a relationship is also quite fragile because as long as one party is dissatisfied and wants to leave, the relationship will quickly disintegrate.

2. there is no problem with the non-one-to-one relationship itself, but clear explanation and agreement are necessary. 

The harm of the lack of explanation relationship often comes from the information asymmetry between the two sides. As we said before, it is difficult for the two people to operate healthily for a long time if they have a different understanding of the relationship and do not communicate clearly. No matter how much acceptance is, what difference is between values and preferences, only a clear explanation and commitment can help the other party avoid misunderstanding.

Many people misunderstand the meaning of “commitment”, saying that commitment means a commitment to a one-to-one relationship, or commitment to absolute long-term loyalty. But in fact, commitment is just a clear agreement on the relationship, and you can choose the scope and extent of your commitment. No matter what kind of relationship you want to choose, make sure that each party in the relationship understands your ideas clearly and reaches a consensus on the relationship. We have introduced in the previous article “non one-to-one relationship”. If a relationship is one-on-one, and informed consent is also obtained, both parties (or parties) in the relationship may have the possibility of getting happiness, but we must also make a commitment to “non exclusive”.

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