By Frank Kermit
Sometimes, the only way to move forward in a relationship is to set a deadline.
Setting a deadline when you are dating someone is a way to find out exact how serious someone is about continuing to be with you, and how ready someone is to move your relationship to the next level.
If you have a life plan and feel that you are running out of time because your partner seems like he or she is dragging their heels, asking them for a deadline for when they will make a move may be a good idea.
Dating deadlines are usually related to a couple setting a specific date to move into the next level of commitment in the hierarchy of relationships.
It can mean going from causal dating to a more serious relationship, living separately to living together, going from dating to an engagement, and a deadline to go from engagement to marriage, and to trying to get pregnant.
A deadline can also be about non-relational situations such as buying or selling an asset, and even deciding when to move to another area or city.
In some of the more complex situations I have seen in my practice, it may even involve asking a partner to give up seeing someone else in order to fully focus and commit to the relationship.
If you are thinking about setting a dating deadline, because you suspect your partner is consciously or unconsciously dragging heels about a certain move forward within the relationship, be sure to involve that person in naming the deadline date.
It is always best to let the person who is holding back, to set the date of the deadline.
The key is to let that person pick a deadline he or she feels comfortable with meeting. Then give that person the space he or she needs to meet that deadline.
This will accomplish exactly what you need:
An environment of support and trust that gives your partner everything necessary to meet the deadline without added pressure.
If your partner meets the deadline, you will have moved forward in the relationship together.
If your partner has not met the deadline, and there were no other mitigating circumstances to blame, your partner has no excuse for not meeting the deadline.
Your partner not meeting the deadline is the outward sign you may need to end the relationship.
There was one couple I distinctly remember from my practice that had set a dating deadline that by a certain date, there were to be married.
On what would have been their wedding day, there were still not married (not even close to the planning stages of a wedding), and they decided to come in for a coaching session together to figure out why it had not happened.
A deadline not met should often be seen as a red flag.
However, it does not need to automatically declare the end of a relationship.
In some cases, an unmet deadline can also be the push necessary to start a path of personal growth and healing, to get your relationship where you want it to be.