Back in the day, it was fairly easy for a couple to tell what their level of commitment was. The progression looked a little like this: Dude asks Chick out. Dude and Chick have a nice first date. Dude asks Chick out again. They hold hands. On the third date, Dude kisses innocent Chick. Now Dude and Chick are “going steady”. After a period of courtship, Dude gives Chick a promise ring, indicating his intention to marry her. Soon after, Dude gets down on bended knee. Dude and Chick are married and committed for life (Chick’s innocence is lost forever). Ah, the simple life.
Things are little more complex these days, especially in Park City. With all of our seasonal relationships, the ongoing merging of cultures, and even the possibility that you may be dating someone who speaks a completely different language, it appears that we Parkites are in desperate need for some commitment clarification. So here’s my best attempt to help out the commitment-baffled among you:
Level 1: Introduction. You meet and shake hands. You remember each other’s names and (if you’re the friendly type) you say hello when you see them 20 minutes later at the next bar. Commitment Level: non-existent.
Level 2: Budding Interest. You find someone interesting. Lo and behold, they think you’re interesting as well (double fist-pump!!). You go on a date. It goes well. You go on another date. Commitment Level: non-existent, with potential for the future. Which brings us to….
Level 3: Confusion. This is the stage in which both people start asking themselves “are we dating?” (Of course, both parties think better of asking their partner this question, so instead they analyze their partner’s every move to narrow down the clues… very productive approach, by the way). Commitment Level: getting closer.
Level 4: Confirmation. Okay, so at this point one or both people have driven themselves crazy trying to figure out if they’re “dating” or “exclusive” or “in a relationship” (or some other varying description of the same thing). At this point someone explodes (typically at the most inconvenient time) with “what are we DOING? What am I to you?” This discussion can also be referred to as “The Talk.” Assuming this discussion doesn’t result in a break-up, the couple moves on to the next level of commitment. Commitment Level: low, but unambiguous (ladies, this is usually when you breathe your first sigh of relief – you’re officially in a relationship!! Victory! Okay… I’m totally stereotyping. I know for a fact that a lot of guys in Park City do the same thing. My deepest apologies).
Level 5: Giddy in Love. Ahhhh… the Romance Phase. This is definitely the most fun of all of the stages of commitment. You and your partner have finally eliminated most of those pesky “exclusivity” concerns, so you’re now free to fully explore what this relationship’s got to offer. Life seems magical. Your partner is perfect. How did you ever live without them? Commitment Level: Getting stronger by the day.
Level 6: Committed to “Right Now”. Uh-oh. Warning! The Romance Phase is starting to diminish and reality is setting in. Somehow, your perfect partner has flaws. How did that happen? You start to fight about everything under the sun. Your wonderful partner is now annoying and clearly crazy, and you wonder how you ever thought this would last forever. Commitment Level: Ummm…..
Level 7: Back on Track. Okay, you were a teensy bit scared there for a minute, but things are okay. You and your honey have ironed out the big issues, and the smaller issues don’t seem all that bad anymore. You realize that even though your partner isn’t perfect, he/she is still wonderful and you’re still a good team. Actually, it occurs to you that all of those fights were actually helpful in building a solid foundation of friendship, trust and love. Commitment Level: Stable.
Level 8: Exploring the Future. At this point, you and your partner are fairly certain that this relationship has long-term potential. Your conversations include future plans, you are integrated in each other’s lives, and you’ve found a healthy balance of individual and couple-time. Commitment Level: Lookin’ Good.
Level 9: Planning the Future. For the traditional among you, this is also referred to as the Pre-Marital Stage. You and your partner are confident enough in the relationship to make your intention to stay together public. At this point, you may get engaged or move in together. Your relationship continues to deepen, and you refine your communication and conflict resolution skills (hopefully) as you collect fine dishware and monogrammed towels. Commitment Level: Pretty Damn Committed.
Level 10: The Holy Grail. Church bells. Flowers. Big white dresses. To many, these images symbolize the highest level of commitment (marriage – do I need to say it?). However, the real holy grail of commitment extends far beyond your wedding day. It doesn’t end when you board the plane for the tropics. Instead, true commitment is a decision you make every day of your life - to yourself as well as to your partner. This level of commitment includes acceptance, unconditional love, patience, and being genuine and authentic in every possible moment. It’s not easy, and less than 5% of couples actually achieve this level of commitment. But when you do, you realize there’s no better experience on Earth. Commitment Level: No questions. No doubts. Just love.