Rachel Zwell | May 4, 2016

Relationship Real Talk:
Playing the Waiting Game

Are you playing the waiting game in your dating life? In your relationship? Do you ever just wonder what are you really waiting for?

Read this post if you’re:


Maybe you went out on a few dates with someone and then suddenly *poof!* they disappear…and you’re left waiting and wondering if they’re ever going to call you again. It’s true that some relationships just end without much discussion or fanfare and we don’t get the closure we want or need. It can leave us feeling unsettled. We don’t have the opportunity to express our feelings or grievances and that can leave us with some unresolved issues.

What about in your relationship? Maybe you’re feeling some distance in your relationship, but you’re not sure why. How much of this is natural and how much is a form of “ghosting” within the relationship? Are you emotionally withdrawing because you can’t gain control in the relationship? Or are you feeling pushed away? Deep down, is it really fear of commitment?

Many times we go into relationships and dating with preconceived notions. We tell ourselves, “I’m afraid of commitment,” or “I’m not good at expressing what I want in relationships.” We call these limiting beliefs.

When we go into relationships with these limiting beliefs, we end up acting out a self-fulfilling prophecy. Things go exactly as we expect them to…because that’s exactly what we set ourselves up to expect. We believe we “are” a certain way and that belief gives us permission to behave accordingly. Holding onto these limiting beliefs can feel safe and comfortable (even if it’s not getting us what we really want).

When We Don’t Get the Gift of Closure

When a relationship ends without the gift of closure, it’s our job to work through and resolve our own feelings and conflicts about it. We can gather lessons and takeaways about our behavior and our contributions to the relationship—but remember: we only have to take responsibility for and own up to the stuff that’s ours. Relationships are a two-way street. Chances are, if someone walked away without saying why or just stopped calling, well, there’s some baggage of their own they need to work on, too.

Here’s where our seven rules of engagement can really help us learn more about our relationships. (You can learn more about the secrets to a happy relationship that no one ever taught you in our book, “The Heart of the Fight.”)

Two of these rules really come into play in this situation:

  1. We are each 100% responsible for our own emotions, feelings and satisfaction in any relationship; and
  2. We can each only take on 50% of the blame in any disagreement because, hey, it takes two to tango.

As we work through what happened, we have to own both what we brought into the relationship and the times when we held back. Were we really engaged with the other person? Did we express the things we truly wanted and fully jump in? Were we true to ourselves?

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Dating is a great opportunity to measure and examine our interactions in a variety of situations. We can learn, “Hey, this is what I hope to get out of relationship, this is what scares me, and this is where I tend to shut down,” and then we can work on how we can accept our reactions and work on expressing our needs better in the future.

We can also see the times when we had different expectations or desires than the other person. If one of you wants a picket fence, a house and three kids, and the other one wants to travel the globe…well, there’s a fundamental difference that may just mean the two of you want different things out of life. It’s totally fine to move toward what you want and strive for your own goals while seeking a relationship that can help you achieve and accomplish those things rather than stand as a barrier.

Playing the Waiting Game when Commitment is the Question

Sometimes we reach the point in our relationship when things start to get serious. Many of us may experience a tendency to pull back a little or balk at the thought of being “reined in.” Once we’re in a relationship, we might feel we’re losing freedom or even a part of ourselves. We might feel like there’s the expectation that we have to change or be something we’re not.

The best relationships allow us to be our true selves. The best relationships are great because they bring out the best traits and strengths in both parties. If you find you’re scared of committing to a relationship, you might need to explore what’s not being met within that union.

Is there a reason you’re holding back? Are you listening to your limiting beliefs, such as, “I’m not the relationship type,” or “I don’t do well when I’m committed to one person”? Is there more to your apprehension?

Explore why you aren’t ready to jump in. If you find some genuine incongruences, then they need to be addressed. If you’ve had the hard conversations and expressed the things you want out of life and you’re still holding back, maybe you need to examine if you’re clinging to preconceived notions of what a relationship is (restrictive, holding you down) and let go of those beliefs if you find them to be untrue.

Whatever you learn from dating, it can be a great opportunity to explore some of these larger questions about ourselves and how we work with and interact with other people. There’s a great chance to find out new things about who you are and what you want from a relationship. Do the work and you’ll enjoy the benefits.


Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.

Let us know how your dating is going! Tune in to our podcast every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.

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Rachel Zwell

Rachel Zwell is one of the core coaches in the Year of Transformation program. She is an emergence coach specializing in empowering individuals to increase their fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives, to achieve their professional and personal goals, and to develop their leadership skills. She coaches and mentors people to develop self-awareness, vision, strategies, and to build skills in social and emotional intelligence. She believes in full engagement and aliveness, and trains people to see and overcome the barriers that prevent them from living fully.

Featured image “Worried Girl” courtesy of Ryan McGuire licensed under CC by 1.0. The original image was altered for this use.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.