In a relationship, no matter what kind of relationship it is, the ideal is to be on the same page with each other. It is important to reach agreement. It is important to make decisions that impact both of you together. And to reach a state of mutual certainty regarding anything requires clarity, honesty and communication.
Unfortunately, our relationships are not always ideal. And often, we can find ourselves stuck in limbo and stuck in uncertainty because of the other person that we are in that relationship with. You might be in a situation where the other person does not know what is true for them. They may lack clarity themselves. They may not be giving you enough information. They may not be communicating. They may not be making a decision. And as a result, you find yourself stuck in limbo and waiting… Perhaps you find yourself waiting for them to be certain. Waiting for them to be clear. Waiting for them to make a choice.
It is easy to stay stuck in this scenario. Most people just keep focusing on the other person, desperately trying to get them to become certain. After all, they have you on the hook. But the reality is that you could set yourself free. And the way to set yourself free is to accept that if you are stuck because someone else is uncertain, it means you are uncertain. If you are stuck because someone else has not made a choice, you are not making a choice. Even if what you need to become certain about or make a choice about is what to do in a situation where the other person won’t become clear, won’t communicate, won’t give you any certainty or won’t make a choice.
The reason we become stuck in this dynamic so easily is because we know that if we become clear about what our truth is (regardless of the other person) or if we make an executive decision for ourselves (no matter what they decide) and if we become certain (even if they are uncertain), we are creating more distance between ourselves and the other person. We might be making decisions without their agreement or taking actions despite them. And This not only comes with many potential negative consequences (depending on what specific situation we are in), it also threatens our attachment system, which creates extreme levels of distress.
Each person that finds themselves in this position is going to have to evaluate how willing they are to stay stuck in limbo, waiting for the other person. But once a person decides that they can’t stay stuck in this dynamic, the way forward is to pull their focus off of the other person who is unclear or uncertain or not making a choice and instead to become clear themselves. To become certain themselves. And to make a choice themselves.
So that you can understand this more clearly, I’ll give you an example. Emily is in a primary partnership relationship with Ronnie. They have been having big relationship problems. The conflicts they keep getting into indicate that there are some critical incompatibilities between them. So much so that neither of them know if the relationship should continue. Ronnie says he wants one thing, but his actions reflect the complete opposite. Emily keeps waiting on Ronnie to make a decision about what he really wants in a relationship and in his life. She needs to know because without that information, she feels she can’t decide with him what to do about their relationship. However, Ronnie can never give her a straight answer. And everything he says he is doing to “figure it out” isn’t working.
Emily realizes that she is super confused and has no sense of clarity. But she sees that she is perpetually waiting for Ronnie to become clear, which quite frankly, could be a waiting game that lasts indefinitely. So, she decides to commit to getting clear herself and becoming certain herself. Even though this is painful and frightening and very lonely, she decides it is better than being stuck on a hook and drowning in a sea of uncertainty. So, she does the work to become clear and certain and to make decisions according to that clarity and certainty she finds within herself. She works to integrate every split she feels within herself relative to Ronnie. She meditates deeply on questions she asks herself. She has conversations with people in her life that she knows will help her to become clearer. She reads material on relationships. She does processes to resolve the traumas that are linked to Ronnie’s behaviors and the way she feels in the relationship.
By doing this work, she becomes certain that while she does not want to end the relationship yet, she can no longer be ok living with Ronnie. She becomes clear that living together with distrust for what he says and with the negativity she feels every time she is around him now is making it so she doesn’t even want to be home. And her home being a tense place where she can find no relief is making her feel terrible on a physical and emotional level every day. So, she makes the decision from that place of certainty, to keep trying in the relationship as long as Ronnie will see a relationship therapist with her, but to move in with a friend instead of stay living with him.
Whenever you are stuck in limbo or stuck in uncertainty because someone else is uncertain, consider that the way to take your power back is to become certain yourself. This might mean making difficult decisions and taking difficult actions. But you never know… the process of getting certain might just cause you to find a different and better approach to the person who is uncertain, making it easier to get on the same page.