Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dear Karen,

When a man shows you time and time again from his actions that he loves you but still says he isn’t ready to commit to living with you or marrying you, how long should you wait for him to commit? ~ Terry, CA

Dear Terry,

Well, this question should have quite a few women taking notice!  Right off the bat let me say this: there is no set amount of time you “should” wait. The timeframe is completely personal. However, here are the criteria that I recommend women follow in order to find the answer that is right for them.


I believe that each relationship we attract – yes, attract – brings us two gifts: the person who can be a perfect teacher for us and what we need to learn, and the most profound vehicle for learning what is next for us. If you adopt this perspective, one of the questions you might ask yourself is: “What lessons can this man and this relationship teach me at this time?”

If you are on a path to becoming your highest and best self as a woman, which is what I believe we are all doing (consciously or not), then exploring how a current relationship is serving you on your journey could be extremely helpful. For example, if one of the issues that gets in the way of you being your best is asking for, or even being aware of, what you need, then maybe the relationship can teach you to be clear about what you need and how to ask for it.

One caution: Be careful that you don’t end a relationship because you want or need a man to provide something you really should be getting elsewhere (remembering that you cannot get all your needs met by one person). 

Really looking at a relationship’s potential for moving into commitment might reveal that a man is up for the job at hand, or, it might show that he is not capable or willing to be committed.  There are lots of things you can look at in his life, outside of your relationship, to determine if he’s commitment material.  You may also discover that the man you didn’t think was “ready” actually might be but has had the feeling that YOU weren’t really interested in moving in that direction.  In any case, if you have stretched yourself and risked going for what you want and need, you will learn a lot about yourself – and your actions will make you stronger and bring you closer to your best self.


If you know that a man is never going to be the one you want and need, then, truly, any amount of time you spend together will be counter-productive. Let me explain: If you know he’s not “the one,” then your heart will be closed off in some way. You won’t be able to accept and love him unconditionally. What part of you do you think is getting stronger in this situation? Right! The part that doesn’t know how to be successful at creating and sustaining a fulfilling and committed relationship! Don’t do that to yourself!

If you stay, you must know you can love and accept a man unconditionally while you are with him. This is what allows you to open yourself fully and to trust, to be intimate and vulnerable. This is the only way you will see where a relationship can ultimately go. 

You have to decide how much time you’re willing to invest in the relationship.  Is the clock ticking loudly? Are you already feeling as if you’re at the end of your rope? Did you promise yourself you’d be at a certain point by a certain date? You get the idea. Anyway, set a date, keep it to yourself, and then forget it. That way, you’re focusing on being in the relationship, not out of it.


The other issue I want to cover is the principle of “like attracts like.” With that in mind, you may want to ask yourself if YOU are ready to be in a committed relationship. If the man you attracted is truly not available, ask yourself if you are. This is a huge area to explore, and it is critical to get to the truth. If you think it’s all about him, and you move on to another relationship, you might find yourself in the exact same scenario, but with a new man. 


The most important element in being “ready” is knowing, accepting and loving yourself exactly as you are. This does not mean that you are attached defiantly to aspects of yourself that don’t work; it means you accept who you are, and, from that place, choose to work on whatever really doesn’t support the life you want to live. How you view yourself changes what types of men you attract.


If you have undertaken all this work, know that a resistance to commitment is really his issue (not yours), and know that you must end the relationship, do it sooner, rather than later. Remember, you are doing more harm than good when you stay too long. Please do not play games or issue ultimatums. Focus on the time limit you set for the relationship early on, evaluate the relationship potential, and, if you know he is just not capable of commitment, tell him that you are moving on. How you do this is entirely up to you; I always advocate for making a positive difference in the “war between the sexes.” If at all possible, please “sprinkle healing magic” on a man with whom you’ve been in relationship, no matter how long you’ve known him.


 1. Each timeframe is personal, so set one that works for you. 

2. Consider your own ability to commit, and recognize when your own issues are limiting the potential for commitment.

3. Know, love and accept yourself exactly as you are.

4. Be sure your expectations of a man are fair and realistic, taking into account who he is, as well as the differences between how men and women relate. 

5. Determine if you have more to learn from a man and a relationship.

6. Value what you are learning.

7. Know if he is who you want and need

8. Decide whether or not you are truly able to love and accept him unconditionally.

9. If you leave a relationship, “sprinkle healing magic” on the way out.

10. Trust you will end up with the man meant for you.


 All men and relationships are “teachers” and they appear when we are most ready for them. Our mission as women is to learn the lessons that allow us to blossom into our very best selves – the women we are deep in our hearts. Along the way, you will find the man with whom you are meant to be. Trust that.