Mini-Me in a Mini-Marriage

Tonja Weimer

With a Masters in Human Development, Tonja is an columnist, coach, speaker and author. Her latest book 'Thriving After Divorce', offers insight on how to become a better person and getting through after a break up.

Are you in an exclusive relationship with someone…and you aren’t entirely sure you want to be with her? As you continue in this relationship, do you find that you’re acting smaller as a person?  Do you often feel like your life is shrinking?  This affliction is one I call: Mini-Me in a Mini-Marriage.

Wonderful West Wittering - June 2011 - Happy Couple

A mini-marriage happens when you get intimately involved and exclusive with someone before you are ready to be fully committed to her.  A mini-marriage can even occur after one or two dates…especially if there is strong chemistry.  People fall into this situation when they haven’t thought it through.  Suddenly, they’re a couple, and they don’t know how it happened.
You may think that you are simply exploring the relationship when you are in this mini arrangement, but instead, you have compromised an important part of yourself.  You are semi-committed—which is the same as no commitment at all—while at the same time, you have taken yourself out of the dating stream.
If you don’t stop and look at what you’ve gotten into, you and your “partner” can just drift along for years without knowing what is going to happen next.  The unfortunate part is that you slipped unconsciously into the position of being together, but not really together. 
The greater loss is that in a mini-marriage, it is difficult for you to soar.  You’re sort of hanging out, or hanging on, waiting for something to happen, but you’re not sure what.  And somehow, imperceptibly, your life has gotten tiny.  The world doesn’t quite see you as a couple and it doesn’t see you as a single.  Your friends have shifted their perception of you and you don’t get out with them as much as you used to.  And no one introduces you to other singles any more.  You’re unattached, you’re unavailable, and sometimes, you feel like you are barely visible.  You have become a mini-me.
In the mini-marriage, it often happens that one of the two people put other relationships in their life before the needs of their partner.  Without some kind of commitment, it’s hard to set boundaries around these issues.  If you are the “abandoned” one, you probably feel minimized.
What can you do?
•    Take a deep breath and get quiet.  What are your dreams for yourself, your goals for your life, and your life’s main purpose?  Get back to this.  Remember that you are special and you deserve what you want and need.  Get your strength built up and start visualizing what you want your life to look like.  You need to get ready for the defining conversation that you are going to have with your partner about where this relationship is going.
•    Ask yourself some of the following questions: 

1.    What are your requirements for the relationship you want to have in your life? 
2.    Do you want to be with someone you love, who will give you a commitment?  Or are you choosing this person as a second or third choice while you look for the “right one?” 
3.    If you are in a mini-marriage and not telling her the truth, which is that you are looking for someone else, do you feel okay with yourself?  Would you want someone to treat you this way?  And if someone is treating YOU this way, why are you letting her? 
•    Develop your courage to examine why you are in this place.  If you want a commitment from her but she is not willing to give it to you, why do you accept this?  What is the work you need to do that will help you realize you are worthy of much more?  You don’t have to settle for anything less than wonderful.
•    Gather your support group around you. 
Tell them you need their friendship and understanding now.  When you do this, you will be ready to have the hard conversation.  Pick a time when there will be no interruptions or distractions.  Ask your partner what she wants.  Listen carefully.  Be honest with yourself and see if it is in alignment with what you want.  If you don’t want to be committed, or if you are not the one for her… it’s time to be brave and move on. 
If this mini-marriage isn’t working for you, just know that there’s a whole world of people for you to meet.  But be aware: you can’t slip into an intimate role with your next date without the potential of exclusivity entering your arrangement.  And then, you’ll be right back to being a—Mini-Me in a Mini-Marriage.

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