Have you heard this phrase before: slide versus decide? I became familiar with the concept a couple years ago, and variations of the word “intentional” came to mind. If you slide into something, you are letting it happen without much thought or deliberate consideration. But if you decide something, analysis is a requisite component of the process, even if it’s a quick, mental pro-con assessment.
How many times you engage in intentional behavior each day? It might be surprising just how little if you stop and think about it. So much of our actions are fueled by habit, routine, and muscle memory that it can be hard to commit to intentional behavior.
But what about when it comes important decisions in your relationship? Should sliding be acceptable, or is deciding preferable?
When Logan and I first started dating, I told him that I am careful whom I get into a relationship with. I’ve never been someone who dates to avoid being alone. I’m quite comfortable being single and thoroughly enjoy “me” time. So, if I’m going to be in a relationship with someone, I want to feel confident that spending time with this person is going to add value to my life.
When I shared my stance on relationships with Logan, he appreciated and respected my perspective. As such, he didn’t bring up labeling our relationship…ever.
About six weeks after we started dating, I raised the issue with him. I explained the concept of “slide versus decide” to him and said that I didn’t want us to slide into a relationship. I wanted us to make an intentional choice based on a mutual desire to commit to each other and move our relationship forward. I felt that this initial decision – to be in a relationship – would set an important precedent for future decisions in our relationship.
I went on to tell him that I had thought about our interactions and that I knew enough about him and how we worked together as a unit to make the decision that I wanted to be in a relationship with him. Then I asked him if he knew enough about me to make a decision as well. We both agreed that we did and decided to commit to a monogamous relationship.
Intentionality should drive every major decision in a relationship, starting with that first decision to be in a relationship.
Labeling our relationship as “official” may sound silly or juvenile to some, but I saw it as the opposite: a mature, intentional choice based on my experiences with him. I wasn’t spending time with Logan merely because it was convenient, because he was my best option, or because I didn’t like the feeling of being alone. I was spending time with him because I enjoyed it.
At six weeks in, I liked who I was around him – curious, open, friendly, flirty, cheerful, and motivated, to name a few. I knew that we had some of the same values, interests, and perspectives. Of course there was a lot that I didn’t know about him, and still is, but that was enough for me to make the decision that he was someone whom I wanted to continue to get to know within the boundaries of a committed relationship.
Sliding, on the other hand, can be dangerous. I’ve heard many stories of couples who make decisions based on external factors that exclude intentionality, such as moving in together because someone’s lease is up.
Or they fall prey to what is called the “inertia effect.” Moving in together, getting engaged, and even getting married are huge steps which should be undertaken only with intentionality but not uncommonly happen somewhat lackadaisically. A couple is coasting along in their relationship and then one person decides that it’s time for the next step and then the other person agrees outright or simply doesn’t object. Boom. Instant roommates. Ring on the finger. Marriage certificate signed.
It may sound too simplistic, but is it? After all, it’s easy to see how sliding can happen. Because when it comes to matters of the heart, nothing is straightforward, clear cut, or black and white, and it’s easy to justify sliding into the next step.
But what “deciding” does is forces you to be honest about how you feel. It forces you to consider the pros and cons, and reflect on aspects of your relationship that might call into question whether or not it should move forward. And that’s scary.
Sliding is like saying “I’ll think about that later.”
But can you really afford to think about it later? Shouldn’t you be spending every day with a person with whom you consciously desire to move your relationship forward with intention? Shouldn’t you be willing to ask yourself the hard questions about your relationship? If you can’t, then you’re letting fear and insecurity into the driver’s seat of your relationship. And that’s a ride likely to end in a crash.
So, how do you make important decisions in your relationship? Are you prone to sliding or deciding? And how do you think this manner of making decisions affects your relationship?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or check back in later after discussing this concept with your partner or friends.