How to Avoid Getting Clooney-ed
You know the drill. In fact, we're willing to bet you or your best friend have been through it: you’re in a relationship with an amazing, gorgeous, smart, funny, financially secure, fun traveller – a dream guy. You laugh together and rarely fight. You even like his mother (sure, you only met her that one time... well, talked to her on the phone... well, her voice sounded nice when you picked up his phone by accident). Now, you’re ready for the next step. But before you start dropping hints about marriage and kids and the summer home you’d like to eventually own together in the Greek islands, you’ve already got a dilemma on your hands. He’s told you from the early days of your relationship that he’s just “not into that stuff, not a commitment kinda guy.” Now what?
We saw it happen to Stacy Keibler when she started dating the inimitable George Clooney. As their budding romance blossomed, we wanted to shout out to her - Didn’t you see what happened to Elisabetta Canalis before you? And Renee Zellweger and the other string of beautiful, financially independent, lovely women that George Clooney dated before you? They wanted children, a marriage, a home, stability – some form of commitment – but he didn’t. He was clear about it from the start. Meanwhile, she thought she wanted something temporary and fun, then changed her mind. Or maybe she hoped he would change his during their romantic trips to Europe, the Caribbean, and film sets around the world. And yet, the inevitable happens – they break up.
Yes, it’s impossible to know what happens between two people who are in a relationship, but having a talk early on about big issues is very important to avoid a painful parting or big fights down the line. If you know from day one that the man you are with does not want to have children, but you definitely want them in the future, it’s better to know sooner rather than later, right?
This is the approach Elena Jakovich took when she moved to Dubai as a flight attendant in 2005 from Bosnia. She met Steven on her first month in the city, at a party in an art gallery at DIFC, and soon they were meeting up every other day and talking frequently. Two months into their whirlwind romance, she asked him what his relationship goals were, and was disappointed when he told her that he was not interested in marriage. He was falling for her and could see her in his future, but marriage was out of the question as his parents had married and divorced one another twice – too much drama for Steven.
“I had a choice at this point, I could walk away, or I could stay with this incredible person and show him that a good relationship can lead to a good marriage,” said Elena.
Two years into the relationship, Steven started acting distant and saying he felt pressure, even though Elena was careful not to mention the M word around him. Soon enough, they drifted apart.
Years after the break-up, Elena was up front about what she wanted from a relationship when she met Daniel. She enjoyed spending time with him and they shared a silly sense of humour, so a couple of months into their relationship, she asked him about his goals before getting in too deep. Daniel was on the same page about a lot of important factors for Elena – faith, a small family, a desire to stay in Dubai long-term, marriage to the right partner – so it gave their relationship a chance to deepen and they are now engaged.
“Talking about big issues is crucial, so neither of you wastes time,” said Elena. “It also helps you realize what’s important to you in your partner.”
This is easier said than done for many women, relationship experts admit. It can feel awkward or ‘too soon’ to talk about serious topics in the early days of a relationship, but it’s better to bring deal-breakers to the light sooner rather than later.
Want to avoid getting Clooney-ed?
Here are VIVA’s top tips based on advice from relationship experts!
What are you looking for in a relationship? You don’t have to talk about your goals and hopes right after ordering your main course during your first date. After you’ve gotten to know one another and established that you enjoy each other’s company – and before it gets serious – it’s in your best interest to talk about your goals, according to relationship coach Marni Battista, www.datingwithdignity.com. Maybe he’s recently broken up with someone and is not ready to get into another relationship, or maybe he’s focused on work and finances before settling down – these are all things he can share with you, so you can decide if you want to move forward. If he says he is interested in marriage and looking to commit to the right partner, it’s a good base.
Money, money, money. It can be awkward to talk finances before things get serious, but this is a key topic that couples often tackle too late. Does he want you to maintain financial independence and chip in on the rent – and does that suit you? Does he prefer that you not work anymore – does that suit you? Is he a spender or a saver? Figuring out your opinion on money will make it easier to deal with big money issues in the future.
Baby talk. Again, before getting in too deep, it’s good to have an idea of how many little ones you would both like in the future. Does he want a soccer team and you only want to go through pregnancy and labour once? This is a key issue that people often don’t budge on. It’s a good idea to know how big you would like your family to be, so your interests for the future are aligned.
You have to be able to communicate well with a partner and talk about awkward or difficult issues – early on and later as a relationship matures. To avoid getting stuck in Clooney’s web, you must pay attention to his actions. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
1. He’s said from day one that he’s not interested in marriage or children. Relationship expert Evan Marc Katz says on his blog www.evanmarckatz.com that if you do want these things in a relationship, then don’t stick around in the hopes that he’ll change his mind.
2. He hasn’t introduced you to family or friends after some time together. He’ll have great excuses (I want you all to myself, that’s all babe! But this weekend I’m busy.)
3. He only calls when he wants to see you – sometimes days or weeks pass, or maybe he never calls you during the weekend, but just meets up casually during the week.
4. You’ve been together for years, but he still doesn’t want to take it to the next step.
5. He can be charming and romantic, but will avoid talking about or planning a future.