Rich here. Diana and I met when we both wrote for an online website, the BYU 100 Hour Board. So it shouldn’t be shocking that, yeah, Diana is an excellent writer and I really liked everything she had to say. Diana actually got in touch with us as part of a class assignment. What was really great is that she was willing to write a post talking about her experience using the idea of Companionship Inventory in her dating relationship. Obviously every relationship in marriage, in dating, in everything, is improved by good communication. But Diana and Tygan point out some excellent, practical ways that companionship inventory has helped them. It’s a great read!
What Companionship Inventory Looks Like For Us
Companionship inventory when dating is a little different than when married: for starters, you don’t know each other as well, and more importantly, you both have to accept that dating relationships can be rather tenuous. During our first inventory we sat down and asked each other what we thought the role of a boyfriend/girlfriend should be, our philosophies on dating and comfort levels for PDA, our hope to still get some homework done…. We even wrote down a list of things we hoped the relationship would be like. (Tygan: This “contract” that we wrote included things like “We are allowed to make mistakes,” “A date shall occur at least once a week,” and “We will have Nerf battles, play with chalk, and do childish things (in a totally responsible and mature manner).”) Now, during inventory we take turns saying things that we appreciate the other doing that week and things that we love about each other. We then reflect on our list and talk about how we’re doing and if we should change anything on our list. Finally, we ask each other what personal goals the other would like to work on and how we can help. Following are some specific things that inventory helps us out with, showing that it’s not just for marriage!
1. Sets expectations for physical intimacy.
A common worry I hear from dating couples around me at BYU is how to know how the other person feels about kissing, curfews, and all that fun stuff. I’ve found it’s easiest to determine what is “too far” for each person before things get heated. You should both be on the same page to avoid rejection or letting yourself be used.
2. Helps establish pace of relationship.
Inventory gives us a good chance to evaluate whether we’re going too fast or if one person feels the relationship isn’t progressing. As a cautious person, I really want to go slow with the relationship, and Tygan respects that. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable with everything when I know he understands that, and it makes Tygan feel more sure of the steps he’s taking when he knows where my feelings are at too.
3. Avoids stagnancy.
At the same time, weekly inventory helps slow-pokes like me evaluate whether we’re helping the relationship grow. For me, the short-term purposes of dating are to get to know someone better and have fun together—and the long-term purpose is to decide if you want to do that with this person forever! Having a regular time to really think about where this relationship is headed helps you to avoid getting in a rut and finding yourself weeks, months, or years later wondering if anything has changed.
4. Gets you in the habit of discussing hard things.
Hard things, or even just awkward things, will not go away if Tygan and I get engaged or married; I expect they will only increase in importance. I found that the very beginning of a relationship is actually a great time to say “Hey, this is all new, and I know it’s going to be weird, but I want to establish some openness and let us talk about things that are difficult or embarrassing so we can start off on the right foot.” From what I’ve seen, those first awkward moments are a much better time to set a pattern of communication than later on in the relationship. If there’s something big bothering you after you’ve been dating for a while, it can be harder to bring that up and have a straightforward discussion if you haven’t set up that kind of foundation early on.
5. Helps you become better friends.
One of my favorite parts of inventory is when we ask each other what our personal goals are. It helps me to retain my sense of independence when I discuss my own projects or improvements, and it helps me to understand Tygan’s dreams and goals when he tells me his. This practice has really opened our eyes as to what the other person would be like in a long-term situation. Additionally, having a consistent time to come up with personal things to work on helps me to try new things and feel like we’re helping each other to become better people without forcing change. Tygan: Additionally, this gives us a chance to bring up things we’re uncomfortable talking about at other times. If I notice something I think we should talk about but don’t really want to bring it up, I can wait until our companionship inventory. Then, if the tempering effect of time hasn’t convinced me it’s a non-issue, I have an easier time discussing it.