- 5 Ways to Tell if a Relationship Will Last
- Let Me Count The Ways: 5 Reasons Commitment is Good For Your Relationship
- 5 Easy Ways to Communicate Your Commitment to Your Relationship
- 5 Ways You Can Communicate Your Commitment to Your Spouse or Long-Term Partner
- 10 Ways to Say
- Pay Attention
- Thoughtful Gestures
- Go Your Way
- Give Space
- Lend a Helping Hand
- Say ‘Thank You’
- Be Positive
- Make Your Relationship a Priority
5 Ways to Tell if a Relationship Will Last
It’s safe to say that everyone who enters into a relationship hopes that it will last. Although some people enjoy being able to explore options with multiple partners, the idea of a “relationship” is typically connected to a sense of continuity.
You can probably remember some times in your life when you preferred to maintain your independence, but once you decided to commit to another person, you switched gears to develop more lasting bonds.
The question becomes, then, once you’ve chosen this person to commit to, how sure are you that your relationship will actually succeed over the long haul?
According to a new study by University of Alberta (Canada)’s Matthew Johnson and colleagues (2019), the idea that you’re in a relationship that can last itself can influence the quality and outcome of that relationship.
“Relationship confidence,” as the authors define it, “is the belief that one’s relationship will be successful into the future and that the couple has the requisite skills to achieve lasting love” (p. 1).
In other words, when you believe that you can successfully navigate your relationship, despite what might come your way, this can generate its own momentum that will allow this belief to become fulfilled.
Relationship confidence, then, is a specific version of self-efficacy, or the belief that you can be successful in accomplishing a particular task. A strong sense of relationship confidence can help you approach the problems that, perhaps inevitably, will come up between you and your partner.
As much as you may be in love with your partner, there will be times when you disagree whether about relatively small issues (such as how much to spend on a new living room rug) or ones that have deeper implications (such as whether to have children). The sense that you can make things work out will guide you partway through this conflict. On top of that, as Johnson et al.
point out, the outcome will be determined by whether you think you have the skills to help you get to that point.
The answer to the eternal question of whether lasting love is possible may be shifting, according to research cited by the authors, among Millennials, who are exposed to a more general current climate of pessimism about committed relationships.
However, just as with other stereotypes about Millennials, the authors wonder whether or not this is true. Perhaps current young adults actually are no different from any other generation, believing that they will themselves find partners to whom they can become committed in their own lives.
Such a more hopeful perspective could, according to the idea of relationship confidence, vary from person to person and couple to couple rather than being tied to generational influences.
By studying the trajectories of committed relationships in people who have begun to embark on a long-term connection with a partner, the Canadian-led author team hypothesized that they could determine the impact of this key psychological quality on actual outcomes over time in current young adults.
In addition to the quality of relationship confidence, Johnson and his collaborators believe that the ability to commit to a partner and maintain that commitment will be influenced by the quality of an individual’s parental relationship. Think about your own parents.
Did they actually get married before or while you were growing up? Once married, did they divorce? Whether married or not, how much conflict did you witness between them? Thus, if your parents had a troubled relationship, you may feel your own relationship is doomed as well.
Various background factors can also influence relationship outcome including, as the authors propose, whether you’ve already started to make the commitment to your partner by deciding to live together.
People who are already in a cohabiting relationship have a “more extensive relationship biography”… that “may bear testament to the couple’s ability to navigate challenges in their partnership.” Whether your partner had a child with a previous partner, furthermore, can also influence the evolution of your relationship.
In general, when couples have a child, their relationship becomes more complicated, even if both truly wanted to become parents. When the child in the home was the product of a previous relationship, “the couple must also negotiate child rearing with the other parent,” the authors note (p. 2).
Finally, the role of gender must also be taken into account when assessing the impact of relationship confidence on outcomes.
Previous research cited by the authors shows differing relationship trajectories for newlywed heterosexual couples, with husbands exhibiting a U-shaped curve over time where they were more confident, became less so, and then gained back their confidence over time.
Wives, by contrast, were initially more confident but then lost that sense of self-efficacy. Adding to these demographic factors, an individual’s attachment style may also impact relationship confidence, and hence quality, over time. People high in anxious attachment worry that their partners don’t love them, and those high in avoidant attachment prefer not to get too close to a partner.
To test the combination of background factors with relationship confidence, the authors conducted a follow-up study in which they collected data from 1,294 young adults (ages 18 to 34) 11 times over a 4-year period.
All participants had been in nonmarital heterosexual relationships for at least 2 months prior to the beginning of the study.
In addition to measuring relationship confidence, the authors also asked participants to rate the quality of their interactions with their partner at the time of the assessment.
This allowed the research team to follow relationship evolution in real time at the level of how well the partners reported actually getting along. Additionally, the authors tracked relationship history and whether the partners broke up, remained together, or got married in that 11 months.
You can test yourself with the 5 questions the authors used to measure relationship confidence. Use a 1 to 7 scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree regarding your current relationship or, if you're not in one, the last one that you considered serious:
- I feel good about our prospects to make this relationship work for a lifetime.
- I am very confident when I think of our future together.
- I believe we can handle whatever conflicts will arise in the future.
- We have the skills a couple needs to make a marriage last.
- We can handle anything that comes our way.
The two subscales of this measure were global confidence (items 1 and 2) and skill-focused confidence (items 3-5). On average, the couples in this study seemed reasonably confident their relationships would last, with an average of 5.5 7; a sizable percent (13-22%) scored at the top of the scale.
However, there was room for variation, and the data presented by the study authors at the time of initial testing suggest that an average of 4 or lower means that you are scoring well below that study average. Across the time period of the study, however, the average score went up considerably, reaching slightly over 6 by the time nearly a year had gone by.
Interestingly, although relationship confidence was strongly correlated with relationship satisfaction across the study as a whole, the scores when assessed over time within individuals revealed that variations in confidence were only moderately related to variations in satisfaction.
Despite the fact that the two constructs are linked, then, they are not tapping into identical components of long-term relationships.
The generally high levels of confidence within the sample led Johnson et al. to conclude that, contrary to the idea that Millennials have a jaded view of relationships, those in the present study showed high confidence that theirs would work last.
Indeed, although about 1/3 of the sample ended their relationship across the study period, their relationship confidence remained high. Of course, as the authors note, those who are pessimistic about relationships stay away from commitment altogether, leading to the sample showing self-selection bias.
Even so, the developmental process may play out, as the authors note, such that “confidence in the idea of a long-term union may be low until one enters a committed relationship where the story becomes quite different when thinking about one’s actual partner” (p. 8).
In other words, if you're high in relationship confidence, attitudes toward commitment won't penetrate your own personal optimism.
Looking now at those background factors, and how they could affect your relationship confidence, it appeared that men were more ly to become more confident over time, while the opposite occurred for women but these trajectories were not studied at the level of couples, so the men involved were not in relationships with the women.
People with lower levels of avoidant attachment, as predicted, had higher relationship confidence, as did those in longer-term relationships who reported positive interactions with their partner. For women, having a partner with a child from a previous relationship predicted lower initial confidence and larger decreases over time.
Now that you understand the dimensions of relationship confidence, you can use those 5 items to assess your own sense of self-efficacy about whether you can stick it out over the long term with your partner. Give the same scale to your partner, and use the opportunity to evaluate where you differ both in level of confidence and in global vs. skill-based relationship self-efficacy.
To sum up, having confidence your relationship can last may help promote the outcome of being in a relationship that you find personally fulfilling. Knowing where to pinpoint your sense of strengths and weaknesses may provide the first step toward building that confidence and, ultimately, your ability to derive satisfaction over the long term.
image: Josep Suria/Shutterstock
Let Me Count The Ways: 5 Reasons Commitment is Good For Your Relationship
Commitment, the big “C-word” in relationships, is defined as feeling connected to your partner, wanting your relationship to succeed, and thinking about your long-term future together.1 Although there are downsides to commitment (see here for an example), commitment is associated with lots of good outcomes, including:2
1. Staying Together
If you want your relationship to stay together, there’s nothing commitment to do the trick.
Commitment is associated with having longer and more stable relationships, and more committed people are less ly to break up with their partners.
3 The research on this is very clear: building commitment in your relationship enhances your chances of staying with your partner for the long haul. (Read more about this research here.)
2. Avoiding Temptation and Remaining Faithful
Tempting alternative partners may be all around you, but committed people tend to downplay the attractiveness of others. When you’re single, that woman in your chemistry class or guy working at the coffee shop may be pretty attractive to you.
But when you’re in a committed relationship, they don’t look quite as good.4 And if you’re less attracted to alternatives, you’re less ly to want to get it on (or get off) with them. Committed people have lower rates of infidelity than those in less committed relationships.
5 (Read more about this research here.)
3. Resolving Conflict
Let’s face it…even couples in the best relationships argue from time to time. Commitment might not keep you from having the occasional disagreement, but committed couples “fight better.” Rather than acting destructively when arguing (e.g., yelling at a partner, storming the room, etc.
), people committed to their relationships resolve conflict constructively by keeping the relationship’s overall health in mind.
6 You might be annoyed that he left the toilet seat up again or that she forgot to pick you up from work today, but committed couples know that it’s not worth escalating this into an all-out relationship war that might ultimately threaten the future of the relationship. (Read more about this research here.)
4. Sight, But Not Mind
As much as you might want to spend every minute of your life with your partner, couples are sometimes separated for a few days (e.g., a business trip or holiday break at school) or many months (e.g., a military deployment or long-distance relationship).
Partners who are committed to each other miss each other more when they are separated.7 Now, that might not sound a good thing, but in fact, missing your partner is beneficial for your relationship. Imagine people didn’t miss their partners while they were away.
What would that say about their relationships? It’s probably not good news. We also know that individuals who miss their partners have better communication with their partners during a geographic separation and are less ly to cheat on them8 (see Point #2 above).
Basically, missing a partner helps motivate you to keep that relationship going, even when you are geographically separated.
5. Better Sex
If the reasons above aren’t enough, this one clinches the deal. Committed couples have better sex.
For example, young adults in committed relationships report higher sexual enjoyment,9 possibly because partners who are in it for the long-haul are motivated to learn how to please each other, have lowered inhibitions because they know each other well, and have better (sexual) communication.
In addition, research on hook-ups shows that women are more ly to have orgasms in long-term relationships compared to hook-ups with new partners (read more about this research here).10 So if you can’t get no satisfaction, turning up the commitment might be just what the doctor ordered.
There you have it. Don’t be afraid of a little commitment in your relationship if you’re into your partner. As you can see, the upsides are pretty good!
Interested in learning more about relationships? Click here for other topics on Science of Relationships. us on or follow us on to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed. Learn more about our book and download it here.
1Arriaga, X. B., & Agnew, C. R. (2001). Being committed: Affective, cognitive, and conative components of relationship commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1190-1203.
2Rusbult, C. E., Drigotas, S. M., & Verette, J. (1994). The investment model: An interdependence analysis of commitment processes and relationship maintenance phenomena. In D. J. Canary & L. Stafford (Eds.) Communication and relational maintenance (pp. 115-139). San Diego: Academic Press.
3Le, B., Dove, N. L., Agnew, C. R., Korn, M. S., & Mutso, A. A. (2010). Predicting non-marital romantic relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis. Personal Relationships, 17, 377-390.
4Johnson, D. J., & Rusbult, C. E. (1989). Resisting temptation: Devaluation of alternative partners as a means of maintaining commitment in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 967-980.
5Drigotas, S. M., Safstrom, C. A., & Gentilia, T. (1999). An investment model prediction of dating infidelity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 509-524.
6Rusbult, C. E., Yovetich, N. A., & Verette, J. (1996). An interdependence analysis of accommodation processes. In G. J. O. Fletcher & J. Fitness (Eds.), Knowledge structures in close relationships: A social psychological approach (pp. 63-90). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
7Le, B., Loving, T. J., Lewandowski, G. W. Jr., Feinberg, E. G., Johnson, K. C., Fiorentino, R., & Ing, J. (2008). Missing a romantic partner: A prototype analysis. Personal Relationships, 15, 511-532.
8Le, B., Korn, M. S., Crockett, E. E., & Loving, T. J. (2011). Missing you maintains us: Missing a romantic partner, commitment, relationship maintenance, and physical infidelity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 653-667.
9Galinsky, A. M., & Sonenstein, F. L. (2013). Relationship commitment, perceived equity, and sexual enjoyment among young adults in the United States. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(1), 93-104.
10Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2012). Accounting for women’s orgasm and sexual enjoyment in college hookups and relationships. American Sociological Review, 77, 435-462.
Dr. Benjamin Le – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Le’s research focuses on commitment, including the factors associated with commitment and its role in promoting maintenance. He has published on the topics of breakup, geographic separation, infidelity, social networks, cognition, and need fulfillment and emotions in relationships.
image source: kimberlymoore.wordpress.com
5 Easy Ways to Communicate Your Commitment to Your Relationship
Real, long-term relationships are built on a lot more than chemistry and compatibility. Commitment is the essential ingredient that keeps it all together.
Commitment serves as assurance – a pledge, a promise, a guarantee – of that personal agreement you made with the one you love. It’s not just about keeping your obligation during fair-weather days. No. Commitment comes much more into play when storms blow in. It shows in your resolve to honor your responsibility, sticking with each other through thick and thin.
For those very reasons, it’s so important to assure your partner of your commitment each and every day. In order to do that, you will have to communicate it with sincerity. But how?
5 Ways You Can Communicate Your Commitment to Your Spouse or Long-Term Partner
Communication includes verbal and nonverbal expressions. While saying something with words is important, showing it with corresponding actions lends it more credibility.
Hence, consider employing these five simple yet tangible ways to communicate your commitment to your mate.
1. Show love and loyalty
Love involves telling your partner “I love you” and includes romantic gestures and sexual expressions of desire. But you should also have a deep desire to demonstrate your commitment to your partner’s welfare and fulfillment.
You spouse or partner should be the one that you want to spend your time with. Your desire for their company should be evident.
You can show your love and loyalty by always talking positively about your marriage, by keeping contact with your partner while you’re away, by using words “we,” “my wife and I,” or “my husband and I” when speaking, and by keeping pictures of your mate around at work. Those simple actions tell the world that you are truly committed.
2. Express respect and appreciation
Only when you feel respect and appreciation for your partner can you genuinely express it. Kind communication – praise and commendation – will help you convey your gratitude for your mate. Being supportive of their feelings and encouraging them will help them feel they can always turn to you for advice and comfort.
Take time to truly listen to your mate. Don’t shy away from sharing your own emotions as well. Be gentle, use gracious words, and really try to understand your partner on a deeper level. Expressing your personal interest in them will show the depth of your commitment.
3. Convey honesty and trust
Commitment in a relationship is impossible without trust. Hence, creating and conveying trust calls for complete honesty. Only when you commit to being honest can your partner have an accurate picture of who you truly are.
Be honest about your past and truthful about your vision of your future. Share your feelings, share your thoughts, and share your very presence with your mate. Do everything in your power to not let lies or half-truths destroy the trust and commitment between you.
4. Work as a team and compromise
Teamwork shows commitment since it often calls on your willingness to compromise. That means you are as concerned for your mate’s needs as you are your own. You must stop being single at heart and shift your thinking from “mine” to “ours,” from “me” to “we.”
Show that you value your partner and be willing to make concessions. You don't have to compromise your individual moral values and standards negatively. Just be open to hearing your mate’s views, wishes, and dreams and don’t impose yourself on them. Keep your individuality, but work together.
5. Disagree agreeably
Showing commitment to your partner doesn’t mean you’ll never fight or disagree. You’re two individuals. Conflict is bound to happen. It’s when you threaten to simply throw everything down and leave that you undermine the commitment of your relationship.
Thus, when conflict arises, be sensible. Don’t yell or hurl accusations at your partner that you’ll later regret. Instead, listen to your mate with curiosity and a desire to understand. If all else fails, agree to respectfully disagree.
Remaining sensible and supportive is the best way to express commitment during hard times.
Ask yourself how hard it really would be to implement these suggestions and communicate your commitment. If you truly love your mate, these five points should pretty much feel logical and natural steps. The choice is yours to take them.
10 Ways to Say
Couples express love through a variety of everyday actions—a touch, a gesture of kindness or generosity, a thoughtful act. We tell one another, “Be careful,” or “Drive safe.” We learn just how they their coffee or tea. In these ways, we’re saying “I care about you” through actions rather than words.
Sometimes we forget that love comes in many forms and people may have different ways of delivering the same message. I am a verbal person. I using words to express myself. However, my significant other is not.
He is more “action oriented” when it comes to expressing his feelings.
Figuring out which method your partner uses to express him/herself is helpful, but there are many small ways we show our love for each other without actually saying “I love you.”
Below are ten common ways to express your love, even when you aren’t actually saying the words:
One way we show love is to give our partner our uninterrupted, undivided attention. Not every second of every day, but when it counts. Show up and really listen. This is something I noticed about my guy when we first met. He really paid attention to what I was saying.
How did I know? Because he’d bring up something I said or mentioned I enjoyed doing in conversation weeks later. To this day, he is the best listener I know—even when I don’t know he’s listening. His actions prove that he hears me and take into account the things I say, be it big or small.
Listening shows you value the person as well as what they say.
Another way we show we care for or love someone without using words is through kind or thoughtful gestures. This can be as simple as opening a door for your partner or bringing home flowers for no reason.
Or, it can be as simple as calling or sending a text just to let them know you’re thinking of them, or expressing your appreciation because your love did the laundry (and folded it!) without being asked.
Little gestures can go a long way.
Think back to when you first met. You showed interest, you flirted. It was fun & exciting. Flirting is healthy.
No matter how long you’ve been in your relationship, a little healthy flirting is a great way to fuel the fire and show the other person you still find them as attractive and interesting as you did in the beginning. Tell her she looks sexy when she works at her desk.
Tell him how handsome he looks in that shirt. Leave love notes around the house, or send a flirty text: “Looking forward to seeing you tonight!” (insert wink or kiss emoticon here).
Go Your Way
When someone you love does something that you know they would rather not do—but they do it to make you happy—that’s love. Going your way to show someone you care is an act of love.
When your partner drives through a snowstorm just to see you? Well, that’s love.
wise, fixing their favorite meal after a hard day, or picking up their favorite flowers on the way home are little reminders you care.
Space to enjoy a much needed girl’s night out. Space to let him watch the game in peace…or with his buddies. Space to go for a run or read the paper.
Everyone needs a little alone time every now and again. Recognize this and don’t begrudge it; it’s healthy to give each other space and time for yourself.
It means you care for each other’s well-being as an individual, and that’s important.
Lend a Helping Hand
Oftentimes, daily chores can become mundane and go unnoticed or unrecognized. Just the simple task of pitching in and helping out without being asked can go a long way.
Little acts such as doing the laundry, running the vacuum, or unclogging the drain without someone having to ask you to do it lets your significant other know you care and are part of the team. Someone has to do these things or they’d never get done.
Not your dirty dish in the sink? Who cares, pick it up anyway. Helping out is a form of appreciation.
Say ‘Thank You’
Everyone s to feel appreciated. No one s feeling taken for granted. When your loved one does something nice for you or goes their way for you, be sure to let them know you appreciate them.
It can be too easy to get busy with our day-to-day life and forget to tell our loved one how much we appreciate them and are grateful for all they do for us.
The happiest couples are those who notice and respond when their partner makes that extra effort or reaches out. A simple smile or “thank you” is all that it takes.
You the thermostat set to 72 degrees while he s it set at 65? Be willing to be a little colder, or warmer, than you’d . Maybe you’re really good at taking care of bills on time and he’s a better cook or cleaner. Allow the person who’s better at that one thing to take charge of it. This can prevent unnecessary squabbles. Compromise makes relationships go round.
Don’t waste time on the negative aspects of your relationship. Focus on the positive things about your partner and your relationship that make it worthwhile. Don’t hold grudges or spend time fixated on petty things that don’t matter in the big picture.
Focus instead on the things you love about him/her— how generous, giving or helpful they are. Tell them—or others—how smart, funny, or kind they are. Talking about our partner’s best qualities, sharing their successes or achievements, serves to remind us what we find so wonderful about them.
Life is too short to focus on the negative; rather, stay focused on the positives that make your relationship loving and beautiful, and worth the investment.
Make Your Relationship a Priority
Everyone is busy. You’re busy. I’m busy. But, no one is too busy to text. Stay in touch. Send a love note: ‘Thinking of you…” or “xoxo.” Call just because. Plan a weekly date night. The little things matter as much as (if not more than) the big things.