In the realm of human relationships, commitment stands as a foundational element, particularly in romantic partnerships.
While you don’t need a public declaration or a promise ring, there are certain expectations around committed relationships, and what it means to be committed to your romantic partner. Unlike casual or fleeting interactions, a committed relationship signals a profound dedication, where both individuals see themselves as part of a united team, facing life’s challenges and joys together.
Since commitment can mean different things to different people, how do you know if your partner is committed to you? And, if they truly see a future with you, can you spot the signs early on?
Commitment in a relationship is generally defined as the intention to maintain a relationship, with both partners willing to put the effort in to make the relationship work. Instead of treating the relationship casually, both parties are in it for the long haul and are willing to commit to a long-term relationship.
To be in a committed relationship, a couple has to agree upon the level of commitment expected and decide what their future together will look like. In the modern era of dating, this conversation is usually seen as a big deal — with both partners agreeing on their level of exclusivity and what they can expect from each other going forward.
While we often think of these conversations being limited to monogamous relationships, people in open relationships, or who are polyamorous will have extensive conversations and clarity on how they define their expectations and cement the boundaries they want to put in place.
Research does not recognize married couples as ‘more committed’ than other serious romantic relationships. This study highlights the importance of commitment over a formalized ceremony, as moral consistency values to stick together through adversity, signified what it meant to be committed.
People commit to relationships for a variety of reasons, including a desire for an emotional bond, security, or even a fear of loneliness.
At the heart of many commitments is the search for a profound emotional connection, with a lot of people set on a quest for their great love story. This encompasses the human desire for companionship, love, and a sense of belonging. Not only that, but finding your significant other can be a great sense of security and safety — as you’re no longer taking on life alone, but as a team player.
However, it's important to acknowledge the influence of social and cultural expectations. In many societies, being in a committed relationship is seen as a normative stage of life, and societal pressure can sometimes play a role in the decision to commit. Additionally, there are tangible benefits, like economic stability and shared resources, which are also a driving force for couples considering marriage.
Why human beings find such solace in commitment is a much wider argument, with many factors pulling couples to commit to each other long-term. However, more modern relationships are opting for a greater lack of commitment in their relationships — choosing freedom and exploration over more traditional romantic avenues.
Commitment is an important part of any serious relationship, as it promotes security and can help naturally override any fears or insecurities.
In a new relationship, things can feel a bit confusing and complicated, as you’re unsure about the level of commitment you should be expecting from your partner. However, once a commitment has been made, it helps define your future plans together — enabling you to continue your journey from a place of security and trust.
Research shows that commitment has a powerful influence on individuals’ relationship behaviors, promoting actions that serve the best interest of the couple rather than the short-term interest of the self.
This provides a solid foundation for the relationship, as committed partners more naturally tend to each other’s needs and consider what their partner wants, alongside their own desires.
These benefits are not restricted to monogamy, as all romantic relationship dynamics can benefit from defining the level of commitment in their relationship. As long as everyone is in the loop, and is comfortable with the arrangement, the same perks still apply.
Expectations are normal in any relationship, and if you have certain boundaries or dealbreakers, this should not be viewed as a bad thing! It’s important to know your expectations going into any relationship, as it helps define the dynamic from the start.
Within a committed relationship, expectations are defined based on both partner’s needs and wants. Therefore, they are completely malleable depending on each individual couple.
For example, some couples have certain expectations about how often they should spend time together, what they can expect from a future together, or even how often they hang out with each other’s friends and family!
Conversations about commitment are crucial to the development of a healthy relationship, as it ensures that you’re on the same page.
However, even though your partner may provide you with frequent reassurance, how do you know if someone is really committed to a future with you?
Research uses the interdependence framework to define how couples go from thinking from an individual perspective to developing an identity as a couple. This “transformation of motivation” turns couples into ‘We’ people, whereby they take into account long-term goals for the relationship as an entity in addition to their own needs and desires.
This can start with the little things, and while you will have to make sacrifices and compromises for the sake of the relationship, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your individuality or opt for co-dependency.
When you take on your partner’s needs and wants in this way, this strengthens your emotional connection and solidifies your bond as a couple. Even though this sounds intense, being in a committed relationship can be as simple as combining the intention to be together — with the sense of building a future as a team.
This transition might be easy enough to theorize about, but how do you locate these changes in a committed partner?
While it’s important to openly discuss the level of commitment expected in your relationship, there are also a few signs of commitment to look out for — especially in the early days of a new relationship.