Falling in love is great. But staying in love is difficult. When you meet someone who sweeps you off your feet, makes your skin tingle, and ignites deep feelings, the next logical step is to get into a committed relationship with them. After all, isn’t cementing your bond and planning your life ahead the most beautiful part of being in love?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Relationships have become rather complex these days with many factors impacting their success or failure. Jada, a 25-year-old computer programmer, speaks for a lot of people in her generation when she describes her current relationship with a man she met at work.
An ardent believer in love and marriage, Jada says she has realized that relationship and commitment are two different things. “We have been in an on-off bond. Despite my wanting to make it official, he keeps telling me things like “I am committed to you and don’t need marriage to prove it”. Frankly, I don’t know where it’s headed, though we care about each other a lot. We have decided to take each day as it comes and not think of the future,” she shrugs.
In other words, these days, it’s not enough to assume that traditional labels of boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner are enough to secure your exclusivity status, let alone assure you of a marriage. As a matter of fact, even marriage is not a foolproof guarantee of commitment as the rising number of breakups and divorces indicate. We spoke to psychologist Anita Eliza (MSc. in Applied Psychology), who specializes in issues like anxiety, depression, relationships, and self-esteem, about the signs that someone is (or is not) in a committed relationship, how to know if you’re ready for one, and how to get someone to commit.
What Is A Committed Relationship?
One of the essential elements of being in love is exclusivity. When you develop deep feelings for a person, there should be a strong, unshakeable belief that you belong to one another and no third person or circumstances can put a wedge between the two of you.
In a committed relationship, other elements like trust, honesty, kindness, support, and affection automatically come into play. Physical attraction might play an important part in the initial stages but beyond that, it’s emotions that firm up the relationship, taking it to another level. According to Anita, “In such a relationship, partners are committed to work through whatever problems they might face in their life.”
It is also interesting to note that there are different stages of commitment in a relationship and each couple may define the term differently. For instance, Jada says, “For me, just the fact that my boyfriend is there for me when I need him or whenever I am in trouble, is proof of his commitment. At this point in time, I don’t expect more from him.”
On the other hand, Harry, an events planner, states his golden rules for commitment in a relationship. “No part-time love for me please,” he says. “If I don’t have a person to stand by me in good times and bad, if he cannot assure me that I am the most important person in his life and if we do not plan a future together, then what’s the point of falling in love? Relationship and commitment are serious terms, it’s unfortunate we are taking it so lightly these days.”
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10 Signs That You Are In A Committed Relationship
Let’s admit it, during the dating stage, most couples are sizing each other up and gauging whether the object of their affection is the person for keeps. In the process, they try to look for the signs of commitment in their partner, to see if the bond they share will last the test of time or if it will fizzle out once the attraction wears off.
The increasing trend of hookup culture and the ease of dating, thanks to apps and dating sites, have made it rather difficult to have committed relationships that are built over time and with a lot of patience. In such a scenario, how can you determine if your partner is committed to you? Here are some signs of a committed relationship that can help you decide:
1. You spend a lot of time together
Planning a movie? Or a holiday? Or a tennis match? You don’t think of anyone else for company except the one you are in love with. When someone is special to you and the feeling is mutual, it is most natural to want to spend as much time together as you can. Your social media reflects their presence in your life as well.
Even in a long-distance relationship, couples will go out of their way to make time for each other. Harry narrates his experience of being in a committed relationship a few years ago. “Unfortunately, it did not last but when we were together, we were in it completely. We would spend every free moment with each other and it all happened effortlessly,” he recalls.
2. You do not obsess over them anymore
The first flush of love and the excitement it generates is unmatchable. You obsess over your lover, you want to present your best side to them, and you are constantly thinking of your next date. But as the relationship matures and gets into a comfort zone, this obsession begins to wane.
You realize that you do not have to worry about them not seeing your text or not answering your call. Being aware of each other’s habits and schedules and getting comfortable about it is a sign of commitment. You really do not go crazy with stress when they are unavailable on some occasions.
3. You both are equally invested
We won’t say you should keep count, but if you are wondering whether your partner is as much in love with you as you are with them, then it is a cause to worry about. From simple gestures like asking each other out for dinner to checking up on each other every now and then, reciprocity is one of the signs of a serious relationship.
If you feel that you are the only one who is initiating calls, fussing over your partner, getting worried when they are in trouble, and reaching out each time, it may mean that the love of your life isn’t as invested in the relationship as you are. Care, affection, and concern are not one-way streets, they have to be brought equally into a relationship by both partners.
4. You buy things for each other
Jada says one of the best things about being in a relationship is shopping for the other person. “When I was single, it was pretty much about me, me, and me. But after I got into a relationship, I naturally started including my boyfriend in my purchases. Similarly, he would buy me things without me even asking for them. It just showed that he was listening to my needs,” she says.
Being aware of one another’s needs – materialistic and emotional – and acting on them is a sure shot sign of a committed relationship. In the initial days, gifting may mean buying something that would make an impression on your crush. But as you get closer, your gifting pattern may change from being too fancy to things that are regular and useful. Of course, special occasions will still warrant special gifts.
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5. There is no pretense
Love and commitment demand total honesty from one another. The more you are in love with a person, the less you need to pretend. When you are in a committed relationship, you are free to reveal your vulnerabilities and insecurities. There is no pretense or farce and you do not feel the need to put up a facade.
Honesty also means being upfront about your needs, wants, and desires without the fear of losing them. There is an assumption in a committed relationship that you understand each other. Your relationship should not cause you stress. On the contrary, the company of your loved one should make you feel relaxed and happy.
6. Your future involves them
Exclusivity aside, commitment in a relationship means there will be conversations about the future. It can be something as simple as a vacation to conversations about engagement, marriage, and babies.
Perhaps you might not even need to spell it out but as you get more involved, you will find yourself discussing your hopes and plans for the future more than ever before. When the relationship is strong, you will even find yourself altering your plans to include them. That is definitely a huge sign of commitment. It shows that you want to make the relationship work.
7. You take steps to solve problems
No relationship is without problems. Despite your love and strong feelings for one another, there would be days when you fight, argue, and feel that you want to break off then and there. But you don’t. Despite the anger and the frustration, something holds you back and one of you extends the olive branch.
Love and commitment mean a willingness to work through your relationship problems. Both of you enter the relationship knowing that there would be thorny days ahead but there would be a desire to make it work rather than head toward splitsville at the first sign of trouble. You can’t talk about relationships and commitment if you aren’t prepared to fight the bad days.
8. You know each other’s family and friends
One of Jada’s biggest peeves against her boyfriend is that she has still not been introduced to his family and friends. “I don’t doubt his commitment toward me but I still haven’t met his family. It sometimes makes me wonder if he is scared of their disapproval,” she says. Therefore, watch out for this relationship red flag if you are looking for a sign of commitment.
Your relationship should be so strong that your partner should be certain about your place in their life. They should have no hesitation to introduce you to their family and friends. Being part of their inner circle shows that you are no longer an outsider to them or their loved ones. It gives a certain sign of legitimacy and a seal of approval to your relationship and commitment to one another.
9. Sex becomes secondary
Now, this is a huge leap in the relationship trajectory. Admittedly, every relationship begins with flirtation and sexual attraction. However, once you get past that stage, you want to meet each other and spend time with each other even when sex is not on the menu.
In a casual hookup, sex becomes an excuse to hang out but in a committed relationship, sex becomes an add-on to other forms of intimacy and emotions like care, affection, and respect. You can spend days and nights with your partner just doing things that you love, which may or may not involve sex. It is a definite sign that your relationship is heading to the commitment zone.
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10. You have access to their home
It requires a certain amount of trust in each other to give your partner a key to your house. Moving in together is, of course, a huge sign of commitment in a relationship but before that, comes the stage of sharing keys. Giving your partner access to your personal space indicates that they’re important to you, and vice versa.
Think about it – how many people have keys to your apartment with the freedom to walk in and out? If your partner is willing to give you the key to their place and you to them, a committed relationship would be the next step. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that sharing a key is a rite of passage for a couple.
According to Anita, “Committed people, who face challenges in relationships, understand that the issues are temporary and choose to find a way to make their partnership work. They are very clear about their commitment and, therefore, transparent with each other. They know that their partner is equally committed to the vision they have for their future.”
Easy-going conversations, increasing comfort levels, a certain feeling of intimacy are all signs that you are in a committed relationship and that your partner would be there to hold your hand and stand beside you. Of course, life is unpredictable and commitment does not mean your relationship will last forever. However, these signs help you know what to expect when you are dating a person. If six or more of the above points apply to your relationship, then congratulations, you are in a committed relationship that may fill your life and future with joy.
Signs You’re Not In A Committed Relationship
Love and commitment don’t always go hand in hand. Anita says, “People may be in love with one another yet not feel ready to commit to the relationship, and there can be many reasons for that.” It is normal and quite common for people to avoid or refrain from getting into serious or committed relationships. They may be fearful of commitment in a relationship or, maybe, they don’t want to think or talk about the future.
There could be several reasons that your partner is unwilling to be committed to you. Relationships and commitment are quite complex and require a person to dedicate themselves to one person for a long time. In the case of romantic relationships, probably for a lifetime. We’ve discussed the signs of a committed relationship. Let’s move on to the signs that indicate that you’re not in one.
1. Unhappy with yourself
One of the most common reasons your partner may not be committed to you is that they are unhappy with themselves. Says Anita, “When people are not happy with who they are, they find it difficult to commit to their partners. This is because they struggle with low self-esteem and cannot give to their partner what they can’t give to themselves.”
Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. We all deal with insecurities on a daily basis. We all have aspects of ourselves or our lives that we wish to change or work on. In such a situation, it is quite normal for a person, who is unwilling to commit, to feel that they might not be able to love someone else if they don’t love themselves in the first place.
2. Still not over your ex
This is, again, a common reason for people to avoid commitment in a relationship. According to Anita, “It is possible that they entered into a relationship with you in an attempt to get over their ex and not because they are in love with you.” It is possible that it’s a rebound. After all, getting over a past relationship takes time. If they are still in the process of recovering from a past breakup, they might not want to commit to a relationship at this point.
3. Not emotionally attached or in love with current partner
It’s easy to get carried away and mistake infatuation for love. It’s possible that one is not sure if they are with the right person or if what they are feeling is love. In such a situation, it’s best not to rush. Anita says, “It’s possible that they like you but have not fallen in love with you. Therefore, their feelings are not strong enough for them to take the next step and commit themselves to a serious relationship with you.”
4. Focus on other things in life
According to Anita, one of the reasons people might not want to commit is because “their lifestyle might have come in the way. They might have to constantly travel or may have crazy working hours. Therefore, they feel that committing to a relationship is not the best idea. It is also possible that they are not ready to compromise on or let go of their freedom and independence. They probably feel that a committed relationship might make them give up something they hold dearly.”
5. Commitment phobia
This is again one of the most common reasons people run away from commitment. Commitment phobia is real. Anita says that it could be a result of “past trauma, where they did not experience healthy relationships”. Such people have a tendency to run away or withdraw at the mere mention of commitment or even being called someone’s partner or spouse. The idea of getting into a committed relationship makes them feel claustrophobic or anxious.
There’s a huge difference between wanting a relationship and being prepared for one. If you’re not ready to commit to someone or put in the effort and bear the responsibilities to make the relationship work, then it’s probably a good idea to step back. Having said that, several factors contribute to fear of commitment. While it does make dating difficult, it isn’t impossible to have long-term relationships.
How To Get Someone To Commit To The Relationship?
Mutual commitment is crucial to building a healthy and long-lasting relationship. When you feel like the person you love is not committed to you, it can be heartbreaking. While it can be frustrating to expect or make your partner commit to the relationship, the key is to not be too hard on them. Their unwillingness to commit could be coming from a place of fear or emotional turmoil that they, maybe, aren’t ready to talk about.
While you can’t force someone to commit to the relationship, you can definitely do things to assure them that you’re around to help them take the next step. But make sure to not nag or pester them. Everyone needs their freedom and space. It’s a big decision. Here are a few ways you can get your partner to commit to the relationship:
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1. Love yourself first
Anita says, “It’s good to take care of your partner’s happiness and make them feel wanted but first, learn to love yourself. Learn to feel complete and whole by yourself. There is a saying, “Unless you are happy single, you cannot be happy married”. Learn to be happy on your own, otherwise you will always look toward your partner to keep you happy.”
Most importantly, be yourself. Spend time doing things you love. Don’t forget that you have a life outside of your relationship. Catch up with friends and family. Focus on yourself. It’s good to help your partner and be there for them. But make sure to not always be available at the cost of your own peace and other joys. Spend time away from them doing things you love. Learn how to love yourself.
2. Focus on emotional connection rather than a sexual one
Make sure to not use sex as a weapon or a means to make your partner commit to you. Look for emotional intimacy. Find an emotional connection instead of a sexual one. Work on building an emotional bond where you both spend time with each other to talk about your likes and dislikes, values, dreams, fears, ambitions, and personal growth. Having sex with your partner to make them commit is a sign of an unhealthy relationship and will only push them away eventually.
3. Don’t force them to commit
You cannot force someone to commit to you. Anita says, “Relationships are hard work. Just because two people are in love doesn’t mean that both are ready to commit to the relationship. It takes a lot more to maintain a healthy relationship with each other, which is why a willingness to commit and an awareness of what is expected of them is important.”
Forcing your partner to commit will make them run away from you. They will only commit to you when they feel ready, and that’s how it should be. If you force it, it’ll send a message that you’re trying to control them. It’ll decrease the trust they have in you, which is why you must not pressurize them and instead, find healthy ways to make them commit to you out of their own will.
4. Get to know their friends
Friends are an extremely important part of everyone’s lives. While you should be a friend to your partner first, we suggest that you get to know their circle as well. People usually attach a lot of importance to the opinions of their friends when it comes to choosing a life partner. It’ll help them understand if you fit into their world and also offer them a glimpse into what things could be like if you were around for life. The approval of your partner’s friends might just make them think about getting into a committed relationship with you.
5. Don’t try to change them
You wouldn’t want your partner to change you, right? Then, you mustn’t try to change them either. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws. Accepting them for who they are will give them the assurance that you genuinely love them with all their imperfections. It’s good to help your partner become a better person but you have to let them do it at their own pace. If you really love them and want to get into a committed relationship with them, accept them completely instead of trying to change your partner.
Your partner should commit to you willingly and wholeheartedly. That’s the foundation for a healthy relationship. Set boundaries, spend time with yourself, support your partner, but never pressurize them or issue ultimatums to make them commit. If they try to initiate a conversation about getting into a committed relationship, be open to listening to what they have to say. Be ready to discuss it with them.
How To Know You Are Ready To Commit To A Relationship?
Commitment in a relationship is probably the ultimate act of love. There could be several reasons for you to be scared of commitment but then one day, you might meet someone you want to be with for a lifetime. While you may not be able to find the right words to express how you feel, your actions reveal it all.
Commitment in a relationship requires a lot of work and comes with the realization that there will be several hardships and phases to deal with as the relationship progresses. The honeymoon period is not going to last forever. If you’re able to accept the stages of a long-term relationship, you’ll be able to commit willingly and honestly. If you’ve been with your partner for a while now, but are still wondering if you are ready to commit to them, these signs might help you decide:
1. You’re independent, happy, and content with yourself
According to Anita, “It’s a good thing for people in a relationship to be connected to one another and do things together. But they must also be able to take time out for themselves and do their own thing independently.” We agree. You need to be content on your own. You are responsible for your own happiness. You cannot depend on your partner for that. You should have an identity and a mind of your own that is independent of your partner. Your relationship with yourself is the most important. If you value yourself just as much as you value your partner, that’s a sign you’re ready to commit to a relationship.
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2. You’re willing to be vulnerable and intimate
Another sign that you are ready to commit is that you are unafraid of vulnerability and intimacy (emotional or sexual). You are comfortable being vulnerable in front of your partner. You feel safe and secure sharing your feelings and thoughts with them. You are not skeptical about being yourself in front of them and sharing your dreams, aspirations, goals, and fears with them. They know the worst things about you, have seen you be your weirdest self, and that’s okay.
3. You accept your partner with all their flaws
What is commitment in a relationship? Besides other things, it is the willingness to fully accept your partner. By complete acceptance, we don’t mean to say that you should tolerate any form of abuse. It means that you accept the pretty and beautiful parts as well as the broken ones. Anita says, “Most of the time, people stay together as long as things are going well. But if you can accept your partner and yourself during the worst times, know that it’s a sign that you’re ready to commit.”
4. You’re working toward building a healthy relationship
According to Anita, “If you know the importance of both giving and receiving in a relationship, if you know when to say a ‘no’ and follow healthy boundaries, are willing to own up to and apologize for your mistakes and make amends, if you are willing to work through the storms or challenges that life will throw at you as one unit, then you’re probably ready to commit to a serious relationship.”
A relationship will go through its ups and downs but it’s the way couples handle them that says a lot about the bond they share. Relationships are constant work. The levels of commitment in relationships vary depending on what each individual or couple wants from each other. As long as you are supportive of each other, help yourself and each other grow, pay attention to each other’s needs, and engage in constructive communication, you’ll be able to set the tone for a healthy partnership.
5. You want companionship but don’t need it
This is one of the major signs that says you’re ready for commitment. If you’re comfortable in your own skin, have accepted yourself for who you are, and are okay with being single, you’re probably ready for commitment. You should want companionship, not need it. So, if you’ve stopped actively pursuing love and are focused on your own happiness and growth, you’re ready to commit.
A 2019 study stated that relationship readiness decided whether it’ll last or not. A person’s readiness to commit is a good predictor of the success of the relationship. It found that a relationship is 25% less likely to end if the people involved are ready for commitment. The first and most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. To get into a healthy and committed relationship, it’s crucial that you love yourself, otherwise it’ll become difficult to give and receive love.
When you are comfortable with one another, do not have any secrets, are willing to discuss the future, and have met each other’s family and friends, it can be said that there is a certain level of commitment in a relationship.
A committed relationship makes a person feel secure, wanted, and cherished. You know that you are important for your better half and you will be involved in their decisions and plans for the future. A committed relationship makes you obsess less about the person you are in love with because you are secure in the knowledge that you belong to one another.
A person who is looking for stability in a relationship will value commitment too. They will be determined to make it work as they want to share a life with their partner.
Commitment phobia or being scared to commit in a relationship is probably due to past bad experiences. Lack of confidence in oneself and hesitation to trust another person can also prevent a person from committing.
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