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Commitment in a Relationship: The Key to Long-Lasting Love

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by eharmony Editorial Team - July 3, 2024

If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of commitment in a relationship, ask yourself how a relationship differs from being friends with benefits or a situationship? It’s commitment, which studies have shown is key to a relationship’s success1. In every study into what makes relationship work, commitment has been a consistent theme, whether it’s the three Cs of a relationship (communication, compromise, and commitment), or Stenberg’s Triangular Theory of Love (the three points of the triangle are intimacy, passion and commitment). At eharmony, we’ve seen the importance of commitment to building lasting relationships over the many years we’ve spent bringing couples together. Let’s talk about the definition of commitment in a relationship, offer a few examples of commitment in a relationship, and share a few ways for you to build commitment in your relationship.

What does commitment in a relationship mean?

What does it mean to be committed in a relationship? The definition of commitment in a relationship can change depending on the people involved – someone in their early 20s might see things differently than someone in their late 30s. As a rule, though, being in a committed relationship means you are serious about your partner and intent on a shared future together2. Not all relationships are committed, and that’s okay – you may be at a place in your life where a situationship (just having fun with each other, no commitment or long-term plans involved) works better. Regardless, it’s important to be clear what exactly is going on – while a lack of commitment is pretty much what a situationship is about, the same thing can doom a more serious relationship.

Commit to marriage: Why it’s the biggest step

Commitment is a cornerstone of any serious relationship but when you commit to marriage, you take it to a whole new level. Let’s look at what commitment in marriage is, the types of commitment in marriage and why someone might be afraid of marriage.

We know what commitment in a relationship means, but what does it look like? Here are five examples of commitment in a relationship:

1. You use ‘we’ when talking about it

When you’re in a committed relationship, the two (or more) of you are a team. While you keep your individual identities, more and more, you tend to use ‘we’ language when talking about plans, both present and future. This kind of shared language not only shows your commitment to each other, it’s also a sign that you see yourself a single unit – an important consideration when times get tough.

2. You work to meet each other’s needs

Everyone should be in a relationship where their basic needs are met. However, one of the signs of commitment in a relationship is you and your partner being willing to meet each other’s physical, emotional, and mental needs, even if that means compromising or making sacrifices.

3. You are satisfied with each other

One of the signs of lack of commitment in a relationship is the desire for something outside of it. When you are committed in love, you’re happy with your partner, flaws and all. When you’re satisfied in your relationship, it means you’re fulfilled in what you share and have a profound emotional connection. When people are satisfied with their partners, they’re more likely to be committed.

4. You have no interest in pursuing others

Sure, you or your partner might notice an attractive person from time to time – you’re only human – but if you’re in a committed relationship, that’s usually as far as it goes. If you’re one of the many couples who practice ethical monogamy, commitment in a relationship means figuring out how to balance your other partners with respect for your primary relationship.

5. You have obligations together

As your relationship deepens, if it’s a committed one, you’ll find your lives become more entwined. Commitment in a relationship doesn’t just have to be emotional – it can also be physical as well as financial. Examples of these kinds of commitments include having children together, owning property together, or combining your finances. The more obligations you share, the deeper your commitment.

How to build commitment in a relationship

Okay, you’re in a relationship… now how do you build commitment to each other? Here are five ways you and your partner can work on commitment in your relationship.

1. Be honest with yourself and each other

Before you can be honest with your partner, you must be honest with yourself. Make sure you know what your expectations and goals are, then make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Part of commitment in a relationship is being willing to have the hard conversations that move you forward. As a bonus? These conversations will help solidify your commitment.

2. Build habits and routines together

Life is a collection of routines, and so is a relationship. A great way to strengthen your commitment in a relationship is to have things you routinely with do each other that aren’t explicitly romantic – exercise routines, running errands, even specific chores. In addition to spending time with each other, make a habit of checking in – texts to say hi or sending each other links or photos, are all great ways to build commitment.

3. Give each other grace

Nobody is perfect – which is a good thing, because they’d be insufferable. Sometimes your partner will fail to live up to your expectations. A key component of building commitment is a sincere apology from the person who made the mistake, understanding and forgiveness from their partner, and a commitment to working together so it doesn’t happen again.

4. Work on your communication skills

Communication comes first in the three Cs of a relationship for a reason – no matter how much commitment or compromise there is, even the best relationship will fall apart without good communication.

5. Be prepared for ups and downs

Romance novels and movies have convinced us that getting together is where the story ends, but the truth is that’s where it begins. And even happily ever after can have hard times. There’s nothing like a job loss, an injury or an illness, or some other disaster to test your relationship. On the bright side? Staying together through hard times can strengthen the relationship,.

Commitment is the foundation of a good relationship

Not every relationship needs to be forever but if you’re looking for something serious, commitment in a relationship is key to building a future. Commitment is what keeps your relationship solid over the long term, once the first rush of romance is over. Ready to find someone who’s willing to make the same commitment? At eharmony, we’ve been helping singles find partners who share their values and relationship goals for over 20 years. Sign up today and start looking for real love.

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