Thank you note
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Thank you: moving from casual to committed relationships

Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? Gratitude – for who your partner is, and what they do for you – might be what you need, say romance researchers.

You have been dating for nine months. Things are going well, but you feel there’s something stopping your partner from really committing to the relationship. And as a result, you’re afraid to go all in.

Those little things you do for me

But maybe they're more invested in your relationship than you think. Try asking yourself what specific things they give up for the two of you.

Do they choose to watch a movie with you instead of hanging out with their friends? Does your partner help you study for an exam when you’re sure they’d rather be doing something else?

Being aware of these things could be a direct route to a more committed relationship.

At least, that’s what a study by Canadian researchers found. They asked participants to take a close look at how invested their partner was in their relationship. One of the ways they did this was by filling in daily diary entries about the sacrifices their significant other made to be with them, big or small. The researchers then looked at how committed the participant was and whether things like trust and gratitude had anything to do with it.

Upping the commitment

Being aware that your partner is invested in your relationship helps you feel more committed to them, the three studies showed. That’s true both in the present and up to nine months down the road. (Well, maybe longer – but at that point, the study ended!)

Why does believing your partner is putting time and effort into your relationship lead to you feeling more committed?

Trust is definitely part of it. If your partner is investing in the two of you, you probably feel you can trust him or her to be there when you need them, which in turns makes you feel safe in upping your commitment to the relationship.

'Thanks for being awesome!'

But feeling grateful also plays a major part, the research showed. It serves as a reminder that you’ve got an awesome partner who’s worth committing to.

What seems to matter is just realising that your partner is investing in your relationship – it doesn’t really matter what they actually do!

So by becoming more aware of their sacrifices and favours, you could give your relationship a very real commitment boost both in the present and future.

Basically, the researchers have rediscovered that old piece of love-life wisdom: don’t take each other for granted. If you feel more grateful, your relationship will grow stronger.

Reference: Joel, S., Gordon, A.M., Impett, E.A., Macdonald, G. & Keltner, D. (2013). The Things You Do for Me: Perceptions of a Romantic Partner’s Investments Promote Gratitude and Commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 39(10): 1333-45.


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