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Take love to the next level: think ‘thank you!’

Want your relationship to go from casual to committed? Something as simple as gratitude – for who your partner is, and what they do for you – might be what you need, say romance researchers.

You and your man have been dating for nine months. Things are going well, but you feel there’s something stopping him 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 he’s more invested in your relationship than you think. Try asking yourself what specific things he gives up for the two of you.

Does he choose to watch a movie with you instead of hanging out with his friends? Does he help you study for an exam when you’re sure he’d rather be doing something else? Does he tag along when you’re buying clothes?

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 guy or girl 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 him or her, 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 his or her 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 with grow stronger.

Reference: The Things You Do for Me: Perceptions of a Romantic Partner’s Investments Promote Gratitude and Commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. (2013) 39(10): 1333-45.

 

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