Men and women have tried to define commitment for centuries, whereas therapists have only recently started. Many of us know intuitively that commitment is a major purpose for relationships; that connection is inherent in all that we do, and without commitment, we cannot survive as couples.
But what is commitment, and how do we know when we have it? First, let's start off with what commitment isn't.
What Is Commitment? It Definitely Isn't...
- Manipulation. "If you're commited, then you would..." isn't commitment, but rather infatuation.
- Compromising who you are. If someone asks you to do or say something that isn't in your nature, that isn't commitment. Although commitment does involve compromises between partners, someone who sincerely have your best interest at heart will never ask you to change who you are in order to be commited.
- Violent. Passions can definitely become inflamed with someone you commit to, but a relationship with physical or emotional violence isn't truly commited. (More: Abusive Relationships p.159)
- Just lust. Yes, chemistry and physical attraction are important, but true love also includes commitment, trust and respect. (More: Sex as a Weapon p.113)
So what is commitment, and how do we know when we have it? When it comes to divine love, commitment is more than just monogamy. Its the knowledge that your partner cares for you and has your back, no matter what the circumstances. People who are strongly commited to one another will, when faced with seemingly negative information about their partner, see only the positive. For instance, a friend comments that your partner doesn't say a lot. "Ah yes, he's the strong, silent type," you reply. People with less commitment to their partner would instead say something like, "Yeah, I can never have conversation with him. Its annoying."
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