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What Is Commitment in a Relationship & How to Know if You Have It?

Relationships can be confusing sometimes. You might be wondering ‘what is commitment in a relationship’ exactly? Does it always mean monogamy? Let’s learn.

What Is Commitment in a Relationship

After you’ve been together for a while, it’s normal to wonder about the future. If you believe in ‘The One,’ are they it? How can you tell if you’re exclusive without actually having the chat? Above all else, what is commitment in a relationship and does your relationship have it?

It’s important to understand the basics before you start questioning things and worrying too much.

Remember, every relationship is different. We all move at a different pace and move towards an aim that we decide for ourselves. You might not even be moving towards an aim at all, you might simply be going with the flow and that’s fine too!

So, what is commitment in a relationship exactly? How can you tell if the person you’re with is committed to you in the way you want them to be?

[Read: How to get through the most common commitment issues]

Let’s break it down – What is commitment in a relationship, really?

You should always be really wary talking about what something should look like in a relationship, because every single union on this planet is different. There are no rules, but there are certain terms that have a clear meaning. Commitment is one of them.

A commitment is a promise or an intention to someone.

In a relationship sense, that is a promise or intention to love, trust, be honest, be open, and be loyal to another person.

Of course, all of this has to be mutual and never simply one-sided. The relationship should come first, and your union should be a priority. It’s also important to know that your idea of commitment is the same as your partner’s otherwise you may end up misunderstanding each other and hurting one another without meaning to.

We know, that’s pretty vague, perhaps it’s best to show what is commitment in a relationship with examples. [Read: 19 signs you’re ready for a real committed relationship]

1. You spend a large amount of time together

This doesn’t mean you spend all your time together, and it shouldn’t mean that either. Spending every spare second together isn’t healthy.

What it does mean is you place importance and priority on spending time together and making memories. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the two of you alone, but it can include friends and family, too.

The bottom line is that you make time for one another. Time is a sign of commitment to the relationship. [Read: How much time should couples spend together?]

2. You show mutual respect

Commitment isn’t all about promises. It’s about showing respect to one another. This means consulting each other on problems and issues in life, sticking up for each other, and being one another’s biggest cheerleaders, empowering each other and supporting one another.

Basically, you respect each other as human beings, not just one half of a union. [Read: How to show respect in a relationship and love each other better]

3. You’re loyal and exclusive to one another

While there are many relationships that aren’t exclusive but still committed *open relationships*, loyalty is a key feature.

Both parties should be in agreement with exclusiveness and be comfortable and happy with it. It’s not a commitment if one person is going along with something simply because they feel they’ll lose the other if they show their real feelings. [Read: 16 common relationship tips that ruin your love life]

4 You trust one another

We’ve already mentioned that it’s not healthy to spend every second of the day together. Trust each other to go out and do your own thing, without ramifications and suspicions. Give each other space!

Allow each other to simply get on with what they need to do in life, without worrying about the other partner being distrustful and overanalyzing every small thing. [Read: Am I codependent? 14 signs you’re clingy and overstepping boundaries]

5. You make plans together

Plans don’t necessarily have to be long-term. They don’t have to stretch out years into the future, but you’re committed to the relationship enough to make plans together.

This might be a vacation in a few months’ time or a weekend break. Whatever it is, it’s a plan and a sign of a committed relationship.

6. You introduce each other to important people in your lives

You meet each other’s families and friends, you involve each other in your lives and you share details. This doesn’t necessarily have to be every single detail, but enough to be open and honest with one another.

It basically means that you don’t hide each other away whenever your mother comes over to visit! While you’re not necessarily involving them in every single part of your family and friends’ lives, you’re being open about the fact you’re together. [Read: Are we in a relationship? How to know if you’re a real couple already]

7. You share memories and secrets

Being open and talking about things that bother you, problems in your life, and secrets that you want to share shows a commitment to one another.

If you’re not committed, you’re not going to share details of your life. Why would you? However, when you’re committed, you’re happy for them to know the deeper parts of your life. In return, you expect the same from them. [Read: How the foundations of a relationship can separate the good from the bad]

Commitment isn’t about going social media official

We live in a digital age, and we share many different elements of our lives with friends and followers on our various social media pages. However, commitment isn’t about the point you go Insta-official or change your relationship status on Facebook!

You might think that going official on social media is the easiest way to let people know that you’re together. First, analyze why you feel the need to share this news in the first place. Surely it’s better to focus on building your relationship and working on your connection, rather than plastering the “news” all over the Internet?

Sure, share your memories, but do so because you want to, not because you think it’s a milestone in your relationship.

Before the days of social media, what do you think people did? Did they put an advert in the local newspaper? Place a card in the local shop window? Of course not! They simply went on with their lives, and if people saw them together as their relationship progressed, that was all fine and dandy! [Read: How to make a relationship official without relying on social media]

Committed relationships don’t need milestones

When looking at what is commitment in a relationship, don’t be fooled into thinking there are specific milestones to hit to call your relationship committed. It’s really about what is comfortable for the two of you. Everything must be mutual to tick this box.

If you’re committed to one another, then you place priority on the other person, on their feelings, their time and love. You respect them and show them kindness, love, attention. You are their biggest supporter. Those are the basics. Everything else is really up for debate and grabs. [Read: 15 committed relationship rules that can help your romance last a lifetime]

Does commitment mean monogamy?

Not always. Not everyone wants to be in a monogamous relationship. Of course. You need to make sure that the other person is on the same page as you.

Open relationships are very common and they can create a really committed and beautiful union between two people who are happy with that arrangement. However, some people want monogamy. And that’s fine too.

If you’re someone who is not comfortable knowing that your partner is spending time with other people, you need to have monogamy in order to commit to them properly. [Read: Is monogamy for you? How to know your needs and what works for you]

So, that means having an honest conversation and being on the same page. Don’t simply go along with the idea of an open relationship because your partner wants it. Make sure you’re happy with it too.

You can’t commit to a person who doesn’t fulfill your basic relationship needs. If you’re not compatible, i.e. your partner wants an open relationship and you don’t, then unfortunately you’re going to have to go your separate ways.

When the relationship starts to look like it’s turning serious, it’s time to sit down and talk about whether your needs align properly. It’s true that commitment doesn’t have to mean monogamy, but it does mean committing to one another in a way that ensures you’re both happy in the relationship. Respect is at the heart of it all. [Read: Dating vs relationship – How to read the signs and know your exact status]

Commitment means different things to different people

The term ‘commitment’ is something that everyone has a theory on, and trying to define it can be hard.

It doesn’t necessarily have to mean exclusive if that isn’t right for the couple in question, but it does mean loyalty if nothing else. You’re always there for your partner, you stick up for them, you build them up when they need it, and you’re their rock during times of need.

Of course, it’s important to have a strong grasp of what commitment means to you. That way, you can make sure you’re getting what you need from the relationship.

It sounds selfish, but it’s really not. It’s the basic pillar of a relationship and being fulfilled within it. Without a doubt, your partner should do the same. [Read: The right priority in your relationship – How to find and focus on it]

If someone is off partying with their friends all the time and not making their partner a priority in their life, that shows a distinct lack of commitment, doesn’t it? But, they might not think that’s what commitment is. They might deem commitment to be something else. Of course, they’re still showing a lack of respect by not making their partner a priority!

Relationships aren’t easy things. Everyone has a different idea of what it should be. While you should of course compromise a little, that doesn’t mean you should always be the one bending to your partner’s will.

When you commit to someone, you make a promise to make them a priority in your life and to give them what they need from you. Perhaps that’s the easiest way to describe it.

[Read: 20 healthy expectations in a relationship that define a good love life]

Everyone has their own opinion on what is commitment in a relationship. When you analyze it, the waters become a little muddy. Simply, look for the basics and identify whether you’re happy with it first and foremost.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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