Promises are statements of future intent and keeping them is one of the most important components of trust.
In intimate relationships they can be widely variable, from something minimally significant like, “We’ll get together soon,” to much more important like, “I’ll text you as soon as I get home,” or “I’m only going to date you now.”
Many people make promises at the time that they intend to keep, but haven’t taken into consideration events that might keep them from delivering on them. Others make them to get what they want in the moment, knowing they will never come through. Some feel coerced into guaranteeing behavior in the future they have no way of doing, but are intimidated into making a contract they can’t fulfill. Anyone, at times, can want desperately to deliver a promise they have no capacity to do at the time, but hope they will when the promise comes due.
When feelings are authentic in the present, but wane over time, many intimate partners don’t tell their partners, hoping those prior feelings will return before they have to forfeit a relationship that is still important to them.
When time goes by and they do not feel differently, or even worse, they are now in danger of pulling out of a relationship when their partners haven’t had warning. Afraid to hurt, distance, or lose that relationship, they hung in there without sharing their lessening interest. Now they have two problems to face: getting out of a relationship that has lost its meaning, and bearing the brunt of hurting and humiliating someone they truly loved at one time.
Because the majority of intimate partners do care about their significant others, they don’t make promises lightly or without the intent to keep them.
They also know the difference between a light-hearted promise and those that would create significant heartbreaks were they not followed through, or at least re-negotiated. Also, the partners of well-intentioned lovers do learn, over time, the differences between well-intended but unlikely commitments to future behaviors, and those that are tossed out but unlikely to happen. People who know and love each other depend strongly on the other’s good intentions and are quick to forgive those slight mishaps that simply define the difference between desire and action.
However, anyone’s trust can wither over time if their partner’s consistently make promises they do not keep.
Yes, some are made into jokes: “Don’t expect him to be on time. He really means it, but you have to tell him it’s a half-hour earlier than it is to compensate. He’s worth it when he gets here, so we just allow for it.” Or, “I really love her, but she just can’t seem to prioritize her commitments and she’s always rescheduling her appointments. I feel sorry that she’s so distressed about disappointing people but she truly doesn’t mean it and her friends always forgive her.”
But others are more serious, especially when that promise is important to the other partner.
“I promise that I’ll cut back on the spending, honey. I know you’re right and I’ll make it a high priority.” “I know that I’m out of shape and it’s important to you. I’ll sign up at the gym first thing in the morning.” “I’m really undependable about texting you right back. It’s not fair. I’m going to really work on that.” “I won’t respond to my old girlfriend’s texts anymore if it bothers you.” “You can’t count on me to be on time from now on.” “I’ll only watch porn with you in the future, I promise.” “I’ll tell you from now on if you’re doing something that bothering me.” “I won’t yell at you anymore just because I’m angry.”
The more un-kept promises are made, the more difficult it is to trust that they ever will be.
The greater sadness is that any trust continually broken in any one area, even those that are relatively unimportant, will eventually bleed out to every other area in the relationship. Relationships usually begin with a lot of forgiveness and accepted excuses but, over time, certain issues can become more prominent and less easily erased. The early relationship is proportional, that is, the good outweighs the bad and the problematic issues take a back seat. As the relationship matures, those issues that seemed innocuous to the future of the relationship can slowly erode away at the core of the relationship. Trust breaking is one of the most susceptible to that increasing damage.
It is natural and expected that most people are not completely able to predict their future feelings and behaviors no matter how phenomenal a new relationship seems to be. Life is meant to challenge as time goes by and intimate relationships are no exception.
However, there are ways that devoted couples can predict and influence their future trust in one another.
These simple rules are not as simple to live by, but they genuinely pay off if you can live by them.
Everyone has the right to change desires and commitments, and relationship partners are no exception. If those differences in life views, expectations, dreams, or desires evolve and transform over time, it is crucial that intimate partners keep each other up to date as soon as they realize those differences. It may temporarily challenge the relationship, but it also makes it possible to authentically recommit to that new future for both partners.
Here are some articles I’ve written for Psychology Today Internet Blogs that may give you additional help:
What Causes Boredom in Intimate Relationships
Can a Relationship Survive Betrayal?
How to End a Relationship When Your Partner Still Loves You
Are You Withholding Love?
Couples’ Alert – Is your Love Dying?
Are you Afraid of Falling out of Love?
When is it time to let a Relationship go?
Promise Keepers – The Committed Partners who Stay Faithful
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
If he says he’ll call and doesn’t or says he’ll meet you and doesn’t, that’s out of your hands.
The only control you do have is to do your homework by getting to know the person you are dating and assessing his integrity, sense of responsibility and trustworthiness.
You CAN try to follow-up with him, though, to find out what happened. In other words, you can put him on the spot to explain the circumstances behind his inconsiderateness and thoughtlessness. After all, you’re not sitting around waiting for him – and he needs to know that.
Your time is very precious and you don’t want to waste it obsessing for someone who doesn’t value you as much as you deserve.
So, when a guy does this to you, you need to move ahead –knowing that there’s someone better out there who will be more considerate of your feelings and time.
Basically, you are acknowledging your self-worth and confidence and asserting that you are not desperate or willing to be treated badly by any one for any reason.
You are stating that you want to be respected and honored and above all, treasured by a guy who holds you in high esteem and opinion.
The next time a guy doesn’t call, don’t fret. He is probably someone you didn’t want to be with anyway, because if he’s into you, he wouldn’t treat you that way.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com