New research finds that timing is everything when it comes to entering into a successful long-term relationship; finding someone who is ready to commit is a strong indicator of whether the relationship will be successful.
Purdue University investigators said being ready to enter into a relationship leads to better relational outcomes and well-being.
“When a person feels more ready, this tends to amplify the effect of psychological commitment on relationship maintenance and stability,” said Dr. Chris Agnew, a professor of psychological sciences and vice president for research at Purdue.
“The reverse is also true, based on the results from the study; when a person feels less ready for commitment while in a relationship, they are less likely to act in ways to support that relationship.”
Research findings appear in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
For the investigation, Agnew and colleagues Dr. Benjamin Hadden and graduate student Ken Tan reviewed the results from four studies and five independent samples focusing on reported readiness and commitment to an ongoing relationship.
Investigators analyzed to what degree people were willing to be involved in the day to day behaviors that help maintain a relationship. The actions were deemed to be integral to the ultimate stability of a relationship.
Initially, investigators surveyed over 400 adults in committed relationships, assessing their sense that the current time was right for the relationship (i.e., their commitment readiness), their satisfaction with the relationship, and their investments in it. They found a robust correlation between current sense of readiness and one’s commitment level.
To follow up this initial study, Agnew and colleagues ran studies with university students, first in an initial assessment with over 200 students, and then as follow-ups with some participants five and seven months later to see who was still together.
Based on their results, being “commitment-ready” was a key predictor of both success and failure. Greater readiness predicted lower likelihood of leaving a relationship. Those feeling greater readiness to commit were 25 percent less likely to break up over time.
People who reported being highly committed to their current partner but didn’t feel that the current time was best for them to be in a relationship were also more likely to end a relationship than their peers who expressed greater readiness.
And those who were commitment-ready were more likely to do the day to day work needed to maintain the relationship.
Researchers acknowledge that feeling ready to commit to a relationship at a given time is very much an individual choice.
“People’s life history, relationship history, and personal preferences all play a role. One’s culture also transmits messages that may signal that one is more or less ready to commit,” said Agnew.