How Running Hot and Cold Kills Commitment
Recipe for Disaster
Love and relationships are complicated enough, but apparently, running hot one day and cold the next with your beloved is a recipe for disaster. Or at least it leads to increased anxiety and a breakdown in connection, contentment and commitment. Researchers from universities in Turkey, the US and the UK teamed up to explore this issue of the impact of responsiveness and consistency of responsiveness on romantic relationships and what they found was eye opening.
If one day your beloved responds quickly and favorably, they listen carefully and ask questions, reply to texts, etc. and the next they seem a million miles away or they ignore texts, etc. that makes people antsy, feel unloved, disconnected and ultimately lose their sense of commitment to the relationship at all.
Slow & Steady Wins the Race
You’d think being great some of the time was better than average most of the time, but no. The extreme reactions of being either very responsive or very unresponsive led to couples having more attachment issues than if there was average responsiveness overall.
Apparently when it comes to love, slow and steady wins the race. It’s not how great you are one day or how bad it ends up getting, the most important thing is that you’re consistent in your responsiveness.
How responsive you think your partner is to you is apparently a pretty big deal for the quality of your relationship. The study goes as far as to call it “a key predictor of relational outcomes.”
When you or your beloved run hot and responsive one day then cold or disappears the next, that erodes trust and confidence. Then anxiety and unhealthy attachment mounts. You never know what to expect so a level of unrest sits under the surface, making it difficult to build bonds that last.
The MAIN message of this study is that it’s not just how responsive you are, but how consistent you are in that response.
Being consistent in your responsiveness builds trust. You don’t have to do back flips, check in all the time, be at each other’s becandcall, do what the other wants. Just be consistent in your communication. Show you care about your partner’s experience and happiness. Reply to their texts or calls from the other side of the house. Lean into their invitations. That’s all great. Just remember that while being responsive is wonderful, being CONSISTENT about being responsive is better.
Autonomy & Inspiration
It is tempting to take this research and begin to assess how responsive and consistent your beloved is with you, but that too is a recipe for disaster. You can’t change anyone. Trying to fix or improve your beloved is an antagonizing effort. Often trying to give feedback or improve your beloved backfires. They might even resist something that they would have loved if they had been the one to initiate it. When it comes to personal growth and Loving Better, it’s best to look at YOURSELF. Autonomy and choice is a foundation of growth. You’re better off inspiring your beloved by making your own shifts, than you are trying to get them to make shifts you think they should make. You have the opportunity to choose looking at how you can Love Better. How you can be more responsive and consistent.
How responsive are you to your beloved? Do you respond to their texts, calls, questions or requests? Are you more likely to roll your eyes at them or engage with then and ask questions about what they’re saying? More importantly, how consistent are you being?
Try out these top tips on how to be RESPONSIVE and CONSISTENT. Find which tips resonate for you and go for it. Explore your own path to being responsive and consistent. Of course it isn’t about loving perfectly, but it is about Loving Better, so just lean in and find what fits YOUR relationship right now.
- Be Engaged - Whether it’s a call, text, a shout out from the other room or even a question over a meal, respond, don’t leave your beloved hanging. It may take a minute to respond, but do it as soon as you can. Be alert for their attempts to engage and connect. Love Better by being engaged.
- Be Sensitive – It’s not just the time it takes to respond, but what is the QUALITY of your engagement? Are you sensitive to your beloved’s experience and state? Are you using their love language? What is a great response in one moment might be terrible at another time. Pause, look, listen and feel into what might be going on in their attempts to engage with you. Love Better by being sensitive.
- Be Willing - You don’t have to yes all their invitations or cow-tie to their needs and desires. Still, having a Couple Culture where you are generally interested in pursuing what makes each of you truly happy, where you lean towards YESing them - it builds deep trust and goodwill. Love Better by being willing.
- Be Creative - If your beloved extends an invitation you’re not into, consider using creativity to find a variation that works for both of you. Look for synergy, not compromise. Try out the “Yes, and” or “No, but” approach. Say “Yes I will do that AND I’d like to do something else as well/before.”, or the other side of the same coin, you can say, “No, I don’t want to do that, BUT I will do this…” Love Better by being creative.
- Be Responsible - There WILL be times when you’re not responsive or consistent. You might be under-resourced, stretched thin or distracted. The reasons don't matter much, but you acknowledging that you’re not your usual self will. Instead of deflecting or explaining, just own that you’re off your relationship game. Love Better by being responsible.
- Be Realistic - Don’t bite off more than you can chew or over promise with your beloved. BEFORE you say yes to something, consider how committed you are to that yes and how likely you are to succeed. If you want to say yes to something big, break it down into bite sized actions. Love Better by being realistic.
- Be Organized - Our brains are designed to forget so we say “sure honey” and think we’ve got it, but poof, it disappears! We go into a room for something and forget what we went in there for, so what has people think that they can keep it all in their head? Organize your agreements by scheduling them in your calendar. Even if you end up moving it, the action or event has been captured in the physical plain so you don’t have to remember it. Love better by being organized.
- Be Aware - Often we THINK we’re being more consistent than we actually are. We humans often skew facts to our thinking so we need external checks to confirm how consistent we think we are. You might ask your beloved how consistent they think you are, where they think you’re doing a great job and where you could be more consistent in the future. Not as a fix, but as an Even Better If. Love Better by being aware.
In the theme of How to Keep the Fights Clean BEFORE, where we invest in intimacy BEFORE any conflict emerges, we invite you to lean into Loving Better by looking at how hot and cold you are in your responses to your beloved. Where might you be more responsive? How might you decrease some of the extremes and increase some of the consistency?
You’ve got options! There are MANY paths up the mountain. Find YOUR path. Use this list above, explore our other blogs or make up your own. Start small or dive in to the deep end. Just do SOMETHING! Remember, it isn’t about loving perfectly, it is about loving better.
Pick one of the ways of being from each of the two lists above.
- Set a goal, make a commitment that supports each one.
- Put the goal into reminders or prompts to keep it visible.
- Set a time to check in with your progress, schedule it and do it.
- Share what you learned with your beloved and ask them for any feed FORWARD.
- Let us know how it went!
Your Ally in Aiming for Awesome,
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