Monday, October 5, 2009


In my last post, I described the idea of pre-commitment. Now let’s apply it to relationships. Quick recap: A pre-commitment is deciding ahead of time—before a situation or circumstance—what you intend to do. Research shows that pre-commitments make it more likely that we will do what we intended to do when the time comes. Of course, pre-commitments don’t protect us completely from temptation to stray from the plan, and not all plans should be kept.

How effective are pre-commitments? It probably depends on scads of things, including the area of pre-commitment. Some things are harder to stick to than others. What kinds of things are hard for you to stick with in day-to-day life?

While not any panacea, it should be kind of obvious that deciding what you intend to do makes it more likely that you will do what you intend and not slide into whatever.

The opposite of pre-committing is letting WHATEVER happen. WHATEVER can be all kinds of things. WHATEVER can be good, but at important times in life, WHATEVER can be bad. A lot depends on if a lot is at stake. There is nothing wrong with sliding into WHATEVER if nothing WHATSOEVER is at stake.

Okay, time to work. You, I mean, not me. I’m going to be done working after I finish this. I’m going to assume that you, the reader, are in one of two categories:

Category One: You are a single or a sort-of-single. Either way, you are not done looking around for the person you might want to be with for the rest of your life.

Category Two: You in a committed relationship, and that means are not looking around because you have committed to someone (most likely, in marriage). Of course, you could be looking around, but that’s another story.

You category two types can get something out of pondering these questions in your relationship. However, I’m going to focus in on category one folks today.

Here are some steps you can take to up your pre-commitment game.

1. Think about the WHATEVERS that can happen in your love life that you might like to avoid.

2. Think about what you would like to have happen instead of various WHATEVERS. In other words, what is the anti-WHATEVER?

3. What pre-commitments could you make that would make it more likely that the best things would happen?

Here is one example. Sarah wants love in her life. She’s not been in a relationship for some time and she is feeling lonely. She has had serious relationships that, ultimately, didn’t go where she wanted them to go. Sarah happens to have a strong faith tradition and belief; however, she has not thought much about the beliefs that she wants or needs her future mate to hold, when she gets to the “to have and to hold” part she seeks. (I’m just picking one particularly important area of compatibility for Sarah, but you could apply this point to any number of things, including hobbies, looks, values, life motivation, beliefs about being green, etc.) Since she has no pre-commitment to herself about what she should hold out for, she’s looking for love in WHATEVER places she happens to be. She’s not guided by a pre-commitment to what she should see in a person before falling in love.

You could think about what pre-commitment means to someone like Sarah in terms of setting boundaries. These boundaries could be her minimum standards for a mate in areas like values, drive, or intentions about having children (or not). In her dating life, she could set boundaries about things like her romantic and sexual behavior. Where will she draw the line? Does she want there to be a line? Anywhere? I know it may sound quaint but people can decide who they are and what they will do, and not just let WHATEVER happen.

Yes, I’m talking about mate selection, again. I talk about that subject a lot because people have a lot of options—or at least some options—about where they will end up in their love lives. And people have the greatest number of options before they get settled on one path with a specific partner.

If you are seriously seeking someone, at sometime, what are some of the pre-commitments that you could make that would help you find lasting love? If you decide on some pre-commitments, are you willing to write them down? Do you have a good friend that you could tell them to—someone who’s willing to encourage you to stick to what you think is important?

Without deciding otherwise, WHATEVER will be will be.

Que sera sera, Sarah.