Timeline of a Love Affair
Ties That Bind continued...
But not all long-term relationships are carefully calculated. Some couples
commit. Others "get committed" by circumstance or inertia. That can
keep relationships on the shelf past their best-by date. "People have to be
aware when these things are happening," Bartell says. "It may seem
inconsequential that you get a dog with your boyfriend, but it's really
Making a conscious commitment is important. Research shows that solidly
committed couples are less vulnerable to relationship threats than more
uncertain couples are. Threats may include partners' potentially
"fatal" flaws, hurtful things they may say or do to one another,
temptation from sexy other men or women, pressure from anyone who disapproves
of the relationship, and all the sundry misfortunes that can befall people.
In other words, a love affair has more staying power when lovers aren't
questioning whether the other is "the one."
The big limitation of science in the study of love affairs is that it can't
predict what will happen to any particular love affair. Averages tell us what's
normal, but they flatten out all the tragic and triumphant love stories that
have been sung about for millennia. That's a good thing if you have high hopes
for love. The next great love affair could be yours.