Reliable Love, Commitment & The Forever Conversation

What everybody forgets about commitment is that you’re not just making one choice. You’re closing the door on all the other choices.

Choosing one thing means not being able to choose anything else.

That can be a risky step to take. No wonder many of us try to put off commitments for as long as possible.

Now think about your relationship.

You want reliable love.

You want to know there is someone who will be there when you blow it, when you get it wrong. Someone who won’t run out on you at the first sign of trouble.

It’s easy to love you when you put your best foot forward. But in a relationship, you need somebody who will love and forgive you when you don’t.

You need someone who will commit to you. That’s what that someone needs from you too. You both need the other to close the door on other choices.

A few years ago, I decided to run a marathon. I’d done lots of half marathons. But the idea of a full 26 mile marathon held a strong appeal.

I had just over three months to prepare. So I made a plan.

My first task was to lose weight! It was Christmas time and I needed to lose a stone by the end of January. So I did.

My second task was to get to the stage where I could complete a final 20 mile training run in mid-March, three weeks before the big day in early April. That meant doing my first half marathon training run by mid-February and then one a week thereafter. I did that too.

Yet until I ran that painful 20 mile run, I hadn’t really committed.

Yes, I’d made a plan and I’d acted upon it. But until that point, I hadn’t ruled out the other option, which was not to run the marathon at all. It wouldn’t be a disgrace. Only my immediate family knew of my plan. So I always had a way out if I wanted it.

But after cracking 20 miles, I finally realised I could do the full 26. I signed up for the event, paid my money, and asked my friends to sponsor me.

That was the point I was genuinely committed. I really wanted to run the race and had planned accordingly. But now I’d abandoned my exit route. I’d made it extremely embarrassing to change my mind and not run. I’d committed.

Three weeks later, I’m delighted to say that the marathon itself was a walk in the park!

Commitment is the choice to give up other choices.

So think again about your own relationship.

Have you given up the other choices? Are both of you clear about your future plan? Have you had that ‘forever conversation’? And have you now told all your friends?


My five top tips on finding reliable love

  1. Take it slow. You may feel madly in love right now. But commitment means making it work for years to come on days when you don’t feel in love. Taking it slow will stop you getting stuck in a relationship you can’t get out of.
  2. Check each other out properly. If you employ somebody you get a reference. If you buy a house you get a survey. Before you commit to somebody, find out what they’re really like from friends who have known them a long time.
  3. Ask yourself if they are ‘marriageable’? You don’t have to marry them. But you do need to be able to see a future with them. If you like their character, then they are ‘marriageable’. If you couldn’t imagine being with them forever, then you’re wasting your time and should quit now!
  4. Look for red flags. Somebody might appear very marriageable in most respects but also have a bad habit of wanting to control or criticise or defend, or take drugs or drink too much, or have wandering hands or eyes. Ask friends and family if this is a deal breaker and then act on it.
  5. Obey the ‘two year rule’. You won’t find out much more about each other after two years than you already know now. Nor do you want a relationship that drifts on for years in a state of ambiguity. If you’re less than 100% crystal clear about your future together, then you need to have that ‘forever conversation’ now!

Harry Benson

Harry Benson is the Research Director for Marriage Foundation. His research findings are routinely cited in the media by politicians and have made front page news on several occasions. He’s also an author and his most recent book (May 2020), Commit or Quit: ‘The Two Year Rule’ and other Rules for Romance has inspired this year’s Marriage Week Campaign. Harry has been married to Kate for 34 years and they have six children.

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