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Sex + Relationships

‘Meant to Be’ or the Result of Hard Work? How Your Perception of Your Partner Influences Relationship Maintenance

Every relationship is different. Depending on who you ask, there will be varying answers to questions of relationship dynamic, pace, intimacy, and communication. Despite these discrepancies, there is much existing research that is able to give helpful insight into behaviors that can contribute to healthy relationships.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that people are more likely to participate in behaviors that maintain their relationships if they have greater levels of commitment, satisfaction, and love regarding their partner. However, a recent study in 2016 shows that even your implicit beliefs about a relationship can predict the likelihood of you using these maintenance behaviors. Some examples of maintenance behaviors that were examined in this study were positivity (optimistic and cheerful interaction), assurance (expressing desire to stay in the relationship), and shared tasks (completing your relationship responsibilities). Participants who believed that putting work into a relationship and overcoming problems was the way to achieve successful relationships were more likely to report that they used maintenance behaviors of positivity, assurances, and shared tasks in their romantic relationships. Participants who had the belief that their partner was either destined to be with them or not were less likely to report that they used these three behaviors. 

These findings could mean that when you view your relationship as automatically being meant to be or not meant to be, you may be less willing to put work into the relationship in the form of maintenance behaviors. On the other hand, if you see your relationship as something that has the potential to constantly grow and get stronger, you may be more likely to choose to act in ways that contribute to maintaining and creating you and your partner’s success. 

Obviously, it is important to be with someone who you believe you’re compatible with overall, but don’t forget that relationships take work and effort! Establishing a point of view that favors growth over destiny can have a positive impact on how you and your significant other maintain a solid relationship. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself in the dating world.

Rachel Lester

Oglethorpe '22

Rachel Lester is a Psychology major and Music minor at Oglethorpe. She loves animals (bugs included!), hanging out with her friends, and trying new foods.
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