Whenever we go shopping, whether it be for clothes, food, or entertainment, it is both normal and appropriate to look for the best deal. We want to find something that fits our tastes and is within our budget. It is common to look at one item and then put it back on the rack or shelf to go look at another brand or flavor. We do not need to make a choice until we have seen all the options, and when we do finally make our purchase, we are more likely to be happy with our choice because we know we have found the best deal for us.
But what happens when dating becomes all about finding the best deal?
A recent study by Amber Vennum at Kansas State University and Matthew Johnson of the University of Alabama reveals the truth about people who treat relationships like shopping.
The Truth About Reshelving
Relationship cycling occurs whenever two people break off a relationship and then get back together again later. Whatever the reason for the break-up, such a pattern is becoming more common with almost 30-50% of couples experiencing at least one break-up and reconciliation.
One reason for this trend may be out of fear of “settling.” Like shopping, some people want to make sure there isn’t a better option for them. They often use the excuse “if I can’t find a better partner, then I can come back to this relationship and be more committed. We will both be more sure about each other if we play the field a little more.”
But instead of becoming stronger and more committed, people in cycling relationships are more likely to experience problems than relationships which remain stable over time. In the study, newlywed couples who had experienced cycling were more likely to be doubtful about their choice to marry and the future of their marriage, as well as experience more conflict and less satisfaction. In other words, the experience of cycling did not nothing to improve the relationship.
If we feel like a can of soup, just one option of many, we are more likely to worry that our partner is always looking for a “better” option, even if they left us and came back. Since we fear losing our relationship, we are less likely to invest as much energy and effort into the relationship. Our partner is likely doing the same because if they tried to find a better option before, they may still think there is a better option.
Commitment based on having found the best option really means we have given control of our relationship to our partner.
The Better Option – Be the Supplier, not the Shopper
In reality, there is a better option, but it has nothing to do with finding the right person among many. True commitment is not about “finding” the right person, but making our relationship right. Instead of being a date shopper, always looking for the better option, be the supplier, the person looking to make the best product out there. In other words, once we have made a choice in partner it is time to make the relationship work. We take control of our relationship. If both partners take control, then we are better able to work together and feel more secure in our choice.
So don’t let anyone treat you like a can of soup. If they put you back on the shelf, don’t let them take you back again. Someone else will come along who won’t want to put you back.
If you want to see the areas you can work on to make your relationship the right one for you, try taking our RELATE Assessment here.
Written by: Dallin