Breaking Commitment Types Into Four Groups
Using participants' monthly feedback, the researchers identified four distinct commitment patterns.
- Dramatic (34% of the sample) – This group had an “up and down” type of relationship, with more downturns and steeper changes in commitment than other groups. These individuals spent more time apart and had lower opinions of the relationship, and their families and friends were less supportive of their relationship.
- Partner-focused (30% of the sample) – This group had a “my partner is the center of my universe” approach to commitment and experienced very few downturns. Their changes in commitment hinged on how much time they could spend together.
- Socially involved (19% of the sample) – This group experienced very little variability, and fewer downturns than those in the dramatic and conflict-ridden groups. When changes occurred, they were largely determined by the amount of interaction with their social network and what those friends and family thought of the relationship.
- Conflict-ridden (12% of the sample) – This group includes the fighters. Like the dramatic group, this group had a large number of downturns. The sizes of the changes were not as steep, but they were disproportionately due to conflict in the relationship. Those in this cluster also reported fewer positive things to say about the relationship than those in the partner-focused group, and less support from family and friends than the socially involved group.
Much like boiling your entire personality down into a color or series of letters, fitting your relationship into one of four tidy categories has intuitive appeal. Yet classification is simplification. Our relationships and psychological experiences are complex in a way that defies basic categories or groups; every relationship cannot fit neatly within these four categories. However, they provide one framework for understanding how relationships progress.