If you want marriage to be in your future, you probably want to know whether your current relationship is heading in that direction. And if you feel like you and your guy aren’t seeing eye to eye on the matter? You could be in denial about it, finds a recent study from the University of Illinois.
In the study, researchers found that people in unions that eventually led to marriage had accurate memories of their courtship. (Psst! Make sure to have these 3 Conversations You Must Have Before You Say ‘I Do.’) But the people whose relationships regressed over the time of the study exhibited something called “relationship amplification.” When those couples looked back, they consistently recalled a higher level of “commitment to wed” even if they didn’t actually experience that commitment.
What gives? If things aren’t working out, but you’re still choosing to stay in a relationship, you sometimes feel a need to justify your staying—and the relationship, says study author Brian Ogolsky, Ph.D. Here’s why that’s a problem: By misremembering the past, you could be keeping yourself from recognizing a less-than-ideal situation (that is probably still going on) and denying yourself a more beneficial one, he says. Plus, it could make you feel like the relationship is moving in the direction that you want it to.
It’s tough to see relationships clearly—after all, they’re full of emotion—but if you’re on a path toward marriage (or want to be), think pragmatically so you can make the best decisions, says Ogolsky. For example, don’t let little problems snowball into larger ones—address the things that annoy you or the small things that seem to add up. Pay attention to you guy’s actions, or just his words, and watch out for these Relationship Deal-Breakers.
If your relationship seems to be regressing—you feel like you’re not as close to your guy as you once were; you’re no longer on the same page as each other; or that it seems like for every step forward your take, you fall two back—take a step back. “That’s a sign that something is amiss, and should be carefully considered, as opposed to being obscured.”