Often people worry about what their girlfriend or boyfriend really thinks about their relationship. They ask ‘Are they as committed as me?’, or even ‘How do I really feel?’. New Research suggests listening out for words like ‘We’ and ‘Us’ instead of ‘I’ and ‘Her/Him’ reveals more than we think. This tip, while obviously not fool-proof, is a good indicator.

Often people in relationships that are new and/or getting more serious, wonder about where it is they really stand.

Does the other person like you as much as you like them? How serious are they about making this work? How serious are you deep down about it?

There use to be a clear path from singleness to marriage…that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Others Worry Too 

These concerns are very normal. In our society, people used to have chaperones and time organised by their family to get to know their potential partner. Before that, many marriages were simply arranged between the parents.

In other words, there was a clear path from singleness to marriage/long-term relationships. That just doesn’t exist anymore. It isn’t as easy anymore.

The language we use when talking about the relationship reveals a lot

We’re now expected to not only find someone on our own, we’re meant to ‘just know’ if the relationship is going to work and what the other person is feeling. This leads to crossed wires, mixed signals, heartache, and confusion.

While I cannot give you a quick fix answer or fool-proof plan, the science suggests that the language we use when talking about the relationship reveals a lot about how we, and the person we’re dating, is really feeling.

So we need to remember to:

• Communication Comes First
• Listen for ‘I’ or ‘We’

Communication Comes First

Now let me make it clear, there is no substitute for communication. There is no mind reading app or training we can do. Learning to communicate well, sitting down and talking, is the only way to be on the same page, make a relationship good, and a good relationship great. (Read Dating Someone? Commitment Assumptions Can Cause Cracks)

Sitting down and having that (sometimes ‘awkward’) conversation about how you feel can help you both be clear about where you see the relationship going. And be respectful towards each other and not lead each other on.

But what happens if both, or one of you, is still not sure? Well, one tip is to listen to the language used when talking about the relationship.

Is It ‘I’ Or ‘We’

This research that I came across suggests that people who are committed and comfortable in their relationship use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’. This reveals that they see themselves and the person their dating as a single unit.

It shows that the person is seeing themselves as being part of a single unit

So they will say ‘The relationship is going well, we’re both enjoying it’ rather than ‘She/He seems happy and I’m enjoying it too’. Or will say things like ‘We enjoy spending time together’ instead of ‘I  like spending time with her’.

To some of us this is obvious, to some of us this may seem new. But the reason it’s important is because using words like ‘we’ and ‘us’, without realising it shows that the person is seeing themselves as being part of a single unit. Or ‘cognitively intertwined’ is the technical term (who knew). Which shows high levels of commitment.

Don’t Dump Them The Next Time They Say ‘Me’

This is obviously not a golden rule. They may be saying ‘you and me’ for a valid reason. To give an obvious example, they may say something like ‘She enjoyed the film but I didn’t’.

But this will hopefully help us think about how we describe and discuss our relationship. What words do you use when you talk to your friends about it? It may reveal more than you think.

Imagine If…

The next time you, or someone you know, are unsure about their new relationships, pay close attention to the words they use. It may help them decide whether to commit or be open and honest about ending it. (Read What Do You Do If You’re The One Who Got Dumped?). 

Do you think people find it easier or harder to know if they want to commit? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 15/3/2017