That he's great at romance but is slow to help with housework doesn't reflect his feelings for you.
In a new relationship, every kiss or cuddle is appreciated, cooed over, and dissected with girlfriends over brunch. But as time wears on, many of us begin to take small romantic gestures for granted, and instead focus on whether or not our partner is capable of ongoing thoughtful behavior.
Does he call back when he said he would? Does he do household chores without being nagged? Does he put the toilet seat down? And if he doesn't, why not?
"It's not that much effort!" we think. "Wouldn't he make it a priority to do those things if he really loved me?"
Apparently, in some cases, the answer is "No."
A recent study by psychologists Lara Kammrath and Johanna Peet suggests that your partner's long-term love behaviors may be entirely unrelated to how much love they feel for you. According to The Huffington Post, "In their studies, the researchers found that while feelings of love are quite good at predicting spontaneous, in-the-moment acts of kindness and generosity, they do a lousy job of predicting the more challenging, longer-term loving behaviors." Relationship Bad Habits: How To Break Them
Turns out that there are two distinct types of loving actions: short-term, spontaneous loving actions (like a quick kiss or thoughtful gesture) and longer-term loving actions that require ongoing effort (like doing chores regularly or getting along with that friend of yours he finds annoying). Kammrath and Peet distinguished long-term acts as those that require a greater degree of "self-regulatory challenge" from spontaneous acts in their research. They discovered that people who struggled with self-regulation were less likely to display longer-term loving actions, even when they were in the same amount of love as others who successfully displayed long-term love behaviors.
In one of Kammrath and Peet's studies, college students in committed relationships were asked to complete a survey that measured, among other things, feelings of love and intimacy. Upon completing it, the students were told that they would be able to visit a "candy lab" on campus and create a gift for their significant other.
Some students were told that they could come back the next day to create the gift, while others were told that they could return four days later. The researchers found that for the students who were asked to return one day later, the level of love and intimacy the students reported correlated to their likelihoods of returning to make the gift basket. Those less in love were less likely to come back. In the four-day group, however, the intensity of feelings appeared totally unrelated to whether or not the student would return to make the gift basket or not. Huh? Men More Forgetful Than Women
Instead, Kammrath and Peet's study found that the students whose scores indicated a high level of conscientiousness were likeliest to return four days later. Students who self-identified as "always prepared" and who indicated that they "paid attention to details," "followed a schedule," and "got chores done right away," consistently returned to make their significant others' gift baskets in greater numbers, regardless of their stated level of love and intimacy.
In other words, good news: the toilet-seat thing doesn't mean he loves you any less than the boyfriend who always remembered to put it down. If you're with a forgetful guy, at least you can reassure yourself that his frustrating behavior is a result of low conscientiousness, not a lack of love for you. And you might actually appreciate his spontaneous love gestures more easily once you realize that his difficulties with long-term love actions aren't related to his feelings of love or commitment.
On the other hand, that toilet seat still isn't going to flip itself.