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The promise all men break (and why you shouldn’t sweat it)

Few things suck more than a broken promise. It’s virtually impossible to feel secure in a relationship with someone who says he’ll do something and never follows through. Insecurity leads to doubt, which leads to distrust, which leads to resentment. Broken promises are evil, and it’s important to guard your relationship (and sanity) against the spiral they can create — especially when big promises don’t become reality. So what’s the promise all men break? Drum roll please…

“The most common promise that gets broken is, ‘I’ll always love you,’ and what that promise implies,” says relationship expert April Masini, and the reason behind the broken promise depends on the guy. “Some men use it to leverage sex that’s meant to be an end in itself, not the beginning of a love story, and other men mean it at the time, but as we all know, love can fade — and it does. What happens when that love fades — or leaves — is relationship-defining.”

It’s kind of like in It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey tells the love of his life that he’ll “lasso the moon for her.” He lets his emotions get the best of him and makes an overly ambitious promise — one he of course can’t keep. Does that mean his love for her is a lie? Of course not. But seriously, how does someone promise something so authentically in the moment and then completely forget about it the next day?

Leading with your feelings instead of your ability to follow through isn’t just a guy thing: It’s an everyone thing. Ironically, the more he feels for you and the more he verbalizes those feelings, the more likely he is to over-promise and under-deliver — not to mention put the relationship in constant jeopardy. The only one who can stop this spiral is you.

Here’s how to reframe the experience so you’re not in a constant state of WTF:

1. Look past your guy’s actions and focus on his intentions

“Reframing the experience is very important,” says Masini. “You can’t feel that you’re the only one on the receiving end of a broken promise if you want to succeed in life. You have to find perspective. And if you’re really evolved, you’ll have empathy for the guy who broke the promise and an understanding of why he did.”

Ultimately, what you do with your new sense of understanding is up to you: You’ll either make it work with your beau or decide to find someone whose ability to follow through on promises parallels your own.

2. Focus on his spontaneous acts of love

Feelings of love for someone are best experienced in the moment, and are the best indicator of how he feels about you — not some random verbal contract you’re trying to hold him to from when he was caught up in the moment. If you want a sense of how he really feels, take note of the little things: The small, spontaneous things he does that don’t require much forethought. Actions will always speak louder than words.

3. Don’t call them promises, but possibilities

Basically, don’t set yourself up for failure. Life is fleeting. Things happen. People change. Look forward to the possibility of him loving you forever, and appreciate each day you’re in the relationship. Let him knock your socks off in his own way and on his own time instead of expecting a point form list of hows, whens and deadlines.

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