Sliding vs. Deciding

On Oct. 16, Program Director Kristi Coop Gordon discussed the effects of  “sliding vs. deciding” on WTNZ Fox43, Knoxville, TN Morning Show with Moira Kaye and Abby Ham.  Begin by reading the blog by Scott Stanley below, then click on this link to learn more about the difference between the two, and the effects they can have on your relationship. http://slidingvsdeciding.blogspot.com/

Scott Stanley, Ph.D.

A research professor who conducts studies on marriage and romantic relationships at the University of Denver. 

Why Sliding vs. Deciding?

This blog revolves around themes about the nature of commitment. Sliding vs. Deciding is a theme that comes out of my study of commitment dynamics in relationships. Based on my work—and that of my colleagues at the University of Denver (Galena Rhoades, Howard Markman, and others) and elsewhere, I believe this idea of “sliding vs. deciding” captures something important about how romantic relationships develop in this day and age.

The core idea is that people often slide through important transitions in relationships, such as starting to live together, rather than deciding what they are doing and what it means. For example, sociologists Wendy Manning and Pamela Smock conducted a qualitative study of cohabiting couples and found that over one half of couples who are living together didn’t talk about it but simply slid into doing so. In our large quantitative study of cohabitation, we have found that fully 2/3rds of the sample of cohabiters report a process more like sliding into cohabitation than talking about it and making a decision about it.

There used to be many steps and stages of courtship and relationship development that, for the most part, no longer exist. Does that mean it’s harder than ever to make clear commitments? I suspect so. In contrast to sliding, commitments that we are most likely to follow through on are based in decisions. In fact, one essential truth of commitment is that it means making a choice to give up other choices. A commitment is a decision.

Not all relationships are meant to be or meant to last. But for those relationships that are, the fundamentals of commitment suggest that thinking about what you are doing and where you are going–together–and making a decision, can build a stronger, more lasting commitment.

Do we always need to be making a decision about things? I hope not. But when something important in life is at stake, I believe that deciding will trump sliding in how things turn out. You could think of this concept as an upgrade on the popular idea of being “intentional” about choices and pathways. One does not need to make decisions about everything–and sliding can be just fine and even preferred at times. Do you want to analyze and agonize about everything? Hopefully not. Decisions matter most when it comes to things that are important, like where a relationship is headed or what matters most to you in how you live your life.

4 Responses to Sliding vs. Deciding

  1. Very true, It funny how people seem to spend a lot of time and energy arguing about or discussing the trivial, while they don’t take the time to sit down and talk about big changes or important events. Sliding Vs Deciding sums up the truth that most people just go through life reacting to things, they are generally in a cloud and react to things that manage to break through that cloud, something that is true in a lot of peoples . Thanks for your article. It was very informative.


  2. “Sliding vs. Deciding | Relationship Rx Program” honestly makes myself ponder a tiny bit more.
    I adored every individual element of this blog post.
    Thanks a lot ,Darnell


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