How to Get Your Boyfriend to Keep His Promises

You want promises you can rely on.
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Breaking promises causes problems in relationships when one partner decides the other isn’t trustworthy. If your boyfriend has trouble keeping his promises, you will begin to think that his word lacks value, according to Michelle Gielan, who has a master’s degree in applied positive psychology, in a “Psychology Today" article, “Why Keeping Your Promise is Good for YOU.” Helping your boyfriend keep his promises can benefit your relationship and many areas of his life, too.

1 The Value of His Word

People who keep their promises are considered reliable and responsible. This is true in all facets of life -- in relationships and in careers. Point out that chronically breaking promises will convince others that he isn’t dependable. Your boyfriend should understand that not keeping his word demonstrates a lack of respect for himself. Additionally, it can hurt his self-image and self-esteem, according to Gielan. Ask him to consider the long-term effects of having a reputation for being untrustworthy and irresponsible.

2 Your Feelings

Many people make promises because they think the promise will make someone happy. Explain that his promises do not make you happy because you doubt that he will carry them out. Clarify that when he breaks a promise, his actions make you feel devalued, unimportant to him and angry because he has let you down again. Turn the tables and ask him how he would feel if you made promises you didn’t keep. Ask him to consider your feelings before he promises something that he might not be able to deliver on.

3 Effective Promise-Making Strategies

Promises should be realistic with a specific outcome and definable result, according to life coach Dave Ellis in his book “Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams.” When your boyfriend makes a promise, ask him if he can realistically carry through on the promise and how you will know if he does. Explain the consequences for breaking the promise, such as refusing to date him if he breaks another date or allowing him to find his own way to work or school if he isn’t ready when you arrive to pick him up. Remind him that you want advance warning if a conflict comes up so you can make alternative arrangements if you are depending on him for something important.

4 There's an App for That

If he carries a smart phone, you might suggest he invest in an app to help him become a promise-keeper. There are various apps he can try, depending on which phone or tablet he uses. PromiseUP turns promise-keeping into a game where he earns or loses points, depending on whether he keeps his promise or not. Promise Keeper is an Android app that received a five-star rating. I Promise! works on the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad, but has received poor ratings.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.