Whether you’re finding a potential partner by scrolling right into an app, or beating piles of biodata from an Netflix “Indian Matchmaking”, there may be some wisdom for you in the researchers’ findings.
Scientists have sought to understand what makes a good relationship for decades. But most of those studies measured only a few variables at a time, said Samantha Joel, lead author of the study. and an assistant professor at West University Ontario in London, told CNN.
Joel and her colleagues analyzed information on more than 11,000 couples, drawn from 43 datasets that tracked those partnerships over an average of one year, to determine the extent to which they could predict the quality of the relationship and what measures would best predict that
What they found is that your judgment of your relationship ̵1; that is, how satisfied your partner feels or how appreciative you are of your partner – says more about the quality of your relationship than any of your personalities.
“When it comes to a satisfying relationship, the partnership you build is more important than the partner you choose,” Joel wrote in an email to CNN.
In other words, do not focus so much on whether one person fits your type or whether he controls all your boxes. Instead, think about how you are engaging with each other and whether your relationship leaves you feeling satisfied.
Seedling makes a good relationship
And as it turns out, some measures can predict with more certainty the quality of a relationship than others.
The researchers assessed the quality of the relationship by looking at individual characteristics, including age, gender, income, and personality traits, and the characteristics of the relationship itself, meaning love, conflict, support, and so on.
A person’s self-perception of their relationship accounts for about 45% of their actual satisfaction from their relationship at the beginning of a study, and about 18% by the end of the study.
Specifically, the characteristics of relationships that best predicted a person’s satisfaction were:
- Perceived partner engagement
- Sexual pleasure
- Perceived partner satisfaction
A person’s individual characteristics, meanwhile, explained about 21% of their satisfaction with their relationship at the beginning of the study, and about 12% by the end.
The individual characteristics that best predicted satisfaction in a person’s relationship were:
- Pleasure for life
- Affect negatively
- Avoiding connection
- Anxiety attached
Interestingly, their partner’s personality or their partner’s perception of the relationship seemed to matter relatively little, Joel said.
And while factors such as your personality or whether you experience depression or anxiety can greatly affect the quality of your relationship, building a relationship that you feel satisfied and secure with can go beyond those things, the study authors write.
“The fact that individual characteristics predicted relationship quality but did not provide any unique predictive power beyond relationship factors suggests that individual characteristics matter, but their effects on relationship quality are largely attributed to their effects on relationship dynamics,” Justin Lavner, a psychologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email to CNN.
However, what the researchers were unable to determine was how the quality of a relationship could change over time.
The study also relied on self-reporting by participants to reach those conclusions, and Joel said future research should explore whether the results would be different if those characteristics were measured through observational or physiological studies, and whether the findings apply to couples outside the west.
Lavner added that it would be helpful to know how many external factors, such as financial strain or external stress, affect the quality of a relationship.
What this means for your dating life
There are some breaks here to apply to your life, experts said.
For one, pay attention to the dynamics of your relationship.
“It seems to me that the relationship is more than the sum of its parts,” Joel said. “It is the dynamic relationship itself, rather than the individuals that make up the relationship, that seems to be most important to the quality of the relationship.”
It is also worth paying attention to your current feelings about the relationship.
“Another receiving message is that although these perceptions were more predictive of the quality of relationships measured at the same point in time, the same pattern was found in the sequel,” Lavner said, suggesting that the way you feel now may be somewhat diagnostic of how you will feel later “