Psychologists can predict which relationships will go the distance.
Two signs a relationship will last are that both partners have similar needs and similar levels of satisfaction at the start of the relationship.
For example, the relationships of people who have similar needs for closeness tend to last longer.
Those who have similar needs for maintaining a separate life tend to stay together longer.
People who start off having dissimilar needs, though, face a higher risk of splitting up later on.
The same is true where one partner is less satisfied than the other at the start.
In contrast, people who are equally satisfied with their relationship at the start tend to stay together.
The conclusions come from a study that examined how relationship development affected whether people would stay together in the long-term.
Dr Christine Finn, the study’s first author, said:
“Predictions as to the longevity of a relationship are definitely possible.
Right at the outset of a relationship, one can find typical features – that is to say certain prediction variables – that provide information on whether or not the relationship will be long-lasting.”
The study included 1,965 couples whose relationships were tracked for seven years.
Sixteen percent of couples broke up during the study period.
The researchers applied two models of relationship development in their work.
The first is based on the idea that people’s relationship problems develop during the relationship rather than being unchangeable from the very start.
The second model is based on the idea that people start at different levels of relationship satisfaction.
Dr Finn explained:
“We have now discovered that there is actually a combination of the two models.
We too can confirm that there are differing levels to begin with.
In addition, happiness declines in both groups.
However, in those who later separate, this happens significantly faster, meaning that a person who starts off unhappy becomes increasingly unhappy.”
Despite this, no relationship is doomed to fail right from the start, said Dr Finn:
“It is not our intention to further reinforce the general trend for optimisation and only to have a relationship that is result-oriented, with the prospect of it being long-lasting.
Even if couples split up after a time, it can still be a valuable and important phase in their lives, which might have a positive influence on the next relationship.
Furthermore, couples can also consciously influence and work on their mutual interests and on cultivating closeness as well as independence.”
The study was published in the journal Developmental Psychology (Finn et al., 2020).
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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
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