The Power of Pleasure

How the science of satisfaction can improve your sex life and your relationship

Your Three Wishes for Lasting (Happy) Love

When looking for long-term happiness, you get three wishes for an ideal partner.

With all of the research that has been conducted on attraction, finding a mate, and predictions of long-term happiness in love, it seems unlikely to adequately narrow the empirical findings down to just three wishes. Somehow, Ty Tashiro, Ph.D. has done it in his new book, The Science of Happily Ever After. His book centers around the idea of needing to narrow to three wishes for a partner in finding long-term love, and teaches you how to be wise with what you choose. I just finished reading this book, and some of what I share with you here is based on what I learned while reading.

Finding a long-term mate was, not so long ago, a task that involved arrangements by parents or limitations of your geographical region. Times have changed, and with online dating, social networking, and a world made smaller with video chats and facetime, it is easier than ever to be overwhelmed with mate chocies. 

Fear not! Based on the research, Tashiro figured you get three wishes to spend on picking an ideal partner. Here are three considerations as you fulfill three wishes when it comes to long-term happiness in love:

  1. Focus on Traits. Traits improve the ability to predict future behavior. Traits are fairly stable over time, and once you begin to learn someone's true traits, you'll begin to learn how they might behave in certain situations. This is pretty important in a long-term mate. 

  2. Remain Realistic. If you're going to choose traits to focus on in a future mate, you need to think about the statistics of having certain traits over others. For example, if you want a male mate who is taller than 6', you're narrowing your pool down to only 20 percent of the original pool. Wasting one of your three wishes on height might be too limiting. You should be thoughtful about what traits are above average in your three wishes. If you're choosing intelligence as an important trait, choosing someone who is bright narrows your pool down to only 14 percent; very bright narrows down to less than five percent. You can see how small the pool would be if you wanted someone who was both taller than 6' and bright. So it is important to choose wisely.
     
  3. Play Out the Odds. If you want someone in the top 5th percentile on height, income, and attractiveness, your odds become 1 in 10,000 people. However, if you look for someone in the 30th percentile on those three traits, your odds become 3 in 100 people; a much better outlook. As un-romantic odds are when thinking about love, keeping the odds in mind when choosing your three wishes will help to ensure unrealistic expectations don't get in the way of long-lasting happiness in love.    

Based on previous relationship experiences, you can usually look back at what went wrong and prioritize the traits that you might actually need in a partner, rather than simply want. Once you figure out those important traits, remain realistic about what to expect in one person, and play out the odds of getting what you need. Adjust as necessary. Repeat.

Sounds a little too calculating, doesn't it? I tend to agree, and do think that although all of these calculations are probably important, it might be wise to allow your heart to sneak into your head a little bit here and there. Afterall, what's love without a little heart?      

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH, is a sex and relationships researcher and assistant professor at University of Kentucky and a managing editor at Good in Bed.

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