- When it comes to a satisfying relationship, the partnership you build is more important than the partner you pick.
- Paying regular attention to the condition of your relationship through daily check-ins with each other is a good start.
A study that explores the question of what makes a relationship successful was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study was led by Samantha Joel, an assistant professor at Western University in London, Ontario. This of course is not the first study of its kind. Researchers and social scientists have been asking this question for decades, and it’s been a question that has intrigued ordinary folks, particularly those who recognize that the cornerstone of a fulfilling life has to do with having healthy relationships. Although the study focused primarily on committed partnerships in couple relationships, the findings apply to other relationships as well.
The researchers analyzed over 11,000 couples and tracked each of them for an average of a year in an effort to determine the extent to which they could predict the quality of relationships and what measures would best predict that.
What they found: your subjective judgment or your level of satisfaction as well as your perception of your partner’s level of satisfaction with the relationship says more about the quality of the relationship than either of your personalities. This news should be a wake-up call to those of us who are attached to the belief that “if only my partner (or I) were different, our relationship would be better.” Who hasn't had this thought? As many of us have learned the hard way, efforts to change people through various forms of manipulation and coercion will not improve our relationships.
Focusing on whether or not someone may be good long-term material as a life partner has less to do with them checking all the right relationship boxes that it has to do with “how you’re engaging with each other and whether your relationship leaves you feeling satisfied.”
The study also found that the relationship characteristics that best predicted a personal level of satisfaction were:
- Perceived partner commitment
- Sexual satisfaction
- Perceived partner satisfaction
- Ability to effectively manage conflict
The individual characteristics that best predicted a person’s relationship satisfaction had to do with:
What are the implications and possible takeaways from this study? One is the need to pay regular attention to the condition of your relationship. Daily check-ins with each other are a good start. They need not be lengthy. Sometimes 5-10 minutes can be enough. At other times, more lengthy or frequent check-ins may be called for.
Does the dynamic between the two of us generally promote feelings of goodwill, mutual trust, ease, safety, appreciation, and support?
The question that you may have after completing your own relationship assessment is: “Okay, now what?” Knowing how to up-level the quality of your relationship can be one of the most valuable skills that you can ever possess. Mastering this ability, however, can be challenging because old habits don’t die easily. Yet, cultivating greater skillfulness in this area is possible for all of us, regardless of our past relationship experience. If you’re willing to challenge your belief that it’s too late or that you’re the exception to that rule, give us a call. You might end up being pleasantly surprised.
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