A Study of 11,000 Couples Pinpoints Exactly What Makes a Relationship Successful

Many of us go through romantic relationships looking for the perfect one. The thing is: the quality of the relationship is subjective. What we do know is that bad relationships have negative outcomes like poor physical health, depression, and lost work productivity, but sometimes we cannot pinpoint what makes a good one. The good news is, scientists have found out which are the most important characteristics of a successful one.

At Bright Side, we are all about building healthy, happy relationships and we were amazed by the findings of this study. To understand which important characteristics scientists listed as the exact ones we need for a good relationship, keep on reading.

There are reasons why some romantic relationships thrive more than others.

Although it is difficult to understand what makes a relationship last, scientists have long before studied what makes them successful. Psychologist John Gottman conducted various experiments in what he called the “Love Lab.” Based on his conclusions, he categorized the couples into “masters” and “disasters.” He then observed which were the common traits of the “masters” (the ones who had long-lasting relationships) and the “disasters” (the ones who got divorced or were unhappy).

What he concluded was that the “masters” couples were appreciative toward one another and built an environment of respect and kindness. Feeling validated, cared for, understood, and sharing moments of joy plays great importance in making couples feel connected and stay true to each other. But there are other proven traits that make a relationship last.

The most important qualities of long-lasting relationships

A very interesting study analyzed 11,196 couples for about one year and collected data that aimed to predict the quality of the relationships. They measured age, personality traits, gender, and income. After all, these were the characteristics that best predicted if a partner would be happy in a relationship.

  1. Perceived partner commitment: as in “My partner wants our relationship to last forever.
  2. Appreciation: as in “I feel very lucky to have my partner in my life.
  3. Satisfaction in an intimate relationship: as in, the partners feel happy with their intimacy.
  4. Perceived partner satisfaction: as in “Our relationship makes my partner very happy.
  5. Conflict: as in “How often do you have fights with your partner?”

These traits indicate that both partners are invested, have similar objectives, and feel trust, love, and passion in an intimate, romantic relationship.

And these are the individual factors and risks that if overcome will lead to relationship satisfaction:

Following are a few traits based on a partner’s feelings toward their relationship. They include:

  1. Life satisfaction: as in “The conditions of my life are excellent.
  2. Negative affect: as in feeling distressed or irritable.
  3. Depression: as in feelings of hopelessness.
  4. Attachment anxiety: as in “I worry a lot about my relationships with others.
  5. Attachment avoidance: as in “I prefer not to be too close to romantic partners.

That means that those were the feelings that mattered more in a relationship. Some are good and some are not. Overall, the sum of the positive feelings should outweigh the negative ones and build a happy, long-lasting relationship. Interestingly, the partner’s personality, race, education, or the way the other partner perceived the relationship, seemed to not matter much.

After all, what makes a good relationship is being satisfied and appreciative.

What this means is that a long-lasting relationship goes beyond what we are usually taught: the illusion of finding the perfect partner. What the study actually proves is that the quality of a relationship is based primarily on how satisfied and appreciative you are toward one another — and personality matters very little.

According to the author of the study, scientist Samantha Joel, building a partnership is more important than the actual partner you pick — and that leads to a satisfying relationship. For all of us, the advice is: don’t focus so much on a type of person, but on engaging with each other and both of your satisfaction.

When it comes to a good relationship, what do you think is the most important trait? What is the trait you appreciate the most about your partner? If you are single, what do you think would make you most satisfied in a relationship?

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