What makes a happy relationship? Is it humor, physical attraction, or merely enjoying things together? What makes a relationship work? Do opposites attract or does like attract like? Science answers: It comes down to shared views, stable personalities, constructive arguments, a strong friendship, and most importantly – acceptance of each other, even in a pandemic.
Views and Interests
When meeting someone new, it can be helpful for there to be shared similar interests. Talking about traveling, sports, TV and movies, or music helps build a strong connection in the early stages of the relationship. When moving on to the next stage, it is more important to have similar worldviews and opinions that both can agree upon. For example, similar views on essential subjects such as the type of relationship, hobbies, politics, and children are crucial. However, less obvious issues, such as eating preferences, seem to be critical. Research shows that couples that have similar eating preferences and patterns appear to be three times more likely to have a happy relationship.
Opposites Attract/Like Attracts Like?
In terms of character traits, partners do not necessarily resemble each other, but conversely, they do not complement each other either. People do not seem to choose each other on personality traits. Partner choice is primarily the coincidental result of availability and attraction. However, personality traits do influence the relationship. For a lasting and happy relationship, one needs emotional stability, a healthy amount of self-confidence, and a certain extraversion. For example, a partner with low self-esteem might get jealous, and an introvert might have more difficulty showing emotions. Both partners have to be equally as comfortable in the relationship.
Six Factors to Success
1. Emotional Togetherness – Do you show affection and appreciation? Do you enjoy being with your partner? Do you have a sense of belonging?
Feeling “together,” expressing feelings, and showing love to each other is emotional togetherness – the glue of all relationships. The sense of togetherness can be stimulated by fantasizing about the future, supporting each other in difficult times, sharing desires and day-to-day activities.
2. Independence – Can each of you function autonomously? Can you give each other freedom? Do you not feel the need to change your partner?
Togetherness does not mean you have to do everything together. It is healthy to maintain an autonomous identity as an individual with one’s own hobbies, friends, and interests. Similarly, it is crucial to respect your partner’s identity, as well.
3. Positive identity – Are you sure of yourself and your choices? How much self-esteem do you have? Do you feel like you have something to offer to your partner?
If you feel good about yourself, the relationship has a better chance of success. Equality will develop. Jealousy and dependency will disappear. Having a positive identity makes you a better person and partner.
4. Conflict handling – Are you able to communicate with each other respectfully? Can you calmly discuss challenges with each other?
Differences between people are normal, and so are conflicts. It is not about how often you have arguments, but how you both deal with them. If you argue in the right way and respectfully, one can learn from another, potentially improving your relationship’s intimacy.
5. Sexuality – Are you satisfied with the sexual contact with your partner?
Sexuality is not just about the frequency. It is about enjoying it, knowing each other’s preferences, and the ability to talk about them.
6. Communication is Key – Success is mainly a matter of how partners communicate with each other. Arguing does not have to be a bad sign. Arguing is essential. When you disagree, you are exposing yourself. However, it is vital to do it the right way. Throwing plates or ignore one another is not the right way!
Whether you emphasize shared beliefs, stable personality traits, or communicating constructively, the ability to accept each other is crucial. Do not try to change your partner – it is impossible. Personality traits are challenging to change. As a couple, you can learn to deal with problems differently and learn to communicate effectively. Communication and acceptance of each other is usually the focus of couples’ therapy. Even in happy relationships, it might help to explore and get to know each other again through therapy. Your relationship is worth it!
Happy Valentine’s Day!