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What Makes People Happy in a Romantic Relationship?

by Marianne Navada

In a recent study on relationship science, researchers compared hundreds of variables to assess the qualities that make some people thrive in relationships. Researchers found that people’s judgement of their partner explained most satisfaction levels. This means that how satisfied, appreciative, and committed one thinks their partner is, make up the bulk of one’s happiness level. A partner’s personality, on the other hand, had a smaller effect.

In short, our perception matters more than our partner’s individual characteristics, such as their life satisfaction, depression levels, and general outlook in life. 

The lesson for those in a romantic relationship and want one that allows them to thrive is to assess what exactly will provide this level of security for you. What do you think a person needs to do, to make you feel secure about their level of commitment to you? 

A Lesson from Kino MacGregor

What it means to feel that level of security from your partner varies. Traveling to Norway for work, Kino MacGregor recently received questions wondering if her “husband is OK with her traveling alone”. 

When I told Tim that people ask me if he is ok with me traveling alone, he laughed. We don’t have that kind of relationship. We both love each other and and cherish the time we spend together. But we are both independent people who enjoy our space. Now, I’m not saying anything against you if your relationship follows a logic other than ours, I’m just saying we are good with giving each other the space we need whether for work or mental health or just whatever.

Kino MacGregor

Kino and Tim Feldman have been married since 2008

Researchers found that people’s judgement of their partner explained most satisfaction levels. This means that how satisfied, appreciative, and committed one thinks their partner is, make up the bulk of happiness level. Your partner’s personality, on the other hand, had a smaller effect.

Finding a Partner

Finding love has become a research-intensive process, using a combination of science such as algorithms and personality-based apps. We also use rational-based tools. These tools contain information that we think matters in finding love, such as occupation, family background, or age. If you’ve ever Googled someone before deciding to go out with them, what information were you interested in finding out?

And if you have seen Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking, biodatas help narrow the pool, with information such as height, skin “fairness”, and ancestry. For all the flack the show is getting, one thing stands out. Whoever joins the matchmaking program are looking for the same relationship status: marriage.

We also rely on superstitious methods such as horoscope to weed out potential candidates. These tools give us peace of mind. Or at least make us feel as if we are in control and alleviate some risks.

In the end, how secure that person makes us feel dictates our level of happiness in that relationship. This study shows the need to communicate the doubts with your partner if there are any. Unfortunately, the ability to easily communicate how you feel about each other can’t be measured by someone’s looks or how much money they make.

The More You Know: About the Study

The authors used machine learning to analyze more than 11,000 couples, from 43 datasets. Couples were tracked for a year. Participants self-reported their answers. A person’s perception of their relationship explained 45% of relationship satisfaction in the beginning of the study and it went down to 18% towards the end. On the other hand, a person’s individual characteristics explained 21% of relationship satisfaction in the beginning, and 12% at the end of the study. 

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