The quest for love and a lasting relationship is one that many Americans find themselves navigating, from the awkward first dates to the petty disagreements years later. However, are you really prepared to give your relationship it’s best shot?
While there’s no guarantee that any one relationship is going to be happy and successful, understanding some of the trends in our society can help you to predict where your current connection is headed and whether there are steps you can take to improve your odds. The truth is that relationships are a lot of work, and we have to be willing to invest the time and energy if we want to make it last. Do you fight too much, or not fight enough? Are there habits either of you currently engage in that could be threatening your long-term happiness?
Here are 7 surprising statistics about love, romance, and ‘happy’ couples:
#1 – Healthy relationships mean you’re going to fight, sometimes a lot.
The act of fighting in a relationship is often misunderstood. Contrary to the common belief that something must be ‘wrong’ if you are fighting regularly, a Florida State University study revealed that the couples that report being happiest are those that having ‘angry but honest’ conversations. This is an important step in working through disagreements or discovering what our partners either needs or doesn’t appreciate in a relationship.
#2 – Social media is driving a wedge in our relationships, especially if it’s one-sided.
We’ve all seen that couple, out for a romantic dinner but unable to look past their phones long enough to actually see one another. Relationship experts warn that we, as a society, are allowing technology to drive a wedge between our relationships. In fact, therapists at the organization Relationships Ireland report that as many as 80% of the relationships they are working to save involve at least some level of concern with a partner’s overuse of technology.
#3 – An early hook up may hurt your chances of a lasting connection.
There is nothing wrong with a one-night stand or a casual fling, however, if you’re looking to find a solid, lasting relationship then researchers say you may want to avoid having sex too soon. A study conducted by Cornell University analyzed data from nearly 600 married or cohabitating couples, comparing their happiness at various stages of the relationship. They found that those who waited at least a month to have sex reported a higher level of happiness later in the relationship than those who rushed into being sexual early on.
#4 – Cheating surprisingly does NOT mean an unfulfilling relationship.
Most people would assume if their spouse is looking for a little something extra outside of their relationship that this is an indication that they aren’t happy or feel like there is something missing. However, according to a study by Rutgers University, this isn’t necessarily the case. Interested in better understanding the reason why people are unfaithful, they asked married men who had admitted to having an affair about the state of their marriage. Of these men, 56% reported that they were largely satisfied and ‘not looking for a way out’, viewing their marriage as happy.
#5 – Research shows that you may have actually fallen in ‘love at first sight’ after all.
There’s been a lot of debate whether ‘love at first sight’ is real, or just a fairy tale, but research suggests that there is actually some truth to this phenomenon. Brain scans show that when participants looked at a potential partner it would take approximately one-fifth of a second to react, and when they liked what they saw the brain would respond by producing chemicals associated with love and happiness including oxytocin and dopamine. This indicates that, if you’re looking at the right person, the brain can decide in one-fifth of a second that it’s in love.
#6 – Childless couples statistically put more time into working on their relationships.
A research team from Open University in England analyzed responses to a survey questionnaire from nearly 4500 participants, comparing the current stage of their relationship with how they would rate their happiness at this time. The team found that couples without children reported being happier with their relationship as well as a higher level of happiness with life as a whole. This isn’t to say you can’t be happy with children, but the data showed that those who didn’t have children were happier together.
#7 – Men and women are both equally as likely to cheat on their partner.
While we stereotypically view men as the bigger risk when talking about infidelity in our relationships, a study out of Indiana University revealed that it isn’t nearly that one-sided. In fact, men and women are equally as likely to cheat on their partners, the difference is why they are cheating and how they go about doing it. While men are most likely looking for some physical fun, women are more likely to seek out an emotional connection, possibly not even progressing to a physical relationship. However, experts warn that both emotional and physical infidelity are damaging to a relationship.
Image via Lady-Blueberry On Deviant Art