This Is Where Relationship Happiness Comes From

A new study shows your relationship satisfaction may have less to do with your partner matching a bunch of ideal traits off a checklist, and more from them being the best one available. Researchers from University of Texas Austin looked at a group of 119 women and 140 men, who had been in relationships for an average of 6.5 years. Each participant rated a group of traits in terms of importance and how they felt their partner (and themselves) measured up on those traits. The interesting finding was that relationship satisfaction was not dependent on how someone's partner compared with their idea of the perfect partner, but rather whether other people in the mating pool better matched a person's ideal preferences, says Science Daily.

Not only that, in a follow up study, they found that those with "partners difficult to replace, either because their partner was more desirable than themselves or their partner more closely matched their ideal preferences than others in the group, reported being happier and devoted more effort to mate retention." So not only does it make us happier in our relationship in the first place, it makes it more likely that we'll work hard to keep our relationship strong.

It's an interesting take on how we normally think of relationship satisfaction. Study author Daniel Conroy-Beam, explained we don't need ideal partners to be happy with our relationship, but rather, we may be satisfied with our relationship when we get the best partner available.

But it also means that feeling like we're not with the most desirable partner available can be destructive."I have seen time and time again that people fall for someone outside of their ideal type and remain in a contented relationship with that person," Matchmaker and dating coach Karenna Alexander tells Bustle. "It's good to be somewhat open when dating and not reject someone because they simply don't have a quality on the list. It does make sense, however, that if your partner is lacking in a lot of these qualities — say financial security and intelligence — but the guy next door seems to have those qualities and more, that you will be dissatisfied."

It's good news that you don't have to find someone who check all your boxes, but relationship comparisons, even subconscious ones, are dangerous. Try to do your best to remember why you're with your partner, and spend more time thinking about that then sizing up the competition. Nobody's perfect, so as soon as you start comparing, you're bound to find areas where your partner doesn't measure up. There are so many better ways to spend your energy.

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