Most People Are Satisfied With "Settling" Rather Than Finding Their Soulmate, Study Says

Before you fling yourself into a pile of blankets because there is no point to living without the love of a soulmate, listen to the science. It's actually pretty uplifting, if you think about it. A recent study found that relationship fulfillment is not dependent on finding a perfect "soulmate," but rather, on finding the best possible partner option available to us. The study, published in Evolution & Human Behavior by researchers out of University of Texas and California State University, San Bernardino, surveyed 860 heterosexual couples to determine what brings people relationship satisfaction: mate preference fulfillment, or mate value discrepancies.

"Mate preference fulfillment" is basically the "soulmate" option. It tested relationship satisfaction based on how many needs a person's partner fulfilled for them, and how close to their "ideal mate" their partner was. "Mate value discrepancies," by contrast, refers to how satisfying a partner was perceived to be out of a person's potential dating options.

What the study found was that people who believed they were dating the best option available to them — even if that person didn't meet all their criteria for an "ideal partner" — were the most satisfied with their mates. Being the "best available option" had a two-part criterion: it meant both that a partner was a more desirable option to a person than all the other potential partners in their dating pool, and also that a partner was perceived as more desirable to a person than they perceived themselves to be.

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In other words, we are most often satisfied with partners who we think are both better than us and better than all the other Tinder matches in our phone. This makes sense if you think about it: even if you believe you're a better catch than the person you're dating, you're more likely to feel satisfied with dating them if you also believe they're the best option available to you.

And there's something to the idea that your ideal partner, the person who fits all your needs, doesn't actually exist. To some extent, they're made. When you have an awareness of what your needs are, and can effectively communicate to your partner how they can best meet them, you can essentially create a person who meets all your needs. It's up to partner, of course, to get on board with meeting them or not, but it's a much more hopeful way of looking at things. And, it puts a lot of more control of your relationship satisfaction back in your hands, rather than some fairytale idea of finding the one perfect person waiting for you out in the universe.

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