Finding someone you want to be in a relationship with is hard enough on its own, but the whole making a relationship work thing is a true test of one's nerves, patience, and more than anything, love. "All relationships are work," Relationship Coach, Jessica Bunevacz, tells Bustle. "Even when it's fun, it's work."
But despite all this work, because love is "life's greatest prize," according to Biological Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, people yearn to be in a relationship. In fact, research earlier this year taught us that —despite our reputation as commitment-phobes who just want to hook up — the majority of millennials want to be in relationships.
It's this desire to be in a relationship that has scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, and relationship experts poring over data, executing studies, and conducting surveys in the hopes of trying to get to the heart of relationships and, ideally, find out what really makes them happy, healthy, and long-lasting.
In 2017, studies and surveys taught us everything from how sleep affects relationships to what our top dealbreaker is to how meeting online affects the longevity relationship. Here are 13 things we learned about what makes relationships work in 2017, according to surveys and studies.
1. Most People Aspire To Be In A Relationship
A YouGov survey of over 2,000 Americans found that only 24 percent of millennials want to stay single and 45 percent of those 55 and older prefer being single to being in a relationship.
2. Political Differences Can End A Relationship
In one of the most tumultuous and scary political years in recent history, we learned that politics can destroy relationships. This is most especially true for millennials. An online study by Wakefield Research of 1,000 people, ages 18 and older, found that 11 percent had ended a relationship over political differences, with 22 percent of those relationship-ending people being millennials.
3. Friends Are Your Best Option For Relationship-Induced Stress
Anyone who’s been in a relationship, even a happy and healthy one, knows that they can be stressful AF. So how does one fix such a predicament? According to a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, people who have close relationships with friends and family have an easier time dealing with relationship-induced stress because they not only have people to whom they can vent, but just in knowing they have that support network eases their stress.
4. How Much You Sleep Affects Relationship Satisfaction
Anyone who hasn’t gotten enough sleep knows that trying to get through the day can be miserable AF. You’re cranky, you’re moody, you’re basically an angry bear and anyone who gets in your way is bound to feel your wrath. Well, not only does everyone who comes in contact with you suffer when you haven’t slept enough, but a study by Ohio State University found that how much you sleep affects your relationship, too — not that we should be totally surprised.
According to the results of the study, couples who sleep less than seven hours a night are the couples who have the worst, most vicious fights. If you and your partner are constantly at each other’s throats and you’re not sleeping enough, then it’s time to make bedtime far earlier than whatever it is now.
5. Most Relationships Actually Don’t Start Online
While dating online is the second most popular way to meet people, a study from earlier this year by ReportLinker, a tech company that analyzes data, found that 39 percent of people who are currently in relationships met their partner through friends. Rounding out the top three places where couples have met were at work (15 percent) and bars or “other public places" (12 percent). So if you’re looking to find yourself in a relationship in 2018, dating apps aren’t your only option.
6. A Lot Of People Are In Long-Distance Relationships
According to research by Google, the number one relationship-related question that was plugged into their search engine this past year was “how to make a long-distance relationship work?" Considering Google gets millions of questions plugged into their search engine every day, we can deduce that either a lot more people are in long-distance relationships than one would assume or millions of people are possibly thinking about getting into a long-distance relationship and want to know exactly how to make it, well, work.
7. Relationships That Start Online Have A Better Chance At A Long-Lasting Marriage
For those who are in a relationship with someone they met online and have their eyes set on walking down the aisle eventually, science says they're in luck. Research published in the journal Sociological Science found that heterosexual couples who meet online are more likely to get married quicker than those who didn’t meet online. And, if that isn’t exciting enough news for all those relationship-adoring folks out there, another study from October, published in the MIT Technology Review, found that marriages between couples who met online are stronger and have a greater success rate.
8. Drinking Coffee Can Help Your Relationship
Although any caffeine fiend can attest to the fact that coffee helps everything, a study published in the Journal of FamilyPsychology in April found that drinking coffee can have a positive impact on relationships. If one, or both partners, are sleep-deprived, drinking coffee in moderation can alleviate that deprivation. In doing so, it wipes the cranky sleeplessness from people, ups their energy, and — voila! — cuts down on petty arguments, helping them to see their relationship in a more positive light.
9. Some Relationships Are The Result Of "Love At First Sight"
A recent study published in Journal of the International Association for Relationship Research brought to light just how realistic people think “love at first sight” is. The study interviewed roughly 400 participants to get their insight on this topic and found that 32 people reported having fallen in love at first about 49 times. While researchers said love at first sight is likely just lust at first site, it still kinda warms the cold, icicle-laden heart, doesn’t it?
10. Keeping Your Emotions In Check Can Be Good For Some Relationships
Although it's completely healthy and normal to have emotions and express them, new research suggests that "emotion regulation" might be the best option for couples. While the concept of emotion regulation isn't new and is regarded as a "social and individual phenomenon," the study of 104 couples over a five-year span, ending in 2017, found that when couples were able to keep their emotions in check or handle them in a more productive manner, their relationship satisfaction went up.
Although this isn't to suggest that anyone should suppress their emotions, because that's far from the healthy, the study did contend that being aware of and accepting emotions, as opposed to letting them get out of hand, can have a very positive impact on a relationship.
11. Successful Relationships Require Little Gestures
According to Match's 2017 Singles in America, of the 5,000 people who were surveyed, it was the little stuff that proved to people their relationship was important and that their partner was fully committed. For example, 87 percent of the millennials who were surveyed cited that if their partner takes care of them when they’re sick, then they know their partner is in it to win it. I have to say that I totally agree, because when you're willing to deal with someone else's puke, that's true love right there.
12. Same-Sex Relationships Are The Happiest Relationships
In a big study from the University of Queensland of over 25,000 people in the UK and over 9,000 people in Australia, it was found that same-sex relationships are the happiest relationships. This probably explains why the kids of same-sex parents are so happy and healthy, too.
However, the same study found that bisexual people in relationships are the least happy.
13. The Biggest Relationship Dealbreaker Is Lack Of Trust
According to research from December, the biggest dealbreaker for people in relationships is lack of trust. This dealbreaker outweighs abuse, addiction, affairs, poor hygiene, bad sex — basically everything. While dealbreakers vary from person to person, for the most part, it's broken trust that can be the ultimate undoing of any relationship.
What will 2018 bring in regards to relationships? I guess we'll have to wait another year to find out. But in the meantime these 13 findings are worth noting.