What's the secret to having a successful relationship? A 2013 study conducted by Robert Epstein of the University of the South Pacific Fiji found it all begins with you. Epstein created a model defining a set of seven basic skills you should already have as an individual in order to have a strong, happy, and fulfilling relationship. In a 2016 replication of the study, Epstein and colleagues found that out of the seven key factors that make a good relationship, two matter the most. Chances are you already know what they are. The seven basic skills are ones you should be pretty familiar with: Communication, Conflict resolution, Knowledge of Partner, Life Skills, Self-management, Sex and Romance, and Stress Management.
“From my experience in working with clients over the years, there is a specific basic skill that I have repeatedly found to be the most important one to master," Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist tells Bustle. "It actually impacts the quality of the other basic skills necessary for successful relationships.”
So, which is it? The study asked over 2,000 adults to complete a questionnaire assessing their strength in each skill and then asked them to self-rate their satisfaction with their partner. It was found those who scored high in “Communication” and “Knowledge of Partner” were the most satisfied with their partner and relationship.
But their research into the topic didn’t stop there. In 2016, Epstein and colleagues expanded their study globally, taking responses from over 25,000 adults from over 56 countries. Similar to the previous findings, Communication was found to be an important predictor of relationship success and Knowing Your Partner was almost just as equally important. "With good communication skills, partners are better able to express their feelings, thoughts, and needs in more productive and positive ways," Thomas says. "By having mastered good communication skills, the other basic skills often are improved as a result.
So here are the seven basic skills you need in order to have a successful relationship. If you find yourself needing help in any areas, here's some expert advice on how to strengthen those skills.