No one wants to waste their time when it comes to relationships. That's why so many of us look out for red flags and relationship dealbreakers in the early stages of dating. Finding any sort of indicators that can predict that it won't work earlier on, can make it easier to end it sooner. So what can predict whether your relationship will last or not?
First and foremost, it's important to remember that relationships aren't all fun and good times. "All relationships are work," Jessica Bunevacz, Relationship Coach tells Bustle. "Even when it's fun, it's work."
There are some obvious things that can predict relationship success, says Bunevacz, including how committed you are to each other (e.g. Do you make it a point to make plans with each other?), how you handle troubled times together (e.g. What did your partner do for you when you went through a tough time?), and how compatible you are (e.g. What activities do you enjoy together?). But these are all pretty much a given and you're probably super familiar with these by now. So here are some less obvious and more interesting things that can predict whether or not your relationship will last:
1How You Express Jealousy
Jealousy is typically associated with toxicity in relationships. But it's totally OK to feel jealousy in your relationship if you handle it in a healthy way. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Western Communication even found that jealousy is linked to positive relationship outcomes because it has a way of making people commit.
"While knee-jerk reactions to jealousy certainly do not contribute to relationship longevity, accepting that feeling threatened in an important romantic relationship is normal and inevitable," Sex and Relationship therapist, Mary Fisher, CMHC tells Bustle. "It can even help you navigate those feelings together."
2This Six Question Quiz
How many times have you clicked on a quiz titled, "Will your relationship last?" just to see how it goes? Earlier this year, DataRobot, an AI firm based out of Boston, used actual data to create a relationship quiz that can help predict the likelihood of your relationship lasting. They analyzed data of over 4,000 people, which they pulled from a 2009 Stanford University study on American couples, and created a quiz of six questions based on certain factors known to predict relationship success. These questions are:
- How long have you and your partner been together?
- What is your relationship status?
- What's the age gap in your relationship?
- Describe the highest level of education attained.
- How many children between two and five years old live with you?
- On average, how many different relatives do you see each month?
According to the Stanford study, factors like age gaps, relationship status (e.g. married or not), and how close your are to your families can play a role in relationship success. While Greg Michaelson, the DataRobot Labs' director wrote in a blog post that it's "fun" and "based on solid science," they're neither relationship experts nor social scientists. So take this quiz for fun and see where your relationship stands among other couples.
3The Way You Talk To Your Partner
In 2015, researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the University of Utah created a computer program that can predict whether a relationship will succeed or not based on the tone of a couple's conversations. They analyzed hundreds of hours of couples therapy to check for things like pitch, intensity, and "acoustic warbles" that signal emotional reactions. They found that their program was 79 percent accurate in determining which couples would succeed and which ones would fail. They concluded that it's not just about the words you choose to use with your partner, but also how you say it. "Happy couples aren't thrilled with each other all the time," Licensed Psychologist, Stephanie M. Kriesberg, Psy.D, tells Bustle. "However, when they are upset with each other, they complain to their partners. They don't criticize them."
What's the difference? A complaint looks like this: "We agreed not to make plans with other people this weekend without checking in with each other first. I wanted to spend time together just you and me this weekend."
Criticism, on the other hand, looks like this: "I can't believe you did this again! You are so selfish. You never think about how I feel." This just screams angry and accusatory. So be sure to watch both your words and the way you say it.
4Your Sleeping Patterns
"Sleeping patterns can impact a relationship if the other person doesn't adapt," Sameera Sullivan, relationship expert and CEO of Lasting Connections tells Bustle. "If you're not going to bed together because one person is a morning person and the other a night owl, that could cause problems throughout the day." And science can back this up.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that something so simple like how you sleep can affect your relationship without you realizing it. People who got more sleep felt more satisfied about their relationship the next day.
5How You Were Raised
Family background and the way you were raised can also play a role in the current relationships you develop, Sullivan says. For instance, if you had a strict upbringing while your partner had a lax one, the chances of you having conflict will be higher. In the grand scheme of things, this happens because people who were raised completely differently view life in different ways. "This is something people don’t realize or understand which can make or break a relationship," she says.
6The Jelly Bean Test
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner came up with "The Jelly Bean Test" when she met her husband at 17. "That was the year Jelly Bellies came out," Trattner tells Bustle. "I lived in a small town where they were impossible to find. I was visiting my husband at college and happened to get my hands on a package. I was in heaven. I remember sitting across a study table with him with all the flavors lined up. I ate all flavors that I loved and my nice boyfriend at the time ate all the gross ones like toasted marshmallow and Mai Tai. This has become the “Jelly Bean Test” that is now notorious with all my daughter’s friends and patients."
Can your partner pass the test? Are they willing to give up nicer things for you or for the relationship? "People need to look for partners who are not only willing to share, but willing to sacrifice for their partner," she says. "I always talk to my patients about equanimity. Sometimes you have to make the sacrifice and sometimes your partner does."
Overall, your willingness to make your partner happy and vice versa are huge keys to relationship success.
7How You Split Household Chores
Chores? They're probably not the first thing you think of when you think of a successful relationship. But several studies in the past few years have found a correlation between household chores and relationship success. A 2013 UCLA study found that couples who had a system in place for how they did chores were much happier in their relationships than couples who didn't. A more recent 2016 study published in the The Journal of Marriage and Family found that couples who split household duties had more sex than those who didn't.
8Whether Your Friends Approve
While you shouldn't really care what others think about your relationship, it could actually help. A 2001 study by psychologists from Purdue University and Southern Methodist University found that people in love tend to predict that their relationship will last much longer than it actually will. Outsiders, like friends or others within a couple's social network, were found to be much more accurate in predicting whether or not a relationship will last.
Overall, nobody can know for sure whether or not a relationship will last. But being aware of some of these things can clue you in on where you're at.