Wondering What Makes a Successful Relationship? A New Study Says Your Overall Satisfaction Matters Most of All

Kelly Vaughan

Wondering What Makes a Successful Relationship? A New Study Says Your Overall Satisfaction


Turns out your personalities aren't necessarily a determining factor.

Whether you've been together for five months, five years, or five decades, every couple wants to find ways to make their relationship stronger and more successful. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed exactly what makes a relationship work. The research team analyzed information from more than 11,000 couples who provided a year's worth of data. They found that your overall happiness in a relationship—including how satisfied or appreciative you feel your partner is—is a greater indication of success than whether or not your personalities, style, or backgrounds are compatible.

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"When it comes to a satisfying relationship, the partnership you build is more important than the partner you pick," Samantha Joel, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at Western University in London Ontario, told CNN. If your partner doesn't initially check all the boxes, that doesn't mean your relationship isn't doomed; instead, focus on how that person makes you feel.

Related: Science Says Experiencing Love in Everyday Life Improves Your Mental Well-Being

Researchers assessed certain characteristics in the relationships they studied including age, income, gender, and personality traits, as well as the level of affection, comfort, and support in a relationship. They found that the five factors that are most likely to determine your success in a relationship include perceived partner commitment; appreciation; sexual satisfaction; perceived partner satisfaction; and conflict.

The individual characteristics that affected a person's satisfaction in a partnership include life satisfaction; negative affect; depression; attachment avoidance; and attachment anxiety. The team did not consider the impact of factors such as financial strain or external stress. "It seems to me that the relationship is more than the sum of its parts," Joel told CNN. "It's that relationship dynamic itself, rather than the individuals who make up the relationship, that seems to be most important for relationship quality."

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