What elements make a pair persevere?
Sure, your significant other's stellar personality reeled you in, but it won't necessarily keep you close. A meta-analysis in Personal Relationships found that the relational aspects that predict longevity aren't necessarily the ones you'd expect. Here's how six factors stack up in the tricky business of keeping couples together.—Lauren Gerber
Dr. Lauren is a recognized child and family psychology expert and educator. She is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at Lynn University in their Counseling and Applied Psychology graduate department. Dr. Gerber was the Director of a Center for Autism here in Florida before transitioning into full time private practice.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
Those who think about their relationships long-term and feel obligated to their partners tend to stay together. "If you want it to persist, it will," says Haverford College researcher Ben Le.
Many couples create overly optimistic beliefs that they're more likely to stay together than other couples. Over time, these cheery notions help minimize negative aspects of their relationship.
Social network support
The extent to which friends and family approve of a relationship influences its durability; loved ones might reiterate what they hear firsthand about the relationship, or they could have a clearer read on the relationship than the lovebirds do.
How much you like being with your partner is not a strikingly strong predictor. "People break up for reasons other than dissatisfaction,"
Le points out. "A job could take you away from your significant other, or you could be perfectly happy with your partner—until someone better comes along."
How much you put into a relationship that you can't recover, from a shared home to time and emotion, to a sweatshirt left in a dorm, abets staying together.
The Big Five
Of the five personality traits, not one was associated with breakups. "These traits are defined broadly across time, while a breakup is about a certain type of behavior at a specific point," Le explains. Put it this way: Even a person with a sky-high agreeableness score may be anything but affable shortly before a split.
How do you know when somebody's checking you out? Researchers assumed gaze perception was a simple geometry problem: We notice the irises and whites of people's eyes and calculate who's looking our way. But it turns out gaze perception is affected by another cue: You'll spot an ogler much more quickly if he or she has an especially masculine or feminine face, according to a new study in Psychological Science. There may be an evolutionary advantage to noticing when an attractive prospect is looking at you, stat—you can catch his or her eye before someone else does. Look up!