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5 factors that predict the success of relationships (and why love is not one of them)


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The heart may have reasons that reason does not understand, but that has not stopped scientists from trying to find the secret of happiness in relationships.

And thanks to the help of artificial intelligence, an international team of 85 researchers believes they have identified the main factors behind a satisfying relationship.

The study – the largest of its kind to date – used machine learning algorithms to analyze the cases of nearly 12,000 pairs contained in 43 databases from 29 different laboratories.

“Basically we analyzed all the information we could find on the subject,” he told BBC Mundo. Paul W. Eastwick, professor of psychology at the University of California (USA) and one of the coordinators of the research.

And one of its main conclusions is that the characteristics individual They are not as decisive in predicting the success of a relationship as the judgments one makes about it.

In fact, according to the study, there is nothing more important to the success of a relationship than the conviction of that the other member of the couple is engaged with the same.

Another important predictor is the level of intimacy: in Eastwick’s words, “that feeling that your partner understands you and really understands who you are.”

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And among the top five “Relationship-specific predictors” There is also the level of gratitude or recognition, one’s own sexual satisfaction and the perception of satisfaction with the relationship that the other member of the couple has.

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Interestingly, love is not in the “top 5” of success factors.

“People’s own judgments about the relationship itself, such as how satisfied and committed their partners felt they were, or how grateful they felt toward them, roughly explained 45% of your satisfaction“Is the summary of the main findings of the study published in the August issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PNAS.

In contrast, individual differences only accounted for 21% of the satisfaction in the relationships analyzed.

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Distal factor

“Individual predictors have to do with what you think about yourself and, in principle, they are independent of any relationship; for example, what we usually call personality or the abstract ideas that one may have about how they would like their romantic partner to be, “explains Eastwick.


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What you think of yourself is not as important as what you think of the other.

“In contrast, relationship-specific predictors are constructs that require us to think about a particular person, usually our partner: this is a person I can trust, someone I love, someone who appreciates me… And they have two or three times more impact when it comes to predicting how satisfied you are with the relationship than individual differences, ”he told BBC Mundo.

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This does not mean that the individual differences – which include among their main predictors life satisfaction, negativity, depression, and attachment problems– do not play a role in the happiness of a couple.

But, as Eastwick explains, they do it above all by mediating one’s own experience and conditioning the judgment that one can make of the relationship, which is what ends up being important.

“For example, if I am a misanthrope then the chances are that I do not trust people and therefore I can’t be happy in my relationship, ”illustrates the professor at the University of California at Davis.

But for the success of the relationship the key factor is not so much misanthropy, which would be a distal factor, as trust, an important predictor that, as loveIt did not reach the “top 5” but did reach the “top 10” in terms of importance.

Was that relatively low ranking a surprise to the researchers?


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Love is what you are looking for.

“Love actually did very well, what happens is that it is something so close to satisfaction, to what we were trying to predict, that in many cases we did not even include it as a candidate,” explains Eastwick.

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“In other words, it’s not that it doesn’t matter, it’s that it’s essentially what we were looking for“, He tells BBC Mundo.

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And the psychologist also insists that the fact that the study speaks of “predictors” does not mean that they feel capable of predicting the future.

“We are not fortune tellers,” he says. “But the aspects of relationships that we highlight are things one can work on and improve and thus improve their relationship in the present ”, he concludes.

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