These are three predictors of a happy relationship

Yes, things like a negative self-image, insecure attachment, or incredibly annoying character traits can be a deal breaker in a relationship. But it is not necessary. These things predict whether you will have a happy relationship.

Predictor 1: Satisfaction with your relationship

Do you appreciate your partner, are you satisfied with your sex life, do you believe that your partner is satisfied with your relationship and does not argue too much? Then individual risk factors can mean little, was the conclusion of a large study from 2020.

An impressively large group of 86 relationship researchers from various Western countries. They combined data from more than 11,000 couples who had been asked several times over time about personal characteristics and their individual satisfaction with the relationship with the other. In it, a positive outlook on your relationship was found to be the strongest predictor of love happiness.

In an interview in the Volkskrant, Esther Kluwer, specially appointed professor of sustainable relationships at Radboud University and one of the researchers involved in the study, summed up the study aptly: ‘Individual differences fade into the background if the relationship is good.’

Predictor 2: feeling good about how your partner feels

Especially if you recognize emotions such as shame and guilt well, the chance of a good relationship is greater. And if your bubbling anger feels good? Maybe it’s also quite practical, because then you know when to get out of the way, but it doesn’t have a clear effect on the quality of your relationship.

Researchers from the University of Rochester (US) and the University of Toronto (Canada) concluded this in a 2020 study. 111 couples of different ages had a conversation about things they would like to change together, after which they filled out a questionnaire about their own feelings and of their partners.

Don’t expect your partner to change. Respondents had no intention of doing anything about the annoying trait or habit their partner picked up on, no matter how well they read their emotions.

Predictor 3: self-control

People differ in the degree to which they can control temptations, such as a hunk or a beautiful lady flirting with you. Everyone’s reward system in the brain can become overactive at such a moment, this is completely normal. It is about whether you can quickly suppress that impulse again.

Tila Pronk, a psychologist at Tilburg University, spoke in a presentation at the University of the Netherlands about an experiment in which male students did a general impulse control test with a girlfriend. Then they supposedly had to sit in the waiting room for a while, while the experiment actually continued. There was a beautiful female ‘test subject’ who was involved in the research. On video recordings, the researchers could observe that many engaged men began to flirt with her. One of them even asked for her number while his girlfriend was waiting for him outside.

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Men who scored lower on the self-control test also flirted more. This does not only apply to men, by the way. ‘Women also need that impulse control to stay faithful to their partner’, the researchers observed in other studies.

If you are in a relationship and look at a beautiful person, according to Pronk, not only the reward areas in the brain become active, but also the control areas you call yourself in order with. ‘When these control areas are activated, the reward areas automatically become less active. So if you’re in a relationship, you feel less reward from looking at beautiful people. This effect is much stronger for people who are also very happy with their partner.’ In this way, relationship quality can also affect your impulse control.

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