We know how a surprising amount of long-term relationships start, but now we're learning a little more about what happens after that: New research could indicate whether or not couples are in it for the long haul.
The study, published last week in the journal Personal Relationships, came out of a larger investigation into the dating patterns of couples. For this research, the study's authors looked specifically at a nine-month period of time during which 464 participants (in 232 different-sex couples) were repeatedly interviewed about how likely, on a scale of 0 to 100, they were to marry their partner. At each interview, participants were also asked to recall their stated marriage likelihood from previous interviews. On average, the participants were about 24 years old, mostly white, and had been in a monogamous relationship for a little over two years.
Results showed that the couples fell into three groups: those who advanced in their relationship progress / self-proclaimed marriage likelihood, those who maintained their relationship status throughout the study, and those whose progress regressed. The advancers turned out to be more accurate in recalling their previous marriage-likelihood percentage. And, they were more securely attached. On the flip side, the couples who had a harder time recalling their progress were deemed to be less involved in the relationship. These participants also tended to recall their relationship progression as more positive than it really was. Meanwhile, those who simply maintained their level of commitment recalled their experiences as progressively more positive over time. The authors conclude that those who are most likely to get married are also better at remembering the development of their relationship. It makes sense: If you're paying more attention to what's actually going on with your significant other, you're probably more involved and likely more committed.
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Of course, this study has its limitations. Perhaps the biggest is the fact that the researchers didn't find out whether these couples actually got married; therefore, whether their self-reported marriage-prediction data was accurate is up for debate. And, the conclusions here discount a ton of other factors that play into whether or not a monogamous relationship lasts.
The study also assumes that marriage is the ultimate relationship goal. We know that fewer people are getting married these days, but that doesn't mean that fewer people are finding rewarding long-term relationships. So, it might be time to move beyond the marriage metric. Regardless, this study's "pay attention to your partner" takeaway is probably one worth following.
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