Love is a many-splendored thing, but only 10 factors determine if it’ll be splendored enough to last.
“What predicts how happy people are with their romantic relationships?” wrote authors of a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) Monday. Turns out, the most important predictors of whether a relationship will succeed or fail have a foundation in both the union and the people in it.
The 10 most predictive signs are divided into five factors to do with the relationship itself and five character factors of the lovers — but it’s a bit more complicated than checking off boxes in a list. The interactions between the two, researchers found, are more important than the isolated factors alone.
Researchers used artificial intelligence to analyze 43 previous relationship studies “to directly quantify and compare the predictive power of many such variables among 11,196 romantic couples.”
The study identified five individual variables that determine relationship satisfaction as life satisfaction, negative affect, depression, attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety. The five relationship-based variables are perceived partner commitment, appreciation, sexual satisfaction, perceived partner satisfaction and conflict. These factors are not created equal, and some have significantly more influence on a relationship’s ability to thrive or not, the study showed.
“The dynamic that you build with someone — the shared norms, the in-jokes, the shared experiences — is so much more than the separate individuals who make up that relationship,” Samantha Joel, the study’s lead author and director of Western University’s Relationship Decisions Lab in Ontario, Canada, told Inverse. “It really seems that having a great relationship is less about finding the perfect partner or changing your current partner, and more about building that relationship itself — setting up the conditions that will allow the relationship to flourish.”
However, the study clarified that “none of these variables could predict whose relationship quality would increase versus decrease over time.”
So while a couple may check all the right factor boxes at the beginning of a relationship, time is a far stronger indicator than any amount of initial, AI-predicted compatibility.