Are You Two Meant To Last?

Believe it or not, researchers have developed a test that’ll answer this question—with 94% accuracy, no less. Here, how to read your own romantic future.

By Laura Schaefer

ver wonder if you and your main squeeze will make it all the way to happily ever after? While no one can be 100 percent sure where their romantic future will lead, one researcher claims he can suss out a couple’s long-term prospects with a mind-boggling degree of accuracy.

This Nostradamus of love is otherwise known as John Gottman, Ph.D., professor emeritus
Healthy couples make a minimum of five positive comments or gestures to each other for every negative one.
of psychology at the University of Washington, who has been observing couples for three decades. In one landmark study, he recorded fifteen minutes of conversations from seven hundred couples, comparing the number of positive interactions they displayed toward each other (such as smiles or compliments) to the number of negative ones (eye-rolls, sarcasm, or criticism). From that data, Gottman determined that healthy couples generally adhere to a "magic ratio" of 5 to 1—that is, a minimum of five positive comments or gestures are offered for every negative one. Ten years later, Gottman and his colleagues checked back with the couples to see who were still together... and found that their predictions were 94% accurate. In other words, this “magic ratio” did seem to serve as a crystal ball into a couple’s future!

So what if you’d like to tally up your own chances of growing old with your current amour? Should you be keeping a running chart of every kiss, grimace, and comment you make to each other? Of course not; Gottman recommends couples try staying generally positive; then the ratio should take care of itself. “Couples who avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest,” says Gottman. If you think that’s easier said than done, consider how simple it is to change an “honest” comment like “We’re not staying at your family’s place after the wedding; they drive me crazy” into “I’d really love to get a hotel room for your cousin’s wedding; wouldn’t that be romantic?” This also applies to comments you make about your relationship to friends and relatives, so the next time you’re tempted to wallow in a gripe-fest with a pal about how “We haven’t laughed together in ages,” try reframing it as, “I really miss the times we laughed together—I wonder what I can do to change that?”

Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time. After reading Dr. Gottman’s tips, she plans to go call her boyfriend and tell him he is the hottest thing since Christian Bale in Batman.
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