This One Quality Leads To More Lasting Relationships, New Study Finds
When it comes to relationship compatibility, questions abound. Does their introverted personality mesh with my extroverted ways? What's their astrological sign? Do they like to sleep in a cold room? (We could go on.) New research suggests, however, relationship happiness is dependent on something much more straightforward.
A study1 from Michigan State University found that having a partner who is nice and caring leads to higher levels of satisfaction in a relationship. While it may feel like second nature to dream about a potential partner with a complementary personality, it seems kindness reigns king when it comes to lasting love.
The researchers talked to over 2,500 heterosexual couples who had been married for about 20 years. Neuroticism, or a partner's likelihood of being anxious or depressed, was a close second for predicting the well-being of the couples. They cared less about other personality factors like extroversion, openness, and agreeableness.
If anything, this research tells us that there's much more to finding the perfect match than just compatibility. Getting a clearer picture of kindness by fostering deep communication is a step in the right direction in building relationships. Any way you spin it, these couples were clear: Kindness trumps compatibility if you're looking for things in the long term.
While we've always championed building a strong foundation of qualities like respect, trust, and honesty in a relationship to make it work, you can find us bumping kindness to the top of that list. With the current divorce rate in the U.S. dropping thanks to millennials waiting to tie the knot, it seems like more people are taking the time to discover these qualities in their partners, too.
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development. She has also written for SFGate.com and The Stanford Daily and runs a paleo(ish) food Instagram, @healthy_lizard.