“…Well, that relationship is never going to work out.”
“…Wow, those two are so perfect for each other!”
“…I don’t know. It seems like they’re growing apart.”
Sometimes it seems easy to have opinions on other couples we know. But what about your own relationship? Do you think you see it accurately?
While we may think of relationships as unique, a recent study of over 350 heterosexual dating couples in their twenties found that in general, partnerships could actually be sorted into 4 basic groups. The experts categorized the men and women based on in-depth interviews conducted over a period of nine months. Of course, not every couple fit perfectly into a “box,” but overall, patterns were clear.
So…which “type” might you be?
Type 1: The “dramatic” couple
These couples (who were the most numerous!) experienced a lot of changes in their commitment level over time. (Things mostly got worse). They were highly social, but often didn’t share the same friends, and had many negative thoughts and feelings about the relationship.
These relationships were low on passionate love. Their members felt pretty unsure about the possibility of marriage, and often ended up breaking up.
Type 2: The “conflict-ridden” couple
These couples experienced a lot of passionate love, but also had a lot of fights. Like dramatic couples, they felt fairly unsure about marrying each other, but weren’t as likely to break up. These men and women didn’t tend to have many interests and hobbies in common, meaning they spent less free time together.
Type 3: The “socially involved” couple
These couples shared many of the same friends and social networks, and felt happy about that. They often seemed to have a “friendship-based” love. They were more likely to say they felt they were heading towards marriage, and didn’t hold many worries on that subject.
Type 4: The “partner-focused” couple
These men and women felt really good about their relationships and their partners. They liked doing the same kinds of things, and tended to spend their free time together, rather than with their social networks. Their level of commitment was strong. This type of couple had the highest level of overall relationship satisfaction.
What About You?
While your relationship (and those of the other couples you know) may not fit perfectly into one of these four types, it’s interesting to read about them and consider how they may or may not apply.
For instance, are you enjoying leisure time and social time with your partner, or not? How does that affect your relationship? Does your partnership involve a lot of fights and ups and downs, or do things tend to be pretty stable?
While there’s no crystal ball to predict the future, understanding the true nature of your relationship can help you decide whether your current partner is the right choice. What's your "type"?
If you’re in a relationship but need help with issues like communicating and handling conflict, why not consider taking a relationship education class? The SMART Couples project is offering ELEVATE, a FREE, research-backed relationship enhancement class for couples, in Florida counties across the state. Sign up today!
By Carol Church, lead writer, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Ogolsky, B.G., Surra, C. A., & Monk, J. K. (2016). Pathways of commitment to wed: The development and dissolution of romantic relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 293-310. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12260