Can Science Predict If You’ll Get Married (or Break Up)?

posted: 11/10/15
by: Mara Betsch

Everything is going great in your relationship, and you think he (or she) may be the one. But can you really tell for sure? Science says yes, actually.

Psychology researchers decided to look at relationships and determine if there are, in fact, telltale signs that predict the future of relationships. And here's what they discovered in a recent study.

The study looked at 376 dating couples in their mid-20s, interviewed these couples over the course of seven months, and actually charted their likelihood of marriage (pretty scary, huh?). They made note of key dates -- perhaps moving in together or meeting the parents -- and changes in relationship statuses -- like becoming official or "taking a break." From that information, the researchers tried to estimate couples' "commitment to wed," which is a nice way of saying if a couple thinks their relationship will end in marriage. From this info, they decided that there were four common commitment patterns:

  • Dramatic (34 percent): The classic up-and-down relationship. These individuals spent more time apart and didn't enjoy the support of friends and family when it came to their relationship.
  • Partner-focused (30 percent): As the name describes it, this couple think his or her partner is the most important thing in his or her life, and people in this type of relationship, unsurprisingly, spent a lot of time together.
  • Socially involved (19 percent): Though this type of couple is steady, they rely on their social network (and their friends' and families' approval) to determine how happy they are in their relationship.
  • Conflict-ridden (12 percent): These couples were the fighters of the group, often had fewer positive things to say about their partner, and suffered a lot of relationship downturns.

So what's the takeaway? Obviously not every relationship fits into these neat categories, but the researchers did notice some patterns. Those in the dramatic group were twice as likely to break up as the other groups, partner-focused groups were more likely to see relationship progress, and the conflict-ridden group was actually more likely to have a stable relationship than the dramatic group.

Though you can definitely take these results with a grain of salt, it seems that partner-focused, but not dramatic, relationships are the most likely to end in marriage. Substantial variations in a couple's commitment can spell trouble in the future.

"Relationships move at difference paces and in different patterns. Whether your relationship is moving quickly or slowly, smoothly or has been a bit rocky, this research demonstrates how your relationship's past trajectory can offer a glimpse into its future," Gary W Lewandowski Jr, Chair/Professor of Psychology , Monmouth University wrote in an article on Live Science.