Intimate relationships are not easy to keep as the high rates of divorce and singlehood testify. New research has revealed six key categories of behaviors that can predict if your relationship will stand the test of time or if it’s already destined to end in tragedy. But what are the categories and how were they discovered?
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Psychology, the new research was gathered by University of Nicosia Professor and Psychologist Menelaos Apostolou in an attempt to answer why some people stayed in their relationships and why others didn’t.
In order to answer his question, More specifically, by using qualitative research methods on a sample of 269 Greek-speaking participants, Study 1 identified 88 acts that have a negative impact on people’s willingness to continue an intimate relationship. Study 2 employed quantitative research methods on a sample of 536 Greek speaking participants, and classified these acts into six broader factors.
According to Apostolou, the first group of students was split almost equally between male and female respondents and had an average age of 30 to 31 years old. Roughly 39.1% were in relationships, 26.4% were married, and 27.2% were single.
Once the necessary information was gathered, Apostolou synthesized the results into data points and then presented them to a second group of 536 adult students, asking them to identify the ones that were most likely to end their willingness to continue a relationship.
The makeup of the second group of students was similar to the first, though women did make up a larger percentage at 321 participants. The average age was again somewhere around 31 years old with 40.3% in relationships, 36.6% single, and 17% married.
More importantly, 28% of people in the second group of respondents were identified as having children, something that would be very important once all the results were in.
After completing the second study, Apostolou was able to identify 88 acts that could harm a relationship and further divided them into six easily discernible categories to better understand the major factors that can lead others to end a relationship.
The six factors that could ruin your relationship
The six factors most likely to end a relationship were as follows: Does not care about me; Does not treat our children well; Tries to control me; Shows interest in other men/ women; Exhibits abusive behavior; Has undesirable traits.
The first factor to emerge was the “Tries to control me,” where acts aiming to reduce a partner’s freedom, and impose one’s will, possibly by using manipulation, would negatively affect participants’ willingness to continue a relationship. One facet of this factor, involved the partner being too jealous and frequently making scenes of jealousy. In the “Does not care about me” factor, individuals would be negatively affected by acts indicating indifference, including neglecting, not showing interest, not having time, ignoring and being distant from a partner. In the “Exhibits abusive behavior” factor, participants were put off by their partners being abusive, rough, irritable, yelling at them, and treating them badly.
Moreover, in the “Shows interest in other men/women,” participants were negatively affected by their partners exhibiting interest in others by flirting with other men/women, talking to their past girlfriends/boyfriends, or actually cheating on them. In the “Has undesirable traits” factor, participants were put off by their partners stop taking care of themselves, being lazy, not taking initiatives, never being happy with anything, and being stingy. Furthermore, in the “Does not treat well our children” factor, participants indicated that their relationship’s prospects would be negatively affected by their partners mistreating their children, and not spending enough time with them. Partners being physically abusive and taking advantage of their partners financially, were facets of this factor.
The primary ultimate reason for having a long-term intimate relationship is to have and raise children, and any acts that indicate that partners are not a good fit for this purpose, would negatively affect willingness to stay with them. Thus, although we did not specifically predicted it, the “Does not treat well our children” factor emerged, where participants indicated that they would consider terminating a relationship if their partners mistreated their children. Given the evolutionary significance of having children, it is not surprise that this factor was rated second in how strong negative effect would have on a relationship’s prospects.
sex difference was found in the “Exhibits abusive behavior” and the “Does not treat well our children” factors. However, this effect was part of a general trend of women giving higher scores than men. One reason could be that women are more selective than men over whom they will continue be with. In addition, as indicated by the effect size, the largest sex difference was over the “Does not care about me” factor. One explanation can be that men are more prone than women to adopt a short-term mating strategy , which can turn women more sensitive to behaviors that indicate lack of commitment. The second largest difference was over the “Tries to control me” factor. A possible explanation can be that the risk of cuckoldry turns infidelity more costly for men, who are then more likely to attempt to control their partners’ behavior, turning women more sensitive to these attempts.
For half of the factors, researchers found significant age effects, with older giving higher scores than younger participants. This finding could indicate that people become more selective as they age. Furthermore, it was found that single individuals indicated that the identified factors were more likely to negatively affect their willingness to continue an intimate relationship, than individuals who were in a relationship or married.
One possible reason is that, individuals who are in an intimate relationship, have invest in it, so they would discount any behavioral acts by the amount of investment they would forgo if they were to terminate it. For single individuals, this amount is zero, resulting in higher willingness to terminate a hypothetical relationship. Another contributing factor can be that, people who have a low threshold of tolerating negative behavioral acts from their intimate partners, are more likely to be single. Future research needs to attempt to distinguish between the two effects.
also read: This thing called love!