Brain and Body

Can Science Predict if He or She is “The One?”

November 11, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Bride and groom laughing at their wedding
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These four commitment patterns may reveal if your relationship is doomed.

Can science predict the fate of your relationship? Researchers at the University of Illinois may have come up with some scientifically-backed relationship predictors that could determine whether you and your partner will live happily ever after, or whether it’s time to make a Tinder account…

The researchers hypothesized how an individual’s commitment to wed would fluctuate over time, and thus predict the relationship’s future outcome. To test it out, 376 couples in their mid-20s charted out graphs of how their sense of marriage likelihood changed over time — the vertical axis ranged from 0 to 100 percent, while the horizontal axis displayed time in months.

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The participants were asked to graph key dates during their relationship — like fighting, spending too much time with friends, or meeting the partner’s family — which could cause the commitment to marriage to fluctuate. The participants updated their graphs during a series of interviews over seven months, and then had one final interview about their relationship nine months after the study began.

After analyzing each participant’s relationship chart, the researchers broke the information down and identified four distinct commitment patterns:


Unsurprisingly, the dramatic group had more ups and downs than any other group. Their charts showed steeper changes, and the couples spent more time apart and had lower opinions of their relationship. Their friends and families were less supportive of the relationship as well.

(34% of participants)  


This group was the “my partner is my world” group. Their changes in commitment depended on how much time they could spend together, but they experienced fewer downturns than all other groups.

(30% of participants)

Socially involved:

These were the social butterflies of the sample, but they still experienced fewer downturns than the dramatic and conflict-ridden groups. When changes did occur, they hinged upon the amount of interaction with social networks as well as the opinions of friends and family about their relationship.

(19% of participants)


The individuals in this group fought with their partners more than any other group. They had a large number of downturns, like the dramatic group, however they weren’t as steep. The conflict-ridden group got less support from family and friends than the socially involved group did and reported fewer positive things to say about the relationship than those in the partner-focused group.

(12% of participants)

The results showed that the dramatic group was more than twice as likely to break up than any of the other three groups. Even the conflict-ridden group was more likely to keep their relationship status stable compared to the dramatic group, and those in the partner-focused group were most likely to have their relationship progress.

The researchers suggest that the best bet for a lasting relationship is to be partner-focused, but not dramatic. Of course, every relationship is unique. Just like personalities, it’s difficult to boil down all of the complexities into one category. However, these four categories provide a framework for how certain relationships tend to turn out.

Classification is simplification, so perhaps this basic scientific structure could offer some insight into whether you and your partner are star-crossed lovers or just not meant to be.

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