Could choosing someone nice be the key to relationship happiness?

14 February 2019 - 15:38 By AFP Relaxnews
Looking for personality traits such as niceness may be more important for a lasting relationship than looking for traits similar to your own.
Looking for personality traits such as niceness may be more important for a lasting relationship than looking for traits similar to your own.
Image: iStock/Alvarez

For anyone out there looking for love, the key to a lasting relationship could be looking for a nice person, rather than someone similar to yourself.

Carried out by researchers at Michigan State University, the new study involved 2,578 heterosexual couples who have been married roughly 20 years to assess what effect personality traits have on well-being.

The findings, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, showed that having similar personalities, which is commonly believed to be a key to romantic happiness, had almost no effect on how satisfied people were in their lives and relationships.

Instead, it appeared that having a partner who is conscientious and nice leads to higher levels of relationship satisfaction, even among the couples who did share similar personalities.

Having a partner who is neurotic leads to lower relationship satisfaction, and perhaps surprisingly, so did having a partner who is more extroverted. 

"People invest a lot in finding someone who's compatible, but our research says that may not be the end all be all," said study co-author Bill Chopik. "Instead, people may want to ask, 'Are they a nice person?' 'Do they have a lot of anxiety?' Those things matter way more than the fact that two people are introverts and end up together."

When applying the research to dating apps, which have risen in popularity in recent years for those seeking love, Chopik says that matching people on compatibility may not be the best design.

"When you start to get into creating algorithms and psychologically matching people, we actually don't know as much about that as we think we do," Chopik said. "We don't know why the heart chooses what it does, but with this research, we can rule out compatibility as the lone factor."


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