Feb 13

“The Science of Happily Ever After”: Making Love Last

Although supportive friends, self-confidence and communication skills contribute to healthy romantic relationships, a much stronger predictor of romantic success is the type of partner you choose in the first place. The traits that a partner possesses before you ever start dating, such as his or her personality and values, are among the strongest indicators of whether a romantic relationship will be happy and stable many years later. Ty Tashiro, The Science of Happily Ever After

The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love (2014) begins with the following conundrum: “How do you make smart decisions while falling madly in love?”

Psychologist/Professor Ty Tashiro, the author of The Science of Happily Ever After, has analyzed the research and drawn conclusions about what matters most in developing relationships that last. Guess what—much is rooted in your initial decisions.

Three wishes, Tashiro says, are what you should use in seeking your best mate. No less, no more—in most cases, that is. Susannah Cahalan, New York Post, illustrates:

Imagine you have a room of 100 men. If you choose mediocrity — the trifecta of average income, looks and height — you’ll have, statistically, only 13 suitors out of 100 to choose from. Increase your criteria to an attractive man at least 6-feet tall who makes $87,000, and you’re left with only one.

Add another trait — funny, kind, even a political affiliation — and it becomes statistically impossible to find him out of 100 men.

Furthermore, like and lust, both important, have to be properly balanced. Considering that lust decreases at a faster rate than like (8% per year versus 3%), the latter appears to win out. “When being in love is broken into its smaller parts, we see that it is three parts liking to one part lust,” says Tashiro.

Expanding on this concept is Rachel Pomerance Berl, US News, quoting the author:

‘Sometimes I am asked why infatuation and the feelings that accompany it, such as butterflies in the stomach or a racing heart, cannot last,’ Tashiro writes in his book. ‘These visceral feelings are powerful feelings of lust, and they cannot last for a simple reason; you would die.’ Such sensations equate to stress and high blood pressure that, should they continue unabated, could become toxic, he explains. ‘So, even though the lust component of being in love drives a very intense and visceral type of emotional experience, the intensity of passionate love is necessarily ephemeral.’

Tashiro writes in Time that younger people today, the “millennials,” have found ways to date that could actually be instructive to their elders:

    • Be Clear About Your Goal: “…Millennials are generally more open to diversity, which has broadened our views of what can be a happy marriage, including changes in beliefs about gender roles, support of gay marriage and more favorable attitudes about interracial marriage.”
    • Be Smart: “Millennials are generally optimistic, but they delight in smart, contrarian views of cultural standards. They eagerly latch onto research findings that demonstrate how holding onto fairy tale notions of the beautiful princess, powerful princes, and fate delivering a soulmate, actually make it less likely that one’s love story will end happily ever after.”
    • Find Undervalued Traits: “…They love the Moneyball aspect of the book, the idea that just as there were undervalued traits in baseball players that were key to winning, there are also undervalued traits in romantic partners that are key to happy relationships.”
    • Take Action: “Although millennials deliberate before acting, they don’t ruminate, which makes them amenable to solution focused psychological approaches. They want to create dating habits that create creating congruence between what they know are the right decisions in relationships and how they actually act.”
    • Keep The Faith: “Millennials may be dissatisfied with modern dating, but they are not giving up. They know that who you choose as a marital partner is one of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime and they are powered by an optimism that they will find a better way to do it.”