5 Common Myths About Relationships and 5 Surprising Truths

There is a ton of great research about relationships. There’s even some very fine academic research about gay and lesbian relationships. Based on the work of John Gottman one of the most prominent relationship researchers, I’ve summarized years of painstaking laboratory study about relationships.

5 Myths

The following “common sense” beliefs, which you may often hear discussed on TV talk shows, actually are not true. Research that follows couples over many years disproves all these myths.

1. Affairs are the most common reason for break ups. False

The major cause of break up is feeling emotionally distant from your partner. This causes 80% of all break ups. Affairs are tough, but they are not always deal breakers.

2. High expectations lead to disappointment in relationships. False

Research proves that people who expect to be treated well get treated well. People who lower their expectations get less well treated.

3. Good problem solving and conflict resolution is important in long-term relationships. False

In happy relationships most conflicts are never resolved. They remain as problems but are coped with through dialogue.

4. You have to get your family stuff resolved before you can be in a good relationship. False

Yes, your unresolved issues from your childhood might create some issues in your relationship, but research shows that the success of your relationship is based on how these are managed, not that they are resolved.

5. Healthy couples don’t hurt each other’s feelings. False

Unfortunately you will probably hurt your partner’s feelings. What is most important in great relationships is that you know how to repair after the fight.

5 Truths

Research tell us that the following is true in relationships:

1. Same sex spouses are more satisfied with their partners than heterosexual ones.

Overcoming the gender-divide, and the dealing with the history of the power imbalance between men and women is hard. Gay couples don’t have to deal with that. And they have less baggage from gender expectations and gender roles. They share duties more equally. You can read more about the research in this New York Times article.

2. Harsh tones matter: 96% of fights end in the same tone where they start.

The most important predictor of whether or not the conversation will go well is if you bring up the difficult topic with softness rather than harshness.

3. Accepting the influence of your partner is critical to successful relationships.

In other words, you need to share power and you can’t continually be defensive.

4. Most fights are due to a failed bid for connection.

You are not fighting about the butter. You are fighting because your partner felt dropped by you in that moment. Or vice-versa.

5. Turning towards your partner works.

Turning towards simply means responding when your partners says something, even by just saying “uh-huh” when they make a comment. Consistently ignoring your partner is what kills the relationship. Couples that stay together turn towards each other 86% of the time. Couples that break up only turn towards each other 30% of the time.

Did any of these surprise you? Do you have questions about these facts and myths? Let us know on the blog.


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