The most effective strategies for improving intimate relationships have been revealed by a new study, indicating the best behaviors to strengthen your feelings with your partner. Taking an array of different strategies, the research used two different studies to understand how each is perceived by the other partner, and the relationship outcomes, in an attempt to find the top priorities.
The first study involved 219 Greek-speaking participants (121 women) and used an open-ended questionnaire to identify different strategies each person would use to improve their relationship. Out of the cohort, 38 percent were currently in a relationship, so they came up with quite a number of different ways – 81, to be exact.
Next, it was time to find the best strategies out of their new pool. For this, the researchers increased the sample size up to 511 people (309 women), who were on average around 35 years old, and 36 percent of them were in a relationship. They were each given the new list of 81 strategies and asked “to what extent” they would utilize each strategy to improve their relationship.
Once tallied, the researchers clumped the strategies into 14 different categories that linked them together, ranging from improving one's looks, to opening up and showing more love.
The top five strategies were as follows:
- Try to understand the other partner's needs and desires.
- Discuss problems together and become more open to expressing their worries.
- Show more interest in the other partner and spend more time together.
- Go on more experiences together, including date nights and trips.
- Build trust, and be more honest and respectful.
Coming in last was improving looks and going to self-improvement classes themselves, indicating most people are far more focused on the relationship and its dynamics as opposed to becoming a more attractive partner.
While this study showed what strategies people would be willing to use, it didn’t look at how effective they thought they would be. The researchers therefore validated their findings against another cohort of people and gave them the same 81 strategies, but asked them to imagine they were in a relationship and rate how effective they thought each would be. Surprisingly, pretty much the same list arose, suggesting most people are in agreement about the best strategies.
Of course, this is a relatively small sample size to really understand different relationship dynamics and the samples were mostly of one culture, so it may not be entirely representative.
Still, everyone in these three studies were in agreement – if you want to improve your relationship, go talk to your partner, spend time with them, and be more open about your problems. Shocking, we know.
The study is published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.