Word Up? Matching Language Styles Mean Long-Term Compatibility

A study shows couples with similar language styles stay together longer.

woman texting and smiling

Whether you're a word nerd or a grammarian's nightmare, a study published in Psychological Science says that people with similar language styles stay in a relationship longer than those whose styles are dissimilar. Study Says Happy Couples Talk And Write Alike

Our language styles, as believed by study authors James Penebaker and Molly Ireland, are based on how often we use function words or everyday words like "anything," "that" and "him."


"Function words are highly social and they require social skills to use. For example, if I'm talking about the article that's coming out, and in a few minutes I make some reference to 'the article,' you and I both know what the article means," said Pennebaker.

In order to study the styles, Penebaker and Ireland used a computer program to record and compare partners' language styles. In the first experiment, college students went on four-minute speed dates and in the second experiment, the authors studied online chats between couples over the course of 10 days.

Though nothing seemed askew when listening to these conversations by ear, the text analysis revealed differences in language synchrony. The pairs whose language styles were in sync and above-average were almost four times as likely to want future contact compared to those whose speaking styles were not in sync. In addition to that, almost 80 percent of the couples whose writing style matched were still dating three months later, as opposed to only 54 percent of couples whose styles didn't match. Man Speak Vs. Woman Speak: 10 Common Misunderstandings


And I thought I was just being picky when my online dating prospective constantly missppelled wait "wate." (English was his second language but still.)

When we think about it, it's easy to see how similar language styles and vocabularies determine our compatibility. Those of us who are word nerds take the time to properly place our commas, so we certainly appreciate another word nerd who does the same. Those who couldn't care less about punctuation gravitate towards people who feel the same.

At face value, they are just words. Yet what many of us don't realize is that how we speak and write is, in fact, an extension of ourselves. It gives our partner an insight to what we value and find important. And if we prefer to speak and write in a certain way, then it makes perfect sense to want a relationship with someone who speaks and writes in that way, too.

Do you agree? Would you date someone with a language style different from yours?