5 Unexpected Facts About Relationships That'll Probably Freak You Out

Photo: Getty
5 Weird But Fun Facts About How To Make A Relationship Work
Love

What can we say? It's science.

Looking around you, it seems like all of your happily paired-up friends are on cloud nine, right?

The Joneses are expecting twins. The Robertsons are sending their oldest off to college. And the Smiths are giddily announcing that they've grown closer than ever during the quarantine.

Meanwhile, you and your partner suffer in silence. The two of you have settled into a comforting (if not admittedly boring) routine. And while the flames of passion haven't fizzled out completely, they've diminished to a dull burn.

You're haunted with the question that plagues so many other couples: Are you as happy as everyone else?

And perhaps an even scarier question lurks: What does it mean if you're not?

Fortunately, digging into some fun facts about relationships as culled from various compelling scientific studies can offer you some of the best advice on how to make a relationship work

How do you truly stack up in comparison to other, seemingly happier couples? What makes people happy in those relationships you see on the greener side of the grass?

The results we found are surprising, and will hopefully help you put your worst relationship fears into some much needed perspective.

RELATED: 10 Signs You Have The Kind Of (Healthy!) Relationship That Will Truly Last

Happiness is relative after all, and happy couples aren't always as they seem.

Here are 5 kind of bizarre but also kind of fun facts about relationships you wouldn't expect to be true (but that totally are):

1. Most men who cheat feel happy in their marriages.

We hate to break it to you, but keeping your partner happy at home does not make your relationship affair-proof. In fact, most self-admitted male cheaters describe themselves as happily married.

In a study conducted at Rutgers University, biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher found that 34% of married women and 56% of married men who had affairs report being happy in their marriages. In such cases, a man cheats not because he no longer loves his wife, but rather, because he does love her and wants to stay married to her. He therefore goes outside of the marriage to fulfill needs she is unwilling to because he does not want to get divorce her.

2. Couples who get angry with each other have the healthiest relationships.

After conducting a series of studies at Florida State University, researcher James McNulty found that when one partner is too forgiving, the relationship may suffer in the long run, whereas couples who have angry but honest conversations are more like to work towards healthy solutions to their problems.

"If the partner can do something to resolve a problem that is likely to otherwise continue and negatively affect the relationship," McNulty says, "people may experience long-term benefits by temporarily withholding forgiveness and expressing anger."

That doesn't mean you should rant like a sailor. Out of the 100,000 people surveyed for by the authors of "The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship," 90 percent of the happiest individuals have never cursed at their partners. So, fight nice!

RELATED: The 6 Types Of (Healthy) Fights Every Long-Lasting Relationship Must Have To Survive

3. Couples without children are typically happier than those who become parents.

No kids? No problem. As a childless couple, you're probably much happier for it.

While parents feel stressed out and perpetually sleep-deprived, a survey conducted by a team at the Open University in England found that childless couples have more time for each other and therefore love their life and their romantic partners more.

The researchers say this is because childless couples put more time into working on their relationships than couples with children do.

Imagine a romantic getaway without three kids in tow? Sounds like happiness to me!

4. Sleeping together too soon means you'll probably break up quickly, too.

They say that the happiest couples are those who are physically intimate at least once per week, but that doesn't mean you should start your bedroom routine too early on.

Researchers from Cornell University studied nearly 600 married and co-habitating couples in order to investigate the connection between when these couples first had sex and their later perceptions of relationship quality. They found that waiting at least a month before sleeping increases the chances a relationship will last.

"Women who entered into sexual relationships with their current partners the most rapidly reported significantly lower levels of relationship satisfaction than those who waited somewhat longer before becoming sexually involved." explains lead author Sharon Sassler, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management.

"Conversely," the researchers also note, "women who entered sexual relationships with their partners later in the relationship were happier in the subsequent marriage than those who had rushed into sex. Men who delayed sex also reported higher levels of commitment and less conflict, but the effect was greater for women."

5. Couples whose mutual friends are mutual friends on Facebook are more likely to breakup.

For all of those couples you know who share an obnoxious stream of couple selfies, date night check-ins, and sappy social media status updates: be warned. There's something to be said for keeping some parts of your life, including your vast collection of Facebook friends, at least somewhat separate and distinct.

According to an analysis of datasets pulled from 1.3 million Facebook users (because nothing that says Facebook like complete and total invasion of your privacy at all times), the strength of a couple's connection with each other is more likely to be weak when their mutual friends are closely connected to one other as well.

As technology editor Claire Porter explains:

"This theory is described as dispersion. Couples with high dispersion have mutual friends who are not well connected. Couples with low dispersion have mutual friends who are well connected ... The Facebook theory suggests if you and your partner share the same social circle on Facebook (low dispersion), you're less likely to have your own lives and therefore the relationship is more likely to implode."

In another twist, four out of five couples place the blame for their Facebook for their breakup. At least, that's the claim made by a group therapists at Relationships Ireland, who state that as many as 80% of the "marriages they are trying to save have fallen apart partly because of a growing trend of couples spending more time texting and posting status updates than talking to one another."

And what's more awkward than having to make your breakup "Facebook official," too?

RELATED: Want A Lasting Relationship? 10 Facebook Mistakes You Must Avoid

This article was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated with new information.

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Alexandra Churchill is a digital editor based in New York City whose work has been featured on numerous sites, including The Huffington Post, Her Campus, USA TODAY College, and Northshore and Ocean Home magazines.

Author
Contributor