4 Distinct Patterns That Determine How Long A Relationship Lasts

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Have you ever been in a relationship and wished you had some kind of psychic power to predict where it was headed? Have you searched the internet or confided in divine powers, wondering to yourself, "How long will my relationship last?"

Well, science has come up with a way to predict the fate of your relationship, without the use of Tarot cards or crystal balls.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family identified four types of relationship patterns that can indicate whether a couple is likely to stay together.

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The research, conducted by Brian Ogolsky of the University of Illinois, and his colleagues, classified couples by the changes in their commitment to get married and the reasons supporting these changes. 

The study (unlike previous individual-centered ones) focused on relationships as a unit, and also looked at the relationship in conjunction with social media.

The subjects of the study were 376 unmarried couples in their mid-20s who were studied over a nine-month period. The participants were asked to note whenever they felt a major shift in how they felt about their partner and were interviewed on a monthly basis.

The researchers used all the information to predict how long a relationship will last, which was defined as ending in marriage.

Here are the four distinct patterns that determine how long your relationship will last:

Some of the things that could affect the relationship negatively included spending too much time with friends, fighting, or not having enough in common.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, meeting the significant other's family, spending a lot of time together, and having many things in common helped strengthen the commitment to wed. 

So, does your relationship fall into any of these commitment types?

1. Dramatic

This kind of couple has an up-and-down type of relationship with more downs than ups. They enjoy more time apart from their significant other and have more negative opinions about their relationship.

In addition, the couples' families and friends are a lot less supportive of the relationship.

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Diagnosis: People in the dramatic group are more than twice as likely to break up than any of the other three groups.

2. Partner-focused

In this type of relationship, the commitment approach is where "my partner is the center of my universe" and, in turn, there are very few downturns. Their changes in commitment revolve around how much time they are able to spend together.

Diagnosis: Those in the partner-focused group are more likely to have their relationships progress steadily and in a positive way, going naturally from casual dating to promising a more serious commitment.

3. Socially involved

This kind of couple experiences very little change, and when they do it usually isn't in a negative way.

When changes do happen, it's mostly determined by the amount of interaction they have regarding social media, and what their family and friends think of the relationship.

Diagnosis: This type of relationship relies too much on what other people think, and therefore has a shaky foundation. It might last for a while, but the chances are likely they'll break up for good.

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4. Conflict-ridden

These couples are generally the ones who fight the most and have a high number of downturns. Interestingly, the size of the changes in the relationship isn't as steep as the dramatic types and is mostly due to conflicts.

They have fewer positive things to say about their relationship than the partner-focused couples, and less support from the socially involved group.

Yet, the conflict-ridden group is more likely to keep their relationship status stable than the dramatic group. Maybe the fighting keeps the relationship viable and passionate.

Diagnosis: While the conflict-ridden group is more likely to keep their status stable when compared to the conflict-ridden group, they aren't on solid ground. Try to support rather than fight with your partner.

Classification is a simplification and can only indicate certain relationship trends. Most relationships can't neatly fit into one of these types, but when they are combined, relationships are more likely to work.

Summation: If your relationship is partner-focused it has the greatest chance of going the distance, making a long-term commitment to marriage and beyond. Socially involved and conflict-ridden are tied for longevity, and dramatic is the least lasting of the commitment types. 

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.