The One Personality Trait That Can Make Or Break Relationships

A recent analysis of data on 43,952 people shows that one trait not only 'improves the lives of individuals' but it can also strengthen relationships.

Last updated on Jan 18, 2024

couple embracing - Yuri A / Shutterstock

Everyone wants to know how to have healthier and happier relationships, whether that means friendships, romantic relationships, or familial bonds.

You want your relationships to be the best they can be. So why do some relationships last years — or even decades — and others fizzle out as quickly as they started?

It turns out there is one key personality trait that's crucial for happy, healthy relationships, according to science.

Psychological flexibility is the most important trait for healthy relationships.


In a meta-analytical study of 43,952 participants, researchers found that "being mindful and emotionally flexible in tough and challenging situations not only improves the lives of individuals, it might also strengthen and enrich their close relationships."

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Psychological flexibility includes being open and accepting of good and bad experiences, having mindful awareness of the present in daily life, and experiencing thoughts and feelings without obsessing over them. It's also your ability to stay in touch with your own core values throughout the changing moods of each day.




While this might seem too simple, the complexity of this talent should definitely not be taken for granted.

Flexibility is important in all aspects of life, so it's not surprising that people who can put this trait to work can form healthier, more solid relationships.

Keeping a broad perspective and being able to work toward a goal through setbacks are also key elements.


Psychological flexibility is all about being able to adapt when challenges arise.

Psychological flexibility is linked to stronger connections between individuals and more rewarding relationship dynamics.

If you have the ability to adapt or "roll with the punches," then you have a greater chance to quickly assess the problem and look for ways to get past it.

This can help you in arguments, personal conflicts, or even trying to work toward a goal. Whatever the issue is, if you're not put off by the challenge, you'll have a better chance of weighing the outcome in your favor.

In romantic, platonic, and familial relationships, a higher level of psychological flexibility typically leads to less conflict and stress and overall greater satisfaction.


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Think about someone in a relationship who shuts down when their partner gets upset for seemingly no reason, versus someone who can work around the problem calmly and talk it out until there's a resolution.

It's obvious which scenario would get resolved quickly, and which scenario would end with both partners upset at each other and maybe not even speaking.

Relationships low in psychological flexibility are less likely to overcome challenges.

On the other hand, psychological inflexibility characteristics are things like avoiding issues, being distracted in daily life, becoming overwhelmed by stress, and being unable to work past setbacks.


It can also include "stonewalling," or shutting out your partner in order to not discuss the issue at hand.

It should come as no surprise that avoiding issues is the absolute worst way to deal with your problems, but for many people, facing them head-on can be an insurmountable struggle.

And while some people are lucky enough to be born with this personality trait, that doesn't mean you can't increase your skill and learn how to implement this trait in your everyday life.

You can cultivate your own psychological flexibility.

For anyone who struggles with psychological flexibility, all is not lost! There are a few things you can do to improve your overall flexibility, such as keeping your mind stimulated by learning something new every day, mixing things up by doing your routine differently, trying new things, and getting out of your comfort zone.




While this might feel like a challenge, know that in the end, it is absolutely worth it.

Giving yourself the ability to stop and consider different elements of your problems will help keep you calm and rational. And with that in mind, you find solutions easier since you're not limited by stress, fear, or anger.


Working on this hugely important trait will benefit you in many areas of your life.

Your emotional state, thoughts, and even other people's insistence on a single goal or direction won't be able to push you away from doing what needs to be done.

Once you realize how to work with a problem to overcome it rather than against it, you're more likely to have a happy relationship that is strong enough to overcome just about any challenge that arises.

Good luck working on that psychological flexibility!

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Erin Watson is a writer whose main focuses are relationships and entertainment.