We've Got Science's 7 Secrets For Happy Relationships

Photo: Kuznetsov Dmitriy / Shutterstock
man carrying woman on his back

For a lot of people, the most important thing in the world is being in a relationship.

There's security in it: you're loved, you have a partner, and you're no longer out there in the world, single, trying to make sense of the bizarre messages you get on OKCupid. Being in a relationship is great! But it's also hard work, and being happy all the time takes a lot of patience and effort.

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One of the largest studies of relationships ever had some fascinating findings. Conducted over a two-year period that encompassed 5,000 people of all relationship statuses, ages, and sexual orientations, the research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, reveals some pretty interesting keys to keeping your relationship happy.

Let's break it down for you.

Here are science's 7 secrets for happy relationships:

1. Don't have kids

Once you're married the questions about when you're going to have a baby start. It's as if it's just the mandatory next step in this whole thing called life, and any mother will tell you it's the greatest thing in the entire world. However, couples that have chosen not to have kids feel most "satisfied" overall, and more valued by their partner.

Although the study did find that the most miserable of the group are women who don't have a partner or child, and the happiest of everyone are mothers, this is about happiness in relationships.

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2. Say "thank you"

It might seem really insignificant, but when you thank someone, whether it's your partner or someone else, you're showing your appreciation. People like to feel appreciated. If you take two people with great manners and who make each other feel appreciated, you're looking at a relationship full of bliss.

3. Give compliments

People like to know that they look good or have a talent for something. Complimenting people makes you feel good, and gives them an ego boost. Happy people make for happy relationships.

4. Have some experience

The study found that those who had already done the long-term serious relationship thing were actually better at their next relationship. We learn from our past mistakes and bring it with us to our new experiences — how can that not be a recipe for greatness?

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5. Don't be a middle-aged man, but do be a woman 34 years old or younger

It kind of narrows things down a bit, doesn't it? With so many people studied who were so many different ages, how old you are would have to come into play at some point.

According to the study, the happiest men in relationships were those who were either younger or older; those guys in the middle weren’t as cheery about their relationships. But hey, middle age is tough! As for ladies, society doesn't make aging easy, so if you're under 34 now, make mental notes as to what makes you happy about your relationship and carry it with you into your later years.

6. Be in a same-sex relationship

Apparently, straight couples don't like to put in as much work as gay couples, which leads to both components feeling less positive about their relationship. It was also found that straight couples are least likely to say, "I love you." Yikes. An "I love you" a day keeps a breakup away, you guys.

7. If you have kids, don't get married

Lastly, it was found that unmarried parents are a little bit happier than those who tie the knot. Just because you have a child with someone doesn't mean you have to walk down the aisle! Do what's right for you, and right for the happiness of your relationship, not what people tell you is "right."

What do you think are the secrets of a happy relationship

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Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post, and others.