If there is one thing Hollywood has taught us (a.k.a managed to mislead us) about relationships, it is that once you meet your “soulmate”, happiness automatically ensues - eternally ever after. And if there is one thing we have learned from scientific research on couples who have managed to remain happy after years of being together, it is that happiness does not just ensue, and its ever-after is anything but guaranteed. The good news is, however, that we now know a lot about what to do to make a relationship work.
Happify, a company dedicated to helping people live happier lives, has created a wonderful infographic summarizing the most relevant research on how to build a good relationship.
But before we get into that, let's just make it clear that you don’t necessarily need a relationship to be happy. Actually, science is still a bit murky when it comes to whether or not being married makes you happier and whether or not the positive effects of marriage are actually associated with better financial resources and not being stereotyped or socially excluded (which usually happens to single people after a certain age).
Another drawback of the research on marriage is that it usually excludes divorced and widowed people. This is problematic, because if you want to know the long-lasting implications of getting married, divorced and widowed people should be included in the “married” group.
Even so, the results from a nationally representative sample described in the book Singled Out show that on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 indicating the greatest happiness, currently married people rate themselves at 3.3, always-single people at 3.2, and divorced and widowed people both rate themselves at 2.9. And, as you will see from the infographic below, statistics show that after the initial two-year happiness boost marriage gives you, happiness levels return back to what they were prior to the marriage.
So, if you are in a relationship or have no intentions to remain single forever, here are the best habits, mindsets and attitudes that have been proven by science to improve the quality of relationships. Otherwise, if you would like some more evidence that staying single will not make you more miserable than your married friends, read this.