Hollywood usually gives us the impression that, somewhere out there, is a human being that is absolutely perfect for us in every way. This person is compatible with all of our strengths, weaknesses, flaws and shortcomings. And as soon as we meet them, life will turn into a real life, cheesy romance flick.
The only problem is, science says otherwise.
A new study out of the University of Texas found that the odds of meeting a single person in your area who just-so-happens to be a perfect match for you in every way is, unfortunately, pretty low. The good news is, the researchers say that our relationship satisfaction isn’t necessarily determined by how much our partner fits that criteria anyway. Instead, happiness in a relationship is measured by how well our partner compares to other potential partners that you or they could have. In other words, if you think your partner is the best fish you can catch, so to speak, that will weigh more heavily on your overall satisfaction with that person than a common interest.
To get these results, researchers had people at all ends of the relationship spectrum–from marriage to casual dating–fill out a survey. Those who thought their partner was a better catch than they were were generally more happy with their relationships.
“Relationship satisfaction was not related to how well mates fulfilled their partner’s preferences,” researchers wrote. “Relationship satisfaction declined for participants whose mates were less desirable than their alternatives, but only for participants who were higher in mate value than their mates.”
The takeaway here seems to be to give up on the idea of finding this fantasy “soul mate” out of 7 billion people, and instead find someone who compares well to the dating pool around you.
Certainly makes the job a little less daunting, doesn’t it?