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19 May 2011
Strongest relationships come through equal commitment
by George Atkinson

What ensures a good relationship with an intimate partner? Researchers say that when one person is more committed than the other it makes for a problematic partnership and when commitments are equal then the relationship is strongest.

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, it's not the partners' individual commitments that make the most difference in the grace and longevity of the partnership. It's how well their levels of commitment match up.

The subjects in the study were all in their early twenties and heterosexual. In the experiment, each couple discussed - and tried to resolve - the problem that caused them the most conflict. Then they talked about the things they agreed on most. Their videotaped interactions were rated for the amount of hostility - coldness, rejection, and remorseless injury - and hopelessness about the relationship that each partner displayed, and how each tried to quell those in the other. As expected, the couples with disparate commitments were the most hostile.

The researchers concluded that two strong links will be benevolent and tolerant when the going gets rough. Two weak links may be lax about working things out, but their expectations are equally low - so there's less friction. But when a weak link and a strong link pair up, the one with less investment has more influence - and stability is the loser.

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Source: Psychological Science

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