It is valentines day, but how solid is your relationship really?

2013-02-14 07:34

In 2011 one of the most extensive surveys ever on romantic relationships, polling over 100,000 people from different parts of the world was conducted together with media partners such as The Huffington Post, Reader's Digest, AARP, iVillage, & AOL. The findings were published in 2013 by authors Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, and James Witte in a book published by Random House under the title the Normal Bar. The data was astonishing and revealed that even in good relationships, trust can be wobbly.  Various questions were put in the survey and some of the findings as seen below were astonishing. The book is a must read for anyone interested in relationships.

Some of the findings were:

39% of women in the study completely trusted their partners, compared to 53% of men and that nearly three-quarters of the respondents (75% of men and 71% of women) said they lie to their partners to one degree or another. Only 27% of the respondents said they never ever lied. The survey showed that even among extremely happy couples, 69% of men and women said they have lied at some point to their partners. More than a third (36%) of women and 19% of men lie to each other about the cost of a product. Lying about the cost of a product does not appear to have any direct negative effects on the relationship, but lying about even as a small thing as the cost of a dress is definitely not a habit you want to get into.

40% of men and 24% of women lied to their partners about their appearance. One fourth of all women and men lie to their partners about money. Even spouses will exaggerate how much or how little cash they have. After 6 years together as a couple 20% fewer men and women still find their partners as attractive as they did in year one.

Couples who have nothing in common tend to run separate lives and have few shared or satisfying bonds. Religion was raised as a major consideration when choosing a mate but almost 80% of respondents who differed in belief said that it did not cause friction. Religious differences would however pose greater challenges in a relationship where the parties are fundamentalist believers.

Relationships are supposed to be open, sharing, and honest, but 59% of men and 56% of women lied about their feelings towards each other. Half of all partners not only suppress their emotions but also gave misleading feedback about what’s going on in their head and heart. As you might guess, people who are less happy lied the most. In fact, 72% of unhappy partners choose not to share their true feelings with their partners. Whether this emotional deception is a cause or an effect of the overall unhappiness, it makes it very difficult to fix the relationship. The surprising finding, however, is that 48% of extremely happy partners also lie about their feelings.

The number one thing that couples wanted from their relationship was not sex but communication. 90% of men and women rate themselves as good communicators. But when asked whether they consider their partners to be good communicators, 30% said no. In general it is believed that women are better communicators than men. 78% of gay men and lesbians said their partners do a great job of communicating. Only 8% of respondents said that they never sms/text or email their partners.

Privacy seems to be in jeopardy and more than half (54%) of women and 49% of men said they read their partner’s email. It does not matter if they are happy or unhappy with their relationships.

According to the finding openness about money correlates with relationship satisfaction. Among extremely happy couples, 80% of partners know how much their significant other earns. 60% of childless parents keep separate bank accounts and a large number of partners with children (40%) also hold at least some of their money separately. In fact, 36% of all couples who have been together for more than 20 years still keep separate accounts and 77% of married couples jointly decide how money is spent.

A full half of men and 36% of women said that they sometimes lie about where they have been and what they have been doing. It was further found that more unhappy than happy couples lie about where they have been.

Bertus Preller is an Author and Family Law Attorney at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys in Cape Town. Follow him on Twitter: @bertuspreller

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