The Secret To A Lasting Relationship? Don’t Be An A**hole

Do you ever feel like more and more of your friends’ parents are getting divorced every year? That’s because they are.

In fact, “only three in ten [people] remain in healthy, happy marriages,” reports Ty Tashiro in his book, The Science of Happily Ever After.

This is pretty discouraging. I mean, why even bother getting married if you know you’re just going to end up like all divorced couples you see everyday? You could read a million online listicles and self-help books to discover the “secret” to a lasting relationship. Or, you could just not be an asshole.

Seriously, when The Atlantic interviewed psychologist John Gottman, who has been studying relationships since the 70s, he explained that the real “secret” to a happy relationship boiled down to kindness and generosity.

But kindness and generosity isn’t all about buying gifts, giving foot massages, and bending over backwards to make your partner happy. In fact, it’s actually pretty simple.

In one of the most simple examples, Gottman introduced the concept of “bids” to The Atlantic. Basically, it would be like a dude saying, “Hey babe, the new Drake album is out, and it’s really lit.”

In a “healthy” relationship, his girlfriend would turn towards him and say, “Nice! I wanna check it out,” and maybe go over and take one of his earbuds. In a “non-healthy” relationships, the girlfriend would say something like, “Can you stop bothering me? I’m doing work.”

It’s obviously really trivial, but it tells a lot about somebody’s relationship. From The Atlantic:

Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

Crazy that something so small could say so much, right?

Another thing that played a big role in whether couples stayed together was contempt. If someone is focused on criticizing their partner, they miss 50 percent of the positive things their partners are doing, according to Gottman.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kindness isn’t my thing, I’m just not that type of person. I’m kind of a selfish asshole.” And it’s okay, I am too. But even though you may think of kindness as something you’re born with, it’s not.

Gottman explained to The Atlantic that those with successful relationships view kindness as a muscle. In other words, kindness doesn’t always come naturally, it’s something that you actually have to work at (kind of like relationships).

So basically, even if you’re a self proclaimed douchebag, you still have hope at having a healthy and long lasting relationship. You’ve just got to remember that sometimes you’re going to have to put in a little effort. It’s not about having kinky sex every night, it’s not about spoiling your partner with fancy gifts, it’s really just about being genuinely nice. And if all else fails, fake it ’till you make it!

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