The magic ratio
September 19, 2013 by
Categories: Couple, Research

Unfortunately, relationships do not come with a manual. They are really hard to figure out sometimes! However, the good news is that there are researchers who are invested in trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. One of these researchers is John Gottman.

According to John Gottman, there is a magic ratio that sets successful couples apart from the not so successful couples (those who are miserable and eventually separate). This ratio is 5:1.

5 positive interactions (such as laughing, playing, saying “I love you”) for every 1 negative interaction (the really unpleasant stuff that we don’t like to think about).

In other words, successful couples have 5 times as many positive interactions as negative ones.


What is most striking about this ratio is that it is in no way balanced…we’re not talking about 1 positive interaction balancing 1 negative interaction. We need 5 positive interactions to balance 1 negative interaction. The negative interactions have far more ability to inflict pain and damage than we probably realize!

So, why is this research important? It’s important because it is a concrete way of saying that we have to be careful and conscientious of what we do in our relationships. We are responsible (don’t worry, our partners are too) to bring the positive on full force.  We are also responsible for limiting the negative and for owning up to it when we do something that does inflict pain.

Tell your partner that you love them. Tell your partner how much he or she means to you. And apologize when the negative slips out…we are all human so don’t be too hard on yourself when it does slip out!

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