14 Fascinating Things We Learned About Relationships In 2016

New studies about relationships and dating come out almost every single day, so keeping up with the huge amount of research out there can be pretty overwhelming. On top of that, many studies seem to contradict each other, so reading about them too often can make you feel like they aren’t reliable at all. While it’s true that some studies out there aren’t super accurate (like the ones done on small focus groups that don’t accurately represent the population out there), the research collected from some of them can be extremely helpful. Some give obvious results, but others are way more interesting. 2016 was a year full of fascination info about relationships, taken from scientific studies.

You obviously shouldn’t plan your dating life around science, but knowing the latest research can definitely be essential when you’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on in your relationship. It gives us insight into what others think, and sometimes makes us feel less alone when we realize a “weird” thought or urge we had is shared by many other people out there. Since it’s impossible to keep track of everything scientists and researchers discovered about the dating world, let’s discuss the studies that really stood out this past year. Here are some fascinating things we learned about relationships in  2016: 

The Ideal Number Of Sexual Partners Is...

Something a lot of us wonder about quite often is whether or not we should be honest with our bae about how many people we slept with before we met them. And while it varies from person to person, there IS an ideal number of sex partners an S.O. would want to hear about - at least according to science. Research found that three people was the ideal number people felt comfortable about their bae having. The study found that the higher the number of partners, the more hesitant the S.O. felt about the person. This is kind of discouraging, but the study only looked at 188 people, so... it definitely needs to be larger.

Source: iStock

Couples Who Drink Together Are More Likely To Stay Together

So, here's something weird: a study of about 3,000 people found that couples who drank together were more likely to stay together than couples who didn't (where one partner drank and the other didn't). In fact, relationships were more likely to fail if one person drank and the other didn't. The study also found that couples who abstained from drinking altogether were in the best shape. This is probably because it means the people are on the same page, which is always a positive.

Source: iStock

A One-Year Age Gap Is Ideal

According to one study done this year, there is an ideal age gap for a relationship that means you're more likely to stay together: one year. The study looked at 3,000 people and found that the larger the age gap, the more likely it is that the couple would break up eventually. Of course, this isn't ALWAYS the case - I'm sure we all know at least one couple with a large gap who are very happy - but it is definitely worth thinking about. A large age gap typically means you're in different places in life, and that can be really tough to get through.

Source: iStock

The Best Gift To Give A Significant Other Is....

Wondering what kind of gift to give bae during the holidays or for their birthday? As it turns out, science has discovered the best gift you can give: an experience. A study found that giving an experience as a gift is the best because it makes the couple feel closer and helps them bond. An example would be a vacation for the two of you, some kind of cool adventure, or even concert tickets. The experience strengthens the relationship and is fun for both people.

Source: iStock

Selfies Could Ruin Your Relationship

We already know that too much phone and social media use can have a negative impact on our relationship, but what about selfies? Recent research found that taking selfies can be bad for your relationship. The study connected selfies with people who feel confident in themselves, which is great. Unfortunately, it also found that someone who posts a lot of selfies might have problems with their partner due to jealousy about attention the photos receive. The research found that when one person posts a lot of selfies, their S.O. might end up feeling threatened, as well as feeling less intimacy and emotional support. Deep!

Source: iStock

Binge Watching Is Good For Your Relationship

Attention, Netflix lovers: binge watching is good for your love life. Well, if you do it with your partner. One study found that binge-watching together is a great activity for a couple - so good that it can replace the benefits of hanging with mutual friends. The research found that binge-watching a TV show together was similar to the effects of socializing together. Who says you ever need to leave the house??

Source: iStock

How You Sleep Affects Your Relationship

If you're not getting enough sleep, that could mean something is wrong in your relationship. One study found that happier couples sleep better overall, while unhappy couples suffered from lack of sleep. This is because being in a bad relationship causes stress and anxiety, making it harder to sleep.

Source: iStock

Happy Couples Post Less On Social Media

You know that couple who can't stop going on and on about how in love they are on every social media page? Well, they might not be doing as great as the couple who rarely posts anything about their significant other. One study found that couples who post more online are more insecure about their relationship, while another one found that those who post more are dependent on their relationship for happiness. So, those couples who post less? They might be feeling more secure about their relationship AND themselves.

Source: iStock

There Are 4 Types Of Couples

Earlier this year, three different relationship scientists studied about 400 unwed couples and found that there are four different types of couples out there. What are they? Let's discuss.

One: The On-Again/Off-Again Couple. You know them - the couple that fights constantly, breaks up every other week, can't be apart for too long, and thrives off the passion and emotion from fighting and making up.

Two: The Dramatic Couple. This is kind of confusing, but it's the couple that thrives off drama, like fighting. This couple experiences a lot of arguments and allows outside factors to affect their relationship, making things messy.

Three: The Social Couple. This is the couple that seems to spend more time with friends than just the two of them. They have lots of mutual friends, their hang-outs usually involve a group, and they love to go out and have a good time.

Four: The Serious, Focused Couple. This is the couple that consists of two people who are totally focused on each other. They're committed, in love, thoughtful, and serious about their relationship. Not surprisingly, this is the strongest couple.

So... which one are you?

Source: iStock

We Stay In Bad Relationships Because...

It's easy to look at a terrible couple and think, "Why the hell do they stay together?" Well, science has answers. One study found that people are more likely to stay in a bad relationship if they have already invested a lot of time, effort, and/or money into it. Basically, people stick around when they feel like they've already really tried so that they don't feel they wasted their time. That kind of sucks.

Source: iStock

Healthy Relationships Make You Happier Than Money

You know the saying "money isn't everything?" Well, as it turns out, science may have proven that to be true this year. One study from the U.K. found that money does not make people happier, but being in a healthy relationship does. It's easy to assume that having a lot of money is the key to being happy, but being loaded is definitely not the same as making a meaningful connection with someone you care about.

Source: iStock

You CAN Be Too Busy For A Relationship

There are lots of excuses people use for not wanting to be in a relationship, but one that is often called out as being crap is the one where someone says, "I'm too busy to date someone now." However, psychologists told Glamour that this can definitely be a legitimate excuse. They say that someone using that excuse could actually realize they really are too busy to focus on someone else in their lives.

Source: iStock

Being In A Happy Relationship Changes How You See Others

Recent research found something interesting: a happy relationship changes how you see other people, even if you don't realize it. The study found that people in relationships found attractive single people less attractive than they were, something called "downgrading." It's a defense mechanism people use sub-consciously to protect their relationship against threats. It's worth noting that this only happened with people in happy relationships.

Source: iStock

Romantic Comedies Affect Our Relationship Judgement

Surprise, surprise - research this year found that rom-coms are messing with our heads, at least when it comes to dating. It's kind of scary though - they're actually normalizing stalking and making it seem romantic. Women who saw romantic versions of stalking in movies were more likely to think of the behavior as good. This is... not ideal. Stalking is serious and scary, and it sucks that movies so often make it seem sweet.

Which one of these studies did you find the most interesting? What did we forget to add? Share in the comments!

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

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