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Scientists invent a chart to predict couples’ success

sex and relationships Updated: Nov 22, 2012 16:16 IST
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If you and your partner were a mathematical graph, would you be a series of gentle waves or a volatile zigzag of highs and lows? Because, according to a new study, mathematicians say they can predict whether or not your relationship will survive.

Modelled after a well-known mathematical system that charted Romeo and Juliet’s relationship in 1988, scientists at the Radboud University in the Netherlands have constructed a two-dimensional model that charts the complex dynamic of real-life relationships, this time placing more emphasis on how partners react to each other. That’s to say, the response times between reactions to one another. For their relationship model, scientists looked at parameters such as a person’s reactivity to their partner’s romantic history.

In the end, the authors found that for a broad class of relationships, delays in reactivity can bring stability to couples who may have previously been unstable.

That may mean taking a deep breath before spouting something hurtful in the heat of the moment, or knowing how to read a partner’s emotions and adjusting tone and conversation accordingly.

Because emotional reactivity that’s either too quick or too slow can lead to destabilisation of relationships, authors note, and could signal trouble. The study was published in Applied Mathematics and Computation and released last week.