Is he the one?
So there is a guy in your class and you both like each other a lot. At least this is what you think. But when you sleep at night, you often wonder – are we on the same page? Does he think the same about me? Or simply put, is he the right one?
Who doesn’t want to know if the guy or girl they’ve just started dating is ‘the one’. Well, you’re in luck – or at least, sort of. That’s because a group of researchers were curious about something that’s often overlooked in studies on romance – the early stages of a relationship when couples are just getting to know each other.
Short-term romance or?
Recent research reveals the differences between short-term romance and long-term love. What they wanted to know was this – during those first few weeks and months, how is short-term romance different from long-term love?
To answer this question, researchers tracked down over 800 people of all ages. They had the participants fill in surveys that included all the juicy details about past short-term and long-term relationships. When all the surveys were in, the researchers went about comparing the two kinds of relationships to see how they differ.
Going up and up
What they found was that they don’t differ all that much – at least at first. As the study’s lead author, Paul Eastwick, put it in a press release, ‘In the beginning, there is no strong evidence that people can tell whether a given relationship will be long-term and serious or short-term and casual.’
For example, some pretty major things are similar between short-term lovers and long-term partners, including the amount of sexual desire a person feels for them, the researchers learned.
And in both types of relationships, partners are just as interested in each other at first. But at some point, romantic interest plateaus or decreases in a casual affair whereas in a serious one, it keeps going up and up.
Sex as the determiner?
This often happens around the time a couple starts having sex, the researchers learned. It’s then that they might have an inkling about whether they’ll want to be with a person for the long-term.
As Eastwick explained, ‘People would hook up with some partners for the first time and think ‘wow, this is pretty good’. People tried to turn those experiences into long-term relationships. Others sparked more of a ‘meh’ reaction. Those were the short-term ones.’
Not surprisingly, another difference that appears around this time is how much couples look after each other and how attached they become to one another.
So what’s the take-home message from this research? Contrary to popular belief, you can’t always tell if someone is ‘the one’ right away. In fact, it might take a while before you know.
So instead of dismissing a girl or guy you’ve just started dating because of a minor issue, it’s worth keeping your mind open to see where things go.
Reference: What do short-term and long-term relationships look like? Building the relationship coordination and strategic timing (ReCAST) model. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Published May, 2018.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.