How have you fared in Valentine Debriefing Open Season 2014? You know how it is—if you were lucky enough to have a valentine, then every friend, coworker, and inquisitive relative feels somehow entitled to all the details after your big day. Reliving Valentine’s Day can be fun and rewarding if things are going well with your partner. But maybe February 14th wasn’t quite what you expected this year. Maybe you two had a fight. Maybe your partner let you down in some way. Maybe after the last chocolate wrapper fluttered into the trashcan, you found yourself questioning things. How is this going? Will this relationship last?
Whether your Valentine’s Day was lovely or a letdown, go ahead and take today’s relationship quiz (if you’re in a relationship, that is). It’s short—just 7 questions—and will give you instant feedback about your short-term prognosis at the end. I recommend taking it now, before reading further, so you can give your natural responses.
Editors’ note: This quiz is part of an informal project on great relationships conducted by contributor Melissa Schneider, LMSW, and is not supervised or conducted by ScienceOfRelationships.com, other contributors, or the academic institutions affiliated with other contributors.
So, how can this little quiz help you figure out if you’ll still be dating your partner in six months? If you’ve been following my quiz series, then you know ScienceOfRelationship’s very own Dr. Benjamin Le and colleagues hunkered down some years ago to crunch numbers on over thirty-thousand dating folks in the U.S., Europe, and Canada.1 When the calculation smoke had cleared, they had something pretty special: a shiny, ranked list of relationship factors that make a difference in whether a couple stays together or breaks up in the future.
Well, as a couples counselor and social scientist, I thought that was pretty cool. I immediately “wanted one”—that is, I wanted to translate all that predictive know-how into something I could use to evaluate my clients’ dating relationships. So, I started making predictive relationship quizzes that anyone can take to get some feedback about where things are going.
Today you’re reading my fourth article on the subject, and I’m going to tell you about Dr. Le’s fourth best predictor: a specific kind of closeness or intimacy known as “IOS,” shorthand for “inclusion of other in the self.” It’s a bit of a mouthful, admittedly, but IOS is worth the trouble because it gives us powerful peek at a dating couple’s future status.
What is IOS exactly? In the IOS-brand of intimacy, you and your partner actually start to merge identities and self-concepts. For example, you start to influence each other’s interests or opinions, react personally to each other’s successes or failures, and take on each other’s resources or abilities as your own. You catch yourself saying “we,” “our,” and “us” a lot more than “I,” “me,” and “my.” Essentially, you blur your own lines as you become closer to someone else.
Some relationship researchers even argue that this “inclusion” process is what makes falling in love so thrilling. As you grow close to someone, you literally stretch yourself wider to include them, which helps you grow as a person. Expanding—it’s a rush.
Cool philosophy aside, how well can this business of including your partner in your self-concept actually predict you future status as a couple? The short answer is that it helps, but it’s not the whole ball of wax. In two older studies,2 IOS scores did predict “breakup status” after three or six months, but the effect was rather small. Essentially, IOS explained about 20% of the difference in outcomes between couples who stayed together and those who broke up. In Dr. Le’s meta-analysis, though, a more recent and much stronger test of any factor’s predictive mettle, the IOS narrowly missed the cutoff for a “large effect” on future relationship status. It landed well ahead of nine other factors in the “moderate effect” category, beating trusty-sounding predictors like, well, trust, as you can see in this infographic.
What does all of this mean for you if you’re in a relationship? It means that your score on today’s quiz gives you a pretty good guess about where your relationship is going. All things being equal, if you got a high score, and somebody else got a below-average score, then you’re more likely to be dating your partner in six months than that other person.
If you got a low score, then take a moment to reflect on what it might be telling you. Maybe you’re in a new relationship and you’re still figuring things out. Or maybe you’ve been together for a while, but you’re not sure if this is the person for you. If your relationship is going well, though, then don’t be overly discouraged by a low score. Maybe you or your partner just need a little more time to build closeness and intimacy.
Here’s one tip for getting closer over the next six months: engage in novel and challenging activities with your partner at least once a week. These can be anything that sounds exciting to you both, from sky-diving or a get-away vacation to just enjoying a sunset or a photography class together. Lots of research3 suggests that fostering a lifestyle of novelty and exploration as a couple can bring you closer. So, go try some new things, have fun, then come back next month and take the IOS quiz again to see how you’re doing.
Finally, here’s that quiz one last time!
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1Le, B., Dove, N., Agnew, C., Korn, M., & Mutso, A. (2010). Predicting nonmarital relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis. Personal Relationships, 17, 377-390.
2Aron, A., Aron, E. & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the self and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 596-612. And:
3Aron, A., Lewandowski, G. Mashek, D. & Aron, E. (2013). The self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in close relationships. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Close Relationships (pp. 90-115). USA: Oxford University Press.
Melissa Schneider – Science Of Relationships articles | Website
Melissa is a licensed Dating and Relationships Counselor and the Co-Founder of LuvWise.com. Follow her blog or connect on Twitter. Take her free relationship test or work with her to get over that breakup and learn how to build your own great relationship, right from the very first date– find out how.