How Much Closeness Guarantees A Healthy Relationship?
Ask anyone you know how close they think a relationship should be in order to be a happy, healthy relationship, and they will probably respond “as close as possible”. However, this may not be entirely true.
A Healthy Relationship Is One That’s As Close As You Both Want
In reality, it turns out that the key to a balanced relationship isn’t to go after as much closeness as you can, but to pursue the level and degree of closeness that you both desire. In other words, it isn’t about how close you can get, but how close you both want to get at any given time in your relationship. The more you agree on that, the happier you’ll be.
A study titled “Closeness Discrepancies in Romantic Relationships”, conducted by David Frost (Columbia University) and Cat Forrester (San Francisco University) sought to examine how the discrepancies between the real and desired levels of closeness affect relationships.
The study used a sample of 732 men and women and took 3 years to conclude. The surveys involved questions pertaining to relationship closeness, satisfaction, commitment, thinking about breaking up, and depression. It employed a psychological method of evaluation called “Inclusion of Other in Self (IOS), with 6 sets of circles representing main personal details such as values, personality characteristic and personal points of views, overlapping more or less depending on the couple’s answers. The degree to which these circles overlapped represented the closeness of each couple.
The Survey Findings
It turned out that a whopping 75% of those taking part in the study would like to be closer to their partner. A modest 37% reported to be happy with the way things were in their relationship as far as closeness was concerned, and a 5% even said they felt they were closer to their partner than they wished to be.
What is significant about this survey, though, is that it found that satisfaction in the relationship was not really determined by how close the partners were to one another, but by the degree to which they agreed about the level of closeness they wanted. The more they disagreed on this, the unhappier they were in their relationship. It was determined, then, that the bigger the “closeness discrepancy”, the bigger the possibility of breaking up or divorcing was.
It seems that wishing to get as close as possible to our partner, thinking this is what will give our relationships more chances of success, is a wrong approach and a fallacy. A healthy relationship is, after all, one that is as close as we and our partners want it to be.