What Relationship Experts Know About Dating That You Don't
Frustrating but true: The more narcissistic a person is, the more beguiling they seem when you first meet them. The discovery came out of a recent study in the European Journal of Personality where researchers had subjects take personality tests before they went on speed dates with other participants. Men and women who displayed more narcissistic characteristics were rated as more desirable for both short- and long-term relationships by their fellow speed daters. (Keep in mind that the researchers weren't measuring clinical narcissistic personality disorder, but if you meet someone with that, even more reason to run very far away.)
We wondered how it could possibly be that subjects failed to spot a self-centered person when they were literally sitting right in front of them, but lead study author Emanuel Jauk, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Graz, in Austria, has an explanation. "The positive aspects of narcissism, like charm, self-confidence and assertiveness, seem to dominate the first impression," says Jauk. "The rather undesirable aspects, like self-absorbedness, arrogance and entitlement, are harder to recognize at first." Jauk says narcissists may even try to charm people they're not actually interested in because they crave admiration from everyone, not just the people they like. (If you've got a narcissist in your life, romantic or not, we've got advice on how to deal with them here.)
2. An Attractive Stranger's Jokes Can Reveal Their Intentions
If you're looking for love and the person you're chatting with is using the old flirtatious-teasing approach (think self-deprecating jokes or using other people, like, well, you, as the punch line), you're probably not after the same thing. Both men and women tend to use this type of negative humor when they're interested in something short-term, found one study led by Theresa DiDonato, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland. There's a catch though: Subjects were more likely to use positive jokes, like pointing out the awkwardness of hitting on someone at the bar, when they were pursuing short- and long-term relationships. So while a warmer sense of humor is no guarantee that you're on the same page, a string of darker jokes is a warning sign that you're definitely not.
3. The Odds of Whether You Two Will Stay Together
There are four types of couples, found a 2016 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, and depending on which category you and your partner fall into, these researchers say they can predict how likely you two are to get married.
After interviewing more than 170 couples about their relationships over the course of nine months, the researchers came up with these four types: dramatic, conflict-ridden, socially involved and partner-focused. Dramatic couples had lots of highs and lows, little in common with each other, and not much overlap in their social networks; conflict-ridden duos dealt with lots of (you guessed it) conflicts in addition to separate social networks, and were the most likely to have a love based on passion; socially involved pairs' relationships were grounded in friendship, they tended to socialize as a pair and said that influential people in their lives, like their parents, really liked their partner; partner-focused couples had shared interests and spent more of their time together than other couples, but each had their own separate circles of friends.
Not surprisingly, dramatic couples were twice as likely as any other type to break up during the study. Of the remaining three, partner-focused pairs turned out to be the most likely to move toward marriage, says lead author Brian Ogolsky, PhD, assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That's not to say that socially involved couples are doing anything wrong. They tend to develop deeper levels of commitment over time with fewer ups and down than any other type of couple, including partner-focused. Think of them as a slower but steadier burn in the right direction.
If you and your partner sound like the conflict-ridden duos though, a surprising word of warning: They're less combustible than dramatic couples, but the most likely to stay in the same spot commitment-wise, not moving toward a breakup or toward marriage. So if you want a relationship that progresses, it might be time to look elsewhere.