Romantic partners influence each other’s goals, a new study has found out. A study on more than 450 couples from researchers from the University of Basel found out that what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid or achieve, so too does the other partner, and the effects can be observed regardless of gender, age and length of the relationship.
The researchers wanted to examine the short- and long-term interdependence of approach goals and avoidance goals within couples. The participants started with reporting whether they had tried to avoid conflicts or share meaningful experiences with their partner that day. Following this, an analysis of how the information affected the partner's goals.
The goals were assessed daily over the course of two 14-day measurement periods at an interval of 10 to 12 months. A total of 456 couples took part, and the average age of the participants was just under 34 years old, and the average relationship length was almost 10 years. The study had appeared in the latest issue of The Journal of Gerontology. The team of psychologists is led by first author Professor Jana Nikitin.
The study revealed that when one person in a couple avoids distress and conflicts, for example, the other tries to do the same. Conversely, when one person seeks personal growth and meaningful experiences, the other wants to achieve them too.
It was notable that the daily goals of one partner - which can change - mainly coincided with the medium- and longer-term goal trends of the other partner. It, therefore, takes several days to months for the long-term relationship goals of one partner to have an impact on the goals of the other.
“This could be an adaptive mechanism to maintain the stability of the relationship, by not being influenced by every momentary shift made by the partner,” said Nikitin, as quoted by a news agency.