The 5 to 1 Ratio Just Might Be The Key To A Happy Relationship

What’s the secret to a happy relationship? Sadly, there’s no one answer to this question. Love is complicated and humans are too. There are many things that determine how a partnership will go, but that doesn’t mean you’re entirely powerless here. Focusing on achieving the 5 to 1 ratio in your relationship can go a long way in keeping things strong for the long haul.

What is the 5 to 1 ratio in relationships?

Identified by relationship researcher John Gottman, the 5 to 1 ratio was found to be the key to happy partnerships. In essence, for every one negative feeling you have or thing you experience with your partner, you’ll need five positive ones to make up for it and maintain relationship wellness. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that couples who are happiest together and who have the most fulfilling partnerships are the ones who have a lot more good things going on than bad ones.

So, what constitutes a negative interaction? An argument about pretty much anything is up there, but it’s not the only culprit. Criticism, disrespect, neglect, and lack of affection are just a few other things that upset the 5 to 1 ratio and can lead a partnership down a pretty miserable road toward an inevitable breakup.

How to keep the ratio balanced

Chances are, you don’t think about the 5 to 1 ratio in your everyday life, nor should you. However, everyone would love to maintain relationship harmony, so here are a few ways to do it.

  1. Appreciate your partner – don’t take them for granted. It’s easy to get used to all the things your partner does on a daily basis to make your life (and your lives together) better and easier. However, this is a mistake. Never take their gestures, no matter how small, for granted. Thank them for the things they do and show genuine appreciation in your own actions.
  2. Laugh together. Life can get incredibly heavy sometimes, which is why it’s so important to make sure you still remember to laugh. Bringing a bit of levity to your relationship will work wonders for maintaining that magical 5 to 1 relationship ratio. Being able to laugh at yourself and at situations that crop up can reduce stress and anger as well as help you bond as a couple.
  3. Show affectionate outside the bedroom. It’s fine and well to be affectionate during sex, but you need to take this to non-sexual situations as well. Give them a quick peck on the lips, hold their hand, rub their back, and offer physical touch. This is reassuring and makes your partner feel loved and cared for.
  4. Be sympathetic and empathetic. You may not always agree with your partner or understand what they’re going through. However, you can empathize and sympathize with them, and you should. Listen to what they’re going through. Put yourself in their shoes and relate to them. Doing so will show unwavering support and concern and will help them feel understood.
  5. Practice healthy communication. Don’t beat around the bush if something is on your mind. Make sure to communicate your thoughts and feelings clearly and directly. That being said, remember to listen as well. Your opinions and thoughts matter, but so do your partner’s. Hear them out and make sure to keep a healthy dialogue going.
  6. Continue to show interest in your partner. Just because you’ve been together for a while doesn’t mean you should feel like your job of wooing your partner is done. Everyone wants to feel wanted. Your partner will want to feel that you still like them as much as you did when you first got together. Pursue them, make them feel special, and show them that you’re as into them now as you ever were.
  7. Accept them without judgment. They’re not perfect, but neither are you. Love them for who they are now. Encourage them to be the best version of themself but meet them where they are. Don’t judge them for their shortcomings or condescend. Doing so will majorly upset the 5 to 1 ratio.
  8. Don’t forget to keep dating. In addition to showing interest, you also have to make the effort to keep the love alive. Set aside one day/night a week when you can go out and have fun and go on a date together. You’ll be shocked at what a big difference it makes.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill