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If you and your partner were a mathematical graph, would you be a series of gentle waves or a volatile zigzag of highs and lows? Because according to a new study, mathematicians say they can predict whether or not your relationship will survive.
Modeled after a well-known mathematical system that charted Romeo and Juliet's relationship in 1988, scientists at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands constructed a two-dimensional model that charts the complex dynamic of real-life relationships, this time placing more emphasis on how partners react to each other.
That's to say, the response times between reactions to one another.
For their relationship model, scientists looked at parameters such as a person's reactivity to their partner's romantic history.
In the end, authors found that for a broad class of relationships, delays in reactivity can bring stability to couples who may have previously been unstable.
That may mean taking a deep breath before spouting something hurtful in the heat of the moment, or knowing how to read a partner's emotions and adjusting tone and conversation accordingly.
Because emotional reactivity that's either too quick or too slow can lead to destabilization of relationships, authors note, and could signal trouble.
The study was published in Applied Mathematics and Computation and released last week.
Another study published in 2011 also found that couples who go out with other couples regularly are more likely to have happier and satisfying relationships.