Is changing partners really that exciting? Maybe not.
Washington: While the idea of romancing someone new might seem exciting and different, a recent study has suggested it isn't true. The study published in the 'Journal of Family Psychology' has found that the dynamics of a relationship remain the same even if you change your partner.
An eight-year long study of 554 people in Germany showed that eventually, they had the same dynamics in new partnerships as in past broken relationships after the glow of the honeymoon phase had faded.
"Although some relationship dynamics may change, you are still the same person, so you likely recreate many of the same patterns with the next partner," said lead author Matthew Johnson, a University of Alberta relationship researcher. "New love is great, but relationships continue past that point," Johnson added.
Researchers surveyed people at four points: a year before their first intimate relationship ended and again in the final year, then within the first year of the new relationship and again a year after that. Seven relationship aspects were reviewed, including satisfaction, frequency of sex, ability to open up to a partner, how often they expressed appreciation for the other person and confidence in whether the relationship would last.
All but two aspects were stable across the past and present relationships. The exceptions were frequency of sex and expressing admiration for your partner, both of which increased in the second relationship. "These aspects are directly dependent on a partner's behaviour, so we are more likely to see changes in these areas," he said.
People may feel that a new relationship is different but that's because of how past partnerships end, the study showed. "Things get worse as a relationship ends, and when we start a new one, everything is wonderful at first, because we're not involving our partner in everyday life like housework and childcare," Johnson explained.
But most relationship dynamics during the middle phase of the prior relationship, when things were going well, were similar to those of the second relationship after the initial honeymoon phase had passed. In fact, relationships end for a lot of reasons and breaking up shouldn't necessarily be seen as a failure, Johnson added. The downside of bringing the same dynamic to new relationships is that people may not be learning from their mistakes.
"This research shows that chances are, you are going to fall into the same patterns in many aspects of the relationship. Even if things are different, they're not guaranteed to be better," Johnson opined. It's important to have an honest view of our past romances as we move into new ones, Johnson advised.