Top Five Elements of Successful Romantic Relationships as Reported by Older Adults

field of roses“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
~ Alfred Tennyson

A Psychology Today article entitled Love at any Age, explores the subject of romantic relationships. The article states, “from the perspective of psychological science, good quality relationships of all kinds, including quality romantic relationships, have a profound impact on physical health and psychological well-being”.

The article points out that it is the quality of the relationship that is most important and this begs the questions, “what makes a good quality romantic relationship?” and “what makes a good quality romantic relationship last?”

A study was conducted that set out to “to identify and examine relations between elements of romantic relationship success as described by younger and older adults”. The results concluded that the top five most highly rated elements of successful romantic relationships as rated by older adults were:

  1. Honesty
  2. Communication
  3. Companionship
  4. Respect
  5. Positive Attitude

Top five for younger adults:

  1. Love
  2. Communication
  3. Trust
  4. Attraction
  5. Compatibility

In addition to the top five, older adults also identified shared religious beliefs and socializing as a couple, as the key elements of successful romantic relationships. Younger adults, on the other hand, emphasized attraction and compatibility.

With regards to the most important element of successful relationships honesty appears to be the best policy according to the older adults in this study. They interpreted honesty as “able to confide in one another in a truthful way”.

Interestingly, the younger cohort in the study did not identify honesty as an element for successful relationships, they emphasized trust and communication as the most important elements.

“Honesty is an interesting concept as it involves self disclosure and risks putting an individual in a vulnerable position, and yet the ability to disclose honestly in a mindful, trusting and sensitive fashion can facilitate a deeper level of intimacy in the relationship”.

The article proposes, that since previous research suggests that ‘self acceptance increases with age’, older adults have the ability draw on their wealth of experience to recognize the importance of honesty as an essential key to successful relationships.

Whatever you believe are the most important elements of successful relationships, celebrate your past and present relationships this Valentine’s Day.


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