A Couple’s ‘How We Met’ Story Can Predict Their Future

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“So, how’d you guys meet?” It’s a simple question, but the way a couple tells their origin story speaks volumes about the health of their relationship. 

That’s according to a 1992 paper in the Journal of Family Psychology that’s become something of a social psychology classic. In it, researchers recorded 52 married couples as they shared their “oral histories,” including how they met and their initial impressions of each other. The researchers then rated each oral history for its positive and negative aspects.

As it turned out, the way the couples had relayed their story predicted divorce or marital stability with 94 percent accuracy. The couples who told their stories in a more withdrawn, negative manner were more likely to have split three years later, while couples who told their stories in a more expressive, open way tended to stick it out. All couples face hard times, it’s true, but the couples who were more likely to stay together spoke about those tough moments with more fondness and nostalgia than the couples who eventually parted ways.

To be clear, it doesn’t matter how you met your significant other, according to this research. Science of Us recently camped out on the High Line on a sunny afternoon in order to ask couples this very question, and some of those who seemed happiest had some relatively unconventional stories: Take the German woman who met her New York fella after renting an apartment from him via Airbnb, or the pair that met at a charity dog show, or the couple who transformed a Grindr hookup into a real relationship.

Sure, this is all anecdotal, but it ties into the powerful, research-backed notion that how you tell your relationship origin story matters more than the plotline itself.