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math-love

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a crystal ball to predict exactly how long you and your love would stay together? Well, science is still working on that, but in the meantime, maybe you can use this handy equation to figure out your romantic future. Because, you know … math.

Hannah Fry, a math lecturer at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis in London and the author of the book, The Mathematics of Love, devised an equation that measures your relationship’s success rate. Her research suggests that the best predictors of how long you’ll stay together has to do with how positive and negative a couple can be to one another.

This sounds like common knowledge, but it’s actually a lot more complex than that. Fry incorporates psychologist John Gottman’s scientific study of married couples, who monitored everything from their vital signs to their facial expressions in specific circumstances.

From Gottman’s findings, Fry developed the below equation which represents reactions presented by a husband and wife as they move through an interaction.

The equation, according to Fry, predicts whether the next moment of the conversation will be positive or negative. Couples with more positive interactions are considered low-risk and are less likely to break up, whereas high risk couples have evidence of more negativity.

We should note that Fry’s equation is based on Gottman’s research, which focused on heterosexual married couples beginning in the 1970s, so the results are not inclusive of LGBTQ+ relationships. Fry however cites that the equation can be applied to same-sex couples and those in long-term relationships. While there may be more research to do on the topic, Fry does reach some conclusions.

“The most successful relationships are the ones with a really low negativity threshold,” Fry writes. “In those relationships, couples allow each other to complain, and work together to constantly repair the tiny issues between them. In such a case, couples don’t bottle up their feelings, and little things don’t end up being blown completely out of proportion.”

This is all very complicated, but Business Insider’s Jenna Goudreau, who took a deep dive into Fry’s work, does a good job of translating it for us.

“Happy couples, then, tend to have more positive interactions than negative ones,” explains Goudreau, “and thus are more likely to give each other the benefit of a doubt. When there is an issue, they’re more likely to bring it up quickly, fix it, and move on.” And if you can move on, you’re bound to stick it out in the long run.

If you can manage, plug your own relationship stats into the formula to see where you guys stand in the long term. All those folks who said we’d never use math in the real world, didn’t know it could be so practical.

For more on the study, check out Business Insider’s coverage, here and watch Fry’s Ted Talk, here.

(Images via TED/iStock)