What does it take to make a relationship work? Depending on whom you ask, the answer will vary. Ask a person who is divorced or who has been married for years, and they might say trust or commitment. Ask someone who has been dating for a few weeks or months, and they might think it’s chemistry. Perhaps compatibility, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Recently I had the opportunity to take a look at JDate and ChristianMingle’s 2014 State of Dating in America Report. An online survey was administered to men and female respondents ranging from 18-59 years of age. Of those surveyed, some were dating, had the intention of dating, or were in a committed relationship. The study covered various topics, but what I found most interesting was what respondents deemed as the key to successful relationships.
What It Takes to Make a Relationship Work 1 of 8
The Same Race/Ethnicity 2 of 8
Seventy-five percent of men and 72 percent of women felt that race was an important factor in a relationship being successful. In a day where interracial couples count for a significant portion of the population, it is interesting to see race considered as a factor in success. Many of my closest friends are in interracial marriages and are going the distance, thus debunking the belief that race constitutes relationship success.
Same Socio-Economic Background and Income 3 of 8
There's a saying that goes, "love doesn't pay the bills." For some couples, it doesn't pay the bills, but it is enough to keep them holding on even when the bills aren't getting paid. Even so, money is a leading contributor for failed relationships, and, as a result, it makes sense that people would want to have socio-economic compatibility with the person they are in a relationship with. Turns out, 72 percent of respondents shared the belief that socio-economic status was important to a relationship's success. Additionally, 64 percent of women and 69 percent of men felt a similar income was important. Nevertheless, limiting ourselves to someone in our same SES might cause one to miss out on a hidden gem. (Photo Credit: 401 (K) 2012 via Flickr)
Praying Together 4 of 8
I personally can speak to the importance of prayer in a relationship. It is an integral part of my marriage. The respondents of the survey and I definitely have this in common. Interestingly enough, men placed more value on prayer than women. Seventy-one percent of men and only fifty-seven percent of women felt prayer was key. (Photo Credit: Jan Smith via Flickr)
Similar Political Beliefs 5 of 8
Politics is one of those topics that is often deemed taboo. A discussion on politics can easily become heated resulting in frustration. For some couples, navigating a relationship with someone who doesn't share your political views is more than they are willing to take on. As a result, they shy away from dating someone who doesn't share their beliefs. Sixty-three percent of respondents felt being with someone who held similar political beliefs was important. (Photo Credit: Ginny via Flickr)
Same Religious Background 6 of 8
While many people are able to look beyond race and ethnicity, religious differences can be more difficult to overcome. For many people their religion and/or spirituality provides them with the blueprint of which they live their lives. So much of who they are is rooted in this. As a result, dating someone who doesn't share your views can be difficult. While sometimes one person is willing to convert, countless individuals make the decision to pursue a relationship with someone who doesn't share similar beliefs. For 68% of respondents, having the same religious background was important. (Photo Credit: Baltimore Heritage via Flickr)
Similar Career Goals 7 of 8
When you are in a relationship, you tend to support one another. You want the best for the person you are with and help them in their quest to be the best they can be. For some couples, being likeminded when it comes to your careers can make this easier. Dating someone with the same career goals may mean you are able to understand each other in addition to offer each other with a stronger support system. However, it seems it might come with its share of challenges. (Photo Credit: David Chico Pam via Flickr)
Similar Levels of Education 8 of 8
Fifty-six percent of respondents felt it was important to be with someone with a comparable education. While that certainly makes way for some insightful conversation, I wonder if this ties back to other areas such as income and career. Those with an education will often have an increased chance at accomplishing career goals and achieving financial security. (Photo Credit: Nik via Flickr)
As interesting as I found the findings of the study, I can’t help but think how different their answers might look down the road. For many of us, time is a valuable teacher. Participants of this survey ranged from 18 to 59 years of age. But perhaps even greater of a teacher than time is actual experience. The things we face as we travel through time shape us in monumental ways. Similar income may be important to you until you experience a layoff and lose everything. Suddenly money isn’t everything. Love and support is. And prayer may have held little weight until some sort of turmoil has plagued your family, and you discover all you have to cling to is your faith and the prayers you send forth. And then there’s a matter of meeting “the one.” That one person who changes your life, impacting you in such a way that your dating prerequisites weren’t all that important. Suddenly race and the compatibility of your career goals no longer matter. Things like character and integrity do. Because so many things can change.
Income can change.
Socio-economic status can change.
Religion can change.
Even our level of education can change.
But who we are — the very essence of each of us — isn’t so easily changed. There’s a reason why “character counts.” Sure, having these in common might help make your relationship go more smoothly from the start, but I don’t think they are a requirement for the kind of love so many of us desire to have. The love that lasts a lifetime.
Survey Source: Jennifer Regnier, firstname.lastname@example.org