You can’t really quantify love, but since April is National Couples Appreciation Month (as the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com have declared), and survey data is MFour’s business, we decided to try. Here’s what we found in a study of 400 men and 400 woman ages 18 to 70 who are currently married or in a relationship.
The key takeaway is that when it comes to love, American couples believe overwhelmingly that their romances will last – regardless of cold, hard, academic research data to the contrary. An oft-cited University of Denver study concluded that if current socioeconomic factors remain unchanged, 42% to 45% of new American marriages can be expected to end in divorce. But when we popped the bottom line question -- “Will you be with this person forever?” -- our respondents didn't hesitate to affirm their faith in lasting love. Optimism prevailed over pessimism by a margin of six to one.
- Asked if their relationship would be unending, 60.6% chose “Yes, absolutely” and an additional 25% picked “Yes, most likely” – a combined 85.6% optimism rate.
- Only 3.9% picked “no,” and 10.5% chose “not sure” – for a 14.4% pessimism rate about their relationships.
- When it came to certainty that a relationship would last -- a "Yes, absolutely" answer -- there was a wide gap between married respondents (74.3%) and those who identified themselves as "in a relationship" (48%).
- Factoring in "Yes, most likely" responses, the overall optimism rate totaled 93.1% for married respondents and 78% for "in a relationship" respondents.
- Men (84.8%) and women (85.6%) were nearly equal in their optimism about lasting love.
- Optimism prevailed among the young (83.8% for respondents ages 18-34) and the middle aged (88.1% for ages 35-70).
- Whether they identified as heterosexuals (86.1%), gays or lesbians (81.3%) or bisexuals (85.2%), our respondents believed their current relationship is certain or most likely to last.
- Whites (89%), African Americans (81.4%), Hispanics (78.8%) and Asians (80%) all expressed optimism that they’ve found lasting love with their current partner.
- Optimism about love carries across regions: the Northeast (84.9%), the Midwest (86.4%), the South (89.7%) and the West (78.4%).
The survey also delved into some of the obstacles couples have to overcome.
- Asked who typically wins, 64% of respondents said that they and their partner come out “about even” – a solid vote for a balance of power in lovers' disputes.
- But that means there was a consistent loser in 36% of relationships – and respondents reported a distinct advantage to women when there’s a battle of the sexes.
- Among male respondents in opposite-sex relationships, 26.7% said they typically lost arguments, and only 10.9% said they usually won.
- It was the reverse for women: 23.3% said they usually won arguments, and only 9% said they typically lost.
- In opposite-sex relationships, when couples go out, it’s the man who usually picks up the tab – true in 50.3% of relationships if you believe the survey’s male respondents, and 46.6% if you believe the women.
- Women typically pick up the tab in only 10.8% of relationships, if you ask men, or 6.8% if you ask women.
- 46.6% of women said they and their partners share about equally in picking up the tab; only 39.7% of men concurred.
- Talk about a generation gap: 63% of Baby Boom men (ages 56-70) said they usually pay the tab, compared to 46.3% of 18- to 29-year-old Millennial men.
Heterosexuals were asked whether they would feel uncomfortable if their partner had a friend of the opposite sex who is very attractive.
- 62.9% said they would be “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with that friendship, and 37.1% said they’d be very or somewhat uncomfortable.
- Women reported more uneasiness than men – 42.7% said they’d be uncomfortable about that attractive other, compared to 31.6% of men.
- Age and marital status were indicators for trusting one’s mate with a very attractive friend of the opposite sex: Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 53.6% of respondents said they’d be comfortable with such a friendship, compared to 68.9% of respondents 30 and older. 68.7% of married people said they’d be comfortable with their mate having a "very attractive" friend of the opposite sex, compared to 55.7% of those who aren't married.
- 64% of Caucasians and African Americans said they were comfortable with a spouse or lover having a very attractive friend of the opposite sex, compared to 58% of Hispanics and 54.5% of Asian Americans.
We gave respondents a list of potentially problematic behaviors on the part of a spouse or partner and asked them to identify which would make them uncomfortable.
- Accessing one’s smartphone without permission was the least-tolerated offense – bothersome to 41% of respondents
- Other leading irritants were leaving the bathroom door open (28.8%), using a partner’s social media password (25.9%) and flatulence (19.9%).
- Nearly a third of respondents (31.9%) said none of these behaviors would make them uncomfortable with their partner.
- Women were more tolerant than men, with 34.8% saying they’d be OK with all the behaviors on the list, compared to 29% of men.
Do these results make love any less mysterious? Probably not. Will they add some interesting grist to the never-ending conversation about love? We certainly hope so. And what's our take on the overwhelming faith our survey respondents expressed in having found a lasting love? In a word, “amen!”
Thanks, as always, to our respondents – who were among more than one million active panelists who use MFour’s Surveys on the Go® research app, taking surveys strictly on the mobile devices today’s consumers (and lovers) love to use. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a one-on-one demonstration of how innovative, in-app mobile research technology and an engaged, all-mobile panel deliver quality and consistency.