The Magic Ratio

Have you ever heard of the magic relationship ratio? It’s 5:1! But what does that mean? Dr. John Gottman determined that for couples in conflict, there needs to be 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction that occurs. Conflict in a relationship is inevitable and can even be helpful and productive when managed effectively. Happier, more satisfied couples tend to engage in more positive interactions than negative interactions, and are able to effectively communicate by incorporating respectfulness, fondness, and affection even during conflict. Couples who are engaging in more negative interactions than positive interactions tend to be unhappier and less fulfilled overall.

A negative interaction may include behaviors such as criticism, defensiveness, name-calling, eye-rolling, contempt, dismissiveness, or ignoring. While some negative interactions are bound to happen at times, it’s important to balance those with more positive interactions. Examples of positive interactions include active listening, showing affection, validating, empathizing, playfulness, and respectfulness. You can strengthen your ability to engage in more positive interaction by practicing mindfulness of how you are speaking and behaving with your partner. There are many ways to show care and affection to your partner, and you can practice trying out different ways to connect with them. You can also practice noticing moments where they are reaching out to engage positively with you and learn about what works for both of you.

This blog post was written by Taryn O’Neil, LPC. To learn more about the 5:1 ratio, reach out to one of our licensed counselors today here.