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Mathematical model unravels secret of a successful relationship

Thursday 22 November 2012

mathematics%20and%20love.png The graphs show the relationship between Romeo (solid lines) and Juliet (broken lines) depending on the length of delay in their reactions.

If you’ve ever wondered why your relationships flounder, mathematicians at Radboud University in Nijmegen may have the answer – it’s all about the oscillations in your relationship dynamics.

Natalia Bielczyk and her colleagues have developed a mathematical model for efficient communication in relationships which shows that the time partners take to respond to each other can be a determinant in their success or failure.

Love affair dynamics, Bielczyk says, can look like a sinus wave: a smooth repetitive oscillation of highs and lows. For some couples these waves grow out of control, leading to break-up, while for others they smooth into a state of peace and contentment.

The model shows that the wave's development depends on the time partners take to form their emotional reactions towards each other.

Romeo and Juliet

Bielszyk’s model is not the first of its kind. In 1988 mathematician Steven Strogatz was the first to plot the course of true love mathematically by constructing a two-dimensional model describing the emotional interaction, taking Romeo and Juliet as an example. What Strogatz didn’t do and Bielczyk did, was include delays in the partners’ responses to each other.

Bielszyk says the results are ‘intuitive’ and as such, have a place in social psychology.

Working at communicating properly, studying each others emotions and working out the right timing can improve your relationships, even without trying to change your partners traits, Bielczyk says.

The paper has been published on the Applied Mathematics and Computation journal.

Can maths explain the mystery of a good relationship? Share your thoughts using the comment box below.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I have certainly found that both the frequency and amplitude of oscillations are an essential part of a great relationship.

By Wendell | 22 November 2012 4:02 PM

Yeah just like astrology lol..

I can think of 3 valid reasons that cause separation:

The magic wears off leaving the couple with just routines which become boring. >and because> ..

Neither partner realize that they should always put their partner first & not count on their relationship remaining successful unless they both put in the effort to keep it healthy.

Economical stress, & insecurity leading to temptation.

Or: x˙y˙z˙=σ(y−x)=ρx−y−xz=−βz+xy + <1+q2(1−q)+q6(1−q)(1−q2)+⋯=∏j=0∞1(1−q5j+2)(1−q5j+3),for |q|<1. = 一個很大的浪費時 = successful relationship. makes a lot of sense right?

By The visitor | 22 November 2012 4:18 PM

Can maths explain the mystery of a good relationship? Why not.

A good relationship is based on a solid commitment to each other. We all have our ups and downs, emotional highs and lows, the intensity of which will vary from person to person. If the commitment is strong and central to the relationship, then one's emotions will return towards the centre. If the commitment is not strong enough then the emotions will fluctuate more strongly and enter a negative feedback cycle, slowly getting more extreme, finally resulting in a breakdown.

Simple (in my simple mind!).

No doubt someone will blow my ideas out of the water with an emotional response (meant tongue-in-cheek)!

By Paintmaker | 22 November 2012 4:19 PM

Literature becoming real life? My daughter read this book for English literature, about "Colin is on a mission to prove a mathematical theorem he hopes will predict the future of any relationship (and conceivably win the girl)" http://johngreenbooks.com/abundance-of-katherines/

By Nanny Lauridsen | 22 November 2012 4:39 PM

So, in other words, the secret to a lasting relationship is... patience and understanding.

By MichaelGJK | 22 November 2012 5:57 PM

Mathematical model unravels secret of a successful relationship. Quantum wollop, Sounds like when one electron said to another, you are in such a state!

By Terence Hale | 22 November 2012 6:01 PM

Where's Juliet in the bottom right graph? had she finally had enough?

By D Stapel | 22 November 2012 6:35 PM

For any of you girls out there -

just make sure your guy listens.

That's all it takes. Most girls do, most men don't. The best relationships happen when the man listens too.

Oh, and it's amazing fun when he does!!

By Gemma | 22 November 2012 7:43 PM

Romeo and Juliet are not the right test cases for this sort of study. They were, after all, created, and their speech articulated, by Shakespeare. Looks like they have done a study on Shakespeare's portrayal of the chemistry between his characters. It would be very difficult to carry this out on real people, since they become conscious and their responses will be affected when placed under study.

By GGG | 23 November 2012 8:00 AM

Bielszyk says the results are ‘intuitive (VAGUE)’ and as such, have a place in social psychology (GOSSIP COLUMNS).

By Allan | 23 November 2012 8:29 AM

If that is what is achieved with public fundings, I am not surprised government wants cuts on edcuation and research budget.

By joanna | 23 November 2012 8:54 AM

Oh yes, maths is important to relationship. Must do maths before getting into one, during one and ending one.

By ufo | 23 November 2012 9:03 AM

MichaelGJK - thanks for translating that for me! I agree, just add compassion and committment, and a pinch of sugar ;)

By B | 23 November 2012 10:03 AM

Mathematical formulas can be applied to solving or explaining most anything. There is a whole group of people obsessed with this notion. I believe Newton was preoccupied with trying to prove God exists through an elaborate equation.

By Quince | 23 November 2012 2:45 PM

>Oh yes, maths is important to relationship. Must do maths before getting into one, during one and ending one.

ufo, very well-said! You made my day.

By GGG | 23 November 2012 4:43 PM

As males tend to communicate non-verbally far more than females, it could be said that a successful relationship is better built on women being more aware of non-verbal, male cues. This would, of course, be dependent on reducing incessant, female chatter. :-)

By Drawer 22 | 23 November 2012 9:03 PM

joanna: "If that is what is achieved with public fundings, I am not surprised government wants cuts on edcuation and research budget."

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater... Just because some studies are ridiculous, doesn't mean EVERY study doesn't deserve funding. You realize our society has only moved forward leaps and bounds BECAUSE of scientific research, right?

As a scientist, this comment drives me up the wall a lot further than the ridiculousness of this study.

By Stupid | 24 November 2012 4:57 PM

Right on, "Stupid". I'm getting really tired of the increasingly more frequent nonsensical statements like "of course X is bad, since Y is an entire waste of time" that show up in the comments here. Such heavy-handed, self-righteous attitude setting the world to rights is best saved for populist electoral speeches for the dumb.

And by the way, nobody's present any argument against the research: just obvious jokes and some pseudo-intellectual arrogant dismissal.

By radu | 26 November 2012 8:42 AM

I'm not really sure if Romeo and Juliet should be studied as an example of a good relationship.

It is after all a story about a relationship that lasted 3 days between a 13 year old and a 17 year old that resulted in 6 deaths.

By Craig | 26 November 2012 8:44 AM

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