Mathematical model unravels secret of a successful relationship

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.
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