In a world where you can find a girl the same way you order a meat’s lover pizza, more options don’t get you closer to the one. If you’ve found someone you can put up with, scientists say you should probably stay with them.

A recent study by the University of Texas, Austin, found that the cliched notion of finding “the one”–a person who’s a unique, perfect fit for you amongst the seven billion people that walk this planet– is probably sterile and a waste of time.

The study asked a group of a couple hundred men and women in stable relationships (7.5 years average) to choose 27 traits they would want in an ideal partner and rate how their significant others compared to those traits. They were also asked how happy they felt with their partner, overall.

Surprisingly enough, how happy couples were had no relation to whether each person had many of those ideal traits or not. Instead, what influenced relationship happiness the most, was whether each person felt their significant other was better than other options “out there”.

That makes sense–humans by nature tend to rate how good their lives are comparatively and not in a vacuum so how satisfied you are with your partner depends on how they compare to the competition: other potential partners.

More interestingly though, the happiest couples in the study were those who thought their partner to be better than themselves. In other words, in a happy relationship, both people think they’re the reacher and the other person the settler.


“Satisfaction and happiness are not as clear cut as we think they are,” said Daniel Conroy-Beam, UT Austin psychology researcher, in a press release. “We do not need ideal partners for relationship bliss. Instead, satisfaction appears to come, in part, from getting the best partner available to us.”

Getting the “best available to you” is the lesson here. Here at The Man Guide, we’re all about trying your best, doing your best, and getting the best, but when it comes to relationships, science says if you’ve already found a pretty good partner, you’re probably better off sticking with them because there’s not much better out there.

Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side …