Do soulmates exist? Is there a formula behind creating the perfect relationship? This interview with relationship scientist Logan Ury originally appeared in the Newsette, a daily newsletter that aims to inspire and encourage women.
What is relationship science?
It’s the academic field that studies how love works. And that could be a number of things from attraction to what makes people connect to how people recover from breakups. It really explores, on a scientific level, the whole journey of relationships.
Is there a scientific formula to love?
So I wouldn’t say there’s any sort of secret relationship formula, but there are things that we know do and don’t matter for long-term relationship success. A lot of us are dating for the prom date, and that’s somebody who’s attractive, fun, and maybe you want to hook up with at the end of the night. But the life partner is that person who’s going to make a great long-term spouse or significant other.
So what should we be looking for instead?
These are the things that matter less than we think they do: looks, similar personalities, and shared hobbies. While those are nice, not having them doesn’t mean you can’t be in a great relationship. People underestimate the value of things like making hard decisions together. Someone who has a growth mindset, someone who’s kind, emotionally stable, and loyal. What has become the most important one to me is, “What side of you do they bring out?” Because in the end, the relationship isn’t about their resume. It’s about who you are around them.
How has the pandemic changed people’s dating habits?
We don’t know what will happen in the post-pandemic world, but we feel like video dating is here to stay. The majority of Hinge users who have tried it say they want to continue using video dates moving forward. We’ve [also] seen this rise in “intentional dating.” These are people who spent the pandemic getting really serious with themselves about who they are, what they want, and how they’re showing up in relationships. So we predict a relationship boom where people who have done a lot of important inner work are ready to get out there and find someone.
Do you have any tips on how to have a good Zoom date?
Yeah! The number one reason why people haven’t tried [virtual dating] is that they think it will be awkward. So step 1 is just overcoming your fear. Another thing is, if you spend all day on Zoom for work, do it on something else—through the app or FaceTime—[or] it’s just going to feel like a networking meeting. One of the ways to shift to a dating mindset is to do a pre-date ritual, so going for a walk, listening to a podcast, or listening to a pump-up playlist—whatever [helps] you really get into it.
What are common dating mistakes we should avoid?
A common mistake that I see is something I call “pen-palling.” That’s where people match on the app, and they want to text over and over for a long time. They say, “Oh, I really want to get to know this person before the date.” I see this as a problem because, in the end, texting is just not that accurate of a way to ascertain someone’s personality. So my advice is to get to the date as soon as possible, because all that matters is how you feel around the person and what side of you they bring out. You can only figure that out on the actual date.
True or false: Soulmates are real.
No. There are many people out there that could work for many different people. [Some people] expect that there’s one person out there for them, and that they’ll live happily ever after—that if it’s truly their soulmate, then it won’t take work. [But] relationships do take work. And so when they hit those inevitable rough spots, they say, “Oh, this must be the wrong person, because if it was my soulmate, it would be easy.” So I suggest that people move from the soulmate mindset to the “work it out” mindset, [which] is the concept that love requires work. And that if you’re working hard, you’re doing it right.