Summer Lovin’

A graphical look at how we view love in America.

Most Americans believe there is a special someone they are meant to be with—ideally, someone a lot like themselves. Those are two findings from a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University Polling Institute in collaboration with Gary Lewandowski, professor and chair of Monmouth’s Department of Psychology, whose research focuses on romantic relationships. Here’s a look at some of the numbers and what they mean.

There’s someone for everyone, some say

66% of American adults believe in the concept of soul mates—the idea that there is a specific person we are each meant to be with.

82% of women currently in a relationship are most likely to believe this.
64% of men in a relationship think it.
14% of Americans don’t give much credence to the idea of soul mates.
17% don’t believe in the concept at all.

Lewandowski says: “Though romantic, believing in soul mates isn’t necessarily ideal for your relationship. The research indicates that those who believe in soul mates and destiny are actually more likely to break up. On the other hand, those who believe that relationships grow over time have more stable relationships and are better at dealing with conflict.”

You’re the one that you want

Despite the adage that opposites attract, most Americans feel their ideal mates are those who are similar to themselves.

6 in 10 Americans say that partners should generally be similar—though not too similar.
1 in 3 Americans say they should be more different—though not too different.

Lewandowski says: “Being more similar helps minimize conflict. If both of [you] like going to the beach, neither of [you] need to sacrifice.”

Best friends with benefits

83% of American adults in a relationship see their current partners as their best friends.

88% of married respondents feel this way.
72% in a nonmarital relationship think the same.

Lewandowski says: “Considering your romantic partner to be your best friend is an important component of quality relationships. In fact, when researchers asked couples who have been married over 15 years why their relationships lasted, the top reason was that their partners are their best friends.”

Brains matter

Most Americans want to marry someone …

equally as smart 51%
smarter than themselves 39%

Only 3 percent think it’s good to marry someone less smart.

Lewandowski says: “Marrying someone smarter than you is wise, because in quality relationships, you take on many of your partner’s qualities as your own and ultimately share your partner’s successes.”

The head or the heart?

Most Americans say the ideal partner is someone who makes decisions with their head rather than their gut.

78% prefer a partner who makes decisions from the head.
15% prefer a partner who makes them from the gut.

Lewandowski says: “Emotionally unstable partners undermine relationships, so having a partner who is more logical and rational should promote stability.”

The politics of love

The partisan divide impacting American life has also crept into how Americans view their relationships.

65% of Republicans
57% of independents
52% of Democrats

say they are “extremely satisfied” with their relationships.

91% of Republicans
78% of independents
83% of Democrats

say their partners are their best friends.

Lewandowski says: “These differences may be attributable to Republicans placing greater value on marriage. As a result, Republicans may be more motivated to see relationships more positively.”

The poll was conducted by telephone from January 12 to 15, 2017, with 801 adults in the United States, including 50 percent who are married, 10 percent who are living with a partner, and another 10 percent who are in a non-cohabitating romantic relationship. The results have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.