5 Things That Happen To Every Long-Term Couple, According to Science


by Ellie Wiseman |
Published on

Couples in a long-term relationship often end up resembling each other in one way or another. After all, if you're spending all of your spare time with one person, it's inevitable that you will pick up a few of their mannerisms, start wearing similar clothes or share the same interests. But did you know that there are five scientifically proven things that happen when two people stay together for a long time? Chances are, if you've been in a relationship for more than a year, you can relate to at least one of the five points below.

1. You start to look alike

If you’re in a long-term relationship you may find that you and your partner have begun to morph into one person - whether you subconsciously wear matching outfits or share similar mannerisms. But according to science, this isn't just superficial. Convergence In The Physical Appearance Of Spouses claims that couples who have spent over 25 years in a relationship will begin to noticeably resemble one another. Why? Because constantly mimicking each others emotions results in 'vascular changes' to the face. Thankfully, the study does claim that having the same stress lines as your partner is a good thing...

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2. You start to sound alike

If you're in a long-term relationship you may have found that you and your partner have developed an intimate way of speaking that's exclusive to just you two. You'll have an abundance of inside jokes that only you find funny, plus embarrassing nicknames for each other that have become a part of your daily dialogue. Therefore it's no shock that long-term couples begin to mirror each other's speech patterns), from accent to intonation.


3. Your needs and desires change

It’s commonly acknowledged that when two people have been in a relationship for a long time their behaviour towards each other changes, and so do their needs. What Characteristics Do Men and Women Desire In Their Short-Term And Long-Term Romantic Partners shows that both sexes desire characteristics such as intelligence, honesty and warmth in long-term relationships, as opposed to physical attractiveness and sex drive in short-term relationships.

When a couple has been together for a long time the element of obsession – which is more common during the early stages of a relationship – is lost, according to Does A Long-Term Relationship Kill Romantic Love? Without the obsession element couples can often fall out of sync sexually and intimacy is lost. Interestingly, Exploring Relationships Among Communication, Sexual Satisfaction, and Marital Satisfaction explains how sexual satisfaction can compensate for poor communication, but good communication and poor sexual satisfaction still results in a less-satisfying relationship. So, although your priorities may pivot as you grow comfortable with a partner, sex and intimacy should not be neglected.


4. Your sleep cycles sync

You may have been polite about each other's sleeping habits at the beginning of your relationship, but if you’ve been with your partner for a while you will have no problem telling them off for snoring or kicking you in the middle of the night.

Unsurprisingly, the quality of our sleep depends largely on who we sleep next to on a regular basis. The study Sex: Sleeping Together shows that long-term couples’ sleep tends to sync, and if one partner is struggling to sleep, the other's sleep suffers too. Interestingly, American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that between husbands and wives, the wife is more likely to dictate the sleeping syncrony, as when she is experiencing marital satisfaction it directly correlates to the husband having good quality sleep.


5. You reach the ultimate comfort zone

According to a study carried out by the Measure Bowel Cancer campaign in 2015, it takes approximately 11 months for a couple to reach the ‘comfort zone’. As soon as the bathroom ceases to be a private domain, and you're rocking no makeup, sweatpants and your hair tied on top of your head, you know you've reached the perfect equilibrium.

leonardo dicaprio kate winslet titanic
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic ©Rex Features

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