Does Your Relationship Follow The 5:1 Ratio?

By Wild Ginger

Does Your Relationship Follow The 5:1 Ratio?

February 18th, 2022 at 4:10 am

The magic ratio for a healthy relationship


Love may be magical, but the 5 -to-1 ratio for a healthy relationship is in fact science-backed. If you’re wondering what’s so romantic about maths, these findings came from a study of couples back in the 1970s. Conducted by relationship researcher, Dr. John Gottman, he was able to predict (with over 90% accuracy) which relationships would remain intact 9 years later. The key was how they managed conflict.


We can’t escape conflict – it exists in every relationship, from friendships to familial relationships. Although not encouraged, it can be avoided, but instead, we should learn how to manage them better. This is where the 5 to 1 ratio comes in: Dr. John Gottman discovered that the difference between happy couples and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. For every negative interaction, a stable relationship will have five or more positive interactions.


What is considered a negative interaction?

Known as The Four Horsemen (Of The Apocalypse); criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are unproductive communication styles that usually signify the end of a relationship. These include attacking your partner’s character, eye-rolling and scoffing, reversing the blame, as well as refusing to respond to them. Anger is a negative interaction, but it is a natural reaction to conflict and will only affect a couple if it’s being expressed along The Four Horsemen.


Don’t be mistaken, negative interactions still do occur in healthy relationships – the difference is that they are replaced with validation and empathy. Unhappy couples continue to engage in negative interactions and contribute to the growing negativity. 


Practice these positive interactions

As mentioned, we can’t escape conflict, but there are better ways to approach it and help your relationship grow stronger. These positive interactions focus on making amends through positivity and closeness. Here are some things you can do to compensate for the negativity:

  • Show interest 
  • Express appreciation
  • Listen mindfully
  • Validate their feelings
  • Ask questions
  • Show you understand
  • Apologise
  • Lighten the mood


What is your ratio?

An unhealthy positive-to-negative ratio during conflict is 1-to-1, or less, and it usually leads to a breakup. Next time you engage with your partner, take note of how you interact with each other. Are there more negative interactions or positive ones? If there are more negative interactions, try creating more positivity or noticing the small moments of positivity that may already exist. The more positive actions and feelings there are, the happier and more stable your relationship will be.

You May Also Like

Join Our Self-Care Club

Enjoy weekly updates, professional advice and personal recommendations in the comfort of your inbox!

    Sign up for the newsletter to get first access
    Share via
    Copy link