Key to relationship happiness as simple as finding a nice person

Nice guys actually DON’T finish last! Finding a kind partner is more important than compatibility, study claims (so are dating apps a waste of time?)

  • Michigan State University research claims being compatible is overrated  
  • Experts say finding someone nice and pleasant is more important to happiness 
  • Similar personalities have no effect on how satisfied people are in relationships
  • Dating apps that match people’s compatibility may have it all wrong, they say

The key to relationship happiness could be as simple as finding a nice person, researchers say.

Sharing similar personalities may not be as important as most people think, scientists behind the study claim.

Experts from Michigan State University say that nice guys, and girls, make better partners – even if you don’t appear to be totally compatible.

That could suggest that, despite their popularity, dating apps that match people on compatibility may not give you the best chance of long-term success.

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The key to relationship happiness could be as simple as finding a nice person. And, despite popular belief, sharing similar personalities may not be as important as most people think. That’s according to new research from Michigan State University (stock image)

‘People invest a lot in finding someone who’s compatible, but our research says that may not be the end all be all,’ said Bill Chopik, associate professor of psychology and director of MSU’s Close Relationships Lab.

‘Instead, people may want to ask, “Are they a nice person?” “Do they have a lot of anxiety?” Those things matter way more than the fact that two people are introverts and end up together.’

The most striking finding of the study was that having similar personalities had almost no effect on how satisfied people were in their lives and relationships, Dr Chopik said. 

‘When you start to get into creating algorithms and psychologically matching people, we actually don’t know as much about that as we think we do,’ he added.

‘We don’t know why the heart chooses what it does, but with this research, we can rule out compatibility as the lone factor.’

So, what does this research mean for dating apps? Despite their popularity, apps that match people on compatibility may have it all wrong, researchers say (stock image)

The researchers looked at almost every way couples could be happy, making it the most comprehensive study to date.

Their project used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a long-running survey of households.

Dr Chopik and Richard Lucas, MSU foundation professor in the department of psychology, measured the effects of personality traits on well-being in more than 2,500 heterosexual couples who have been married roughly 20 years.

Even among the couples who share similar personalities, Dr Chopik and Dr Lucas found having a partner who is conscientious and nice leads to higher levels of relationship satisfaction. 

At the same time, having a partner who is neurotic, and, surprisingly, more extroverted, results in lower relationship satisfaction.

The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of Research in Personality.  


A relationship can have many downfalls but ‘marriages often die more by ice than by fire’ says leading relationship expert Dr Michael McNulty.

Couples drift apart and this often leads to break-ups.

The first steps that lead to couples drifting apart in a break-up can be broken down as follows: 

Stage one: More negativity than positivity seeps into the relationship.

Stage two: The four horsemen of the apocalypse – Contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling all contribute to a poisonous relationship.

Stage three: Flooding – The stage where anger starts coming out in the relationship and the partners become highly emotional.

Stage four: Emotional disengagement – After the vast amount of emotional unrest before this is where the relationships becomes stale, with both parties checking out already. 

Relationships of any length can become damaging and prone to failure if the two people involved don’t constantly work towards maintaining parity and a healthy relationship (stock image) 

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