What does a "normal" relationship look like? You may as well bellow "What are humans like?" into thin air, the answer is that elusive. Also, to be utterly cliched about it, one person's normal will always be another person's WTF. And, even if something isn't normal (read: customary or usual) but you're totally happy with the status quo, who cares. Etc.
But there are trends and patterns to be detected in romantic relationships, which is of great interest to humans. Maybe because we're curious by nature, or sometimes very bored. Or in need of reassurance that when we think or feel or do XYZ, we're not that weird after all! Carry on!
Hence The Normal Bar, a new relationship book that will tell you 1. what is normal in a relationship, 2. where you sit on that spectrum of normal, and 3. how to improve your relationship. All of which is based on the biggest romantic relationship survey of all time: 70,000 married (heterosexual) couples from around the world.
The product of two US sociologists and a wellness entrepreneur, the new release claims to offer:
... a rare - and surprising - window into what our neighbors' sexual and emotional lives are really like... The book provides a range of effective tools to change your 'normal' if you desire, bringing your relationship to a level that is healthier, more contented, and more fulfilling.
Here are some of its findings:
• 48 per cent of men claim to have fallen in "love" at first sight, but only 28 per cent of women claim the same.
• Couples who fell in love slowly were just as happy as those who were hit on the head by immediate, dizzying thunderbolt of love.
• 80 per cent of extremely happy couples know their partner's salary.
• Only 74 per cent of people are happy in their relationship and only 66 per cent of those questioned believe their partner is their soulmate. Which I suppose indicates everyone still believes in soulmates? I FEEL POSITIVELY ABOUT THIS.
• Happy couples go on frequent date nights, have pet names, hold hands, and kiss passionately and often.
• Both men and women said communication was the best, most important thing in their relationship. People in unhappy relationships said communication was the key thing missing.
• 40 per cent of respondents said they have sex three or four times a week. 27 per cent do it "a handful of times" every month. 7.5 per cent every day, and 17.5 per cent "rarely or never".
All interesting enough, but the very concept of a "normal" relationship can really stress you out. There's always the chance you'll read something that doesn't apply to your own couple cocoon, for instance - or will one day maybe apply, God forbid - and then, suddenly, tiny sprouts of neurosis.
Maybe a more important question is what's NOT normal in a relationship. If they talk in circles when you question strange behaviour, say, or make negative comments about your appearance/likes/dislikes/anything else you have the basic human right to feel good about. If you walk on eggshells because they're quick to anger of offend, or they seem to lack any real sense of (VERY IMPORTANT WORD COMING UP) empathy.
That stuff is not normal. But it's possibly, probably, more important?
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What's "normal" in a romantic relationship? What's not? What's the most important thing when it comes to being joined to another human?