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Want to reach your life goals? Pick the right life partner

Choose your partner carefully: the person you meet with will profoundly affect your future goals and successes.

This is the result of a study at the University of Basel in which researchers twice assessed the daily goals of 456 long-term heterosexual couples for two weeks over the course of a year.

Your results will make more sense once you understand how goals work. Psychologists generally sort goals into two varieties:

  • Success goals, in which someone tries to achieve a desired outcome, such as a degree or a meaningful travel experience
  • Avoidance goals, in which someone avoids an undesirable outcome, such as avoiding bankruptcy or looking stupid

Both types of goals determine behavior. The researchers found that the partners share the same avoidance and success goals over time. For example, if one partner was looking for personal growth or meaningful experience, so did the other; If one partner avoided conflict or stress, so did the other.

That’s big! It means that Partners not only support each other, but implicitly take on each other’s goals and avoidances. The study found that these mirrored goals occurred regardless of gender, age, or relationship length.

Interestingly, the researchers noted a time lag in when a partner picks up a newly emerging target. Instead of jumping on a buddy ‘s bandwagon right away, partners don’t buy into a husband’s interests until days or months later if he holds on.

“This could be an adaptive mechanism to maintain the stability of the relationship by not being influenced by every momentary shift in the partner,” explains first author Jana Nikitin, professor of psychology at the University of Basel, why you get a temporary relationship free ticket for your lover’s sudden yen for long-distance hikes or week-long silent meditation retreats. Phew

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