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When it comes to forming, and keeping a healthy love relationship, what do you think are the key ingredients? This is a question that almost everyone would like the answer to, including relationship scientists. A new study provides this answer, given even greater credibility by the fact that the findings were a replication of previous research and that they were based on some very “big data,” on international samples of adults from all over the world.

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One way to look at the keys to a good relationship is to examine the qualities of the relationship itself, but according to University of the South Pacific (Fiji)’s Robert Epstein and colleagues (2016), it is perhaps even more informative to look at the skill set of each partner. You can, in this view, have strong relationship skills even if you’re not partnered at the moment, but it’s also more likely you will have a partner if those skills are solid.

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Epstein’s model of relationship skills defines the 7 basic skills as follows (with sample items in parentheses):

  1. Communication: Knowing how to listen, share your thoughts, avoid being critical (“I often ask for feedback from my partner”).
  2. Conflict resolution: Staying focused on the topic and on the present, being willing to forgive or apologize as necessary (“I’m always ready to forgive when my partner apologizes”).
  3. Knowledge of partner: Knowing how to have fun with your partner, knowing your partner’s preferences, caring about your partners wishes (“I always remember my partner’s birthday and other special days”).
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