I think it’s safe to say that I’m more than a bit neurotic. I’m pretty anxious and insecure at times. Despite that, I have been lucky enough to have had several wonderful romantic relationships in my life. Not all of them ended well, in fact, two ended terribly, however, all of them began wonderfully. There’s that early on beautiful puppy dog stage where all is right with the world. Love is in the air and you haven’t gotten to know your new love enough to realize they aren’t perfect. German psychologists discovered what I always knew, which is that a romantic relationship can have a positive effect on personality development.
Focused on Young People
The psychologists of the German Universities of Jena and Kassel, focused their study on young adults aged 18 – 30 years with special emphasis on the neurotic. Dr. Christine Finn, who wrote her doctoral dissertation within the framework of the current study, states:
Neurotic people are rather anxious, insecure, and easily annoyed. They have a tendency towards depression, often show low self-esteem and tend to be generally dissatisfied with their lives, however, we were able to show that they become more stable in a love relationship, and that their personality stabilizes.
Neuroticism and Relationship Satisfaction
The study involved 245 couples for nine months and interviewed them individually every three months. Using a questionnaire the scientists analyzed the degrees of neuroticism as well as relationship satisfaction. Moreover, the study participants had to evaluate fictitious everyday life situations and their possible significance for their own partnership. “This part was crucial, because neurotic people process influences from the outside world differently,” Finn explains. For instance, they react more strongly to negative stimuli and have a tendency to interpret ambiguous situations negatively instead of positively or neutrally.
The scientists found that this tendency gradually decreases over time when being in a romantic relationship. On the one hand, the partners support each other, according to Christine Finn. On the other hand, the cognitive level: An individual, plays a crucial role: “The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality – not directly but indirectly. To put it more simply: Love helps us to tackle life with more confidence instead of seeing things pessimistically straight away.
Love Is Not Just For The Young
Now, I’m not aged 18 – 30. This past year I turned 50 years old and I’m happy to say that it works for us mature individuals. At least it does for this old neurotic guy. Maurice and I have been together for 10 wonderful years and he most definitely has a major positive impact on my outlook on life.
The scientists were able to observe this effect in men as well as women. “Of course everyone reacts differently and a long, happy relationship has a stronger effect than a short one,” Prof. Dr. Franz J. Neyer says. He is the co-author of the new publication and chair of Differential Psychology of the Jena University. “But generally we can say: young adults entering a relationship can only win!”
Win, indeed. I was able to find the perfect one. How did I find him? That’s easy – I wasn’t looking for him. I learned long ago that looking for love is the best way to not find it. Go out to have fun, meet someone and just focus on having a good time. Neurotic or not, that’s the way to find true love.
Researchers report on this finding in the latest edition of Journal of Personality.