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Science

A study found 4 different categories of couples. Where do you belong?

What if I told you someone did find a way to "categorize" your love style but with actual real science?

movie stars, legends, astrology, dating

This movie couple definitely could have used some healthy therapy.

Ever fallen into one of those Internet dating quizzes? You know, the ones that promise to categorize you? Like "what your astrological sign says about your relationship style."

They can be fun, but we all know they're mostly fluff.

What if I told you someone did find a way to "categorize" your love style but with actual real science?


Three relationship scientists asked about 400 couples to track how they felt about their relationship and how committed they felt to marrying their partner. They followed each of the couples for nine months. Not, like, literally followed them — that would be creepy. Instead, they just asked them a few questions and asked them to keep track of how committed they were feeling over time.

At the end of the nine months, the scientists collected all the couple's responses and delved deep into the data. They found that couples did indeed tend to fall into one of four categories.

Prepare yourself for some soul searching because you might just be:

1. The Conflicted, but Passionate

celebrity, relationships, commitment

Scarlett and Rhett from "Gone with the Wind."

Image from Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr.

This is the couple Facebook made the "It's Complicated" relationship status for. Their levels of commitment tend to go up and down over time, especially after arguments. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. These folks use those conflicts to help them make decisions about the relationship, and in fact, they didn't appear to be any more destined for a breakup than any of the other groups.

Also, as a bonus, they tend to follow those turbulent downs with passionate ups. "These couples operate in a tension between conflict that pushes them apart and passionate attraction that pulls them back together," said study author Brian Ogolsky.

2. The Partner-Focused

dating, hobbies, leisure activities

A nice night to have a couples walk.

Image from Yiannis Theologos Michellis/Flickr.

If your idea of a perfect date night is a long walk followed by eight hours of binge-watching "House of Cards" together, you might fall into this category.

Partner-focused couples tend to spend a lot of time together and share hobbies or leisure activities, and it's that shared time that tends to propel them forward. They tended to be more careful and thoughtful about their relationship decisions — more likely to build from the inside out — and tended to be the most satisfied overall.

3. The Social Butterflies

On the other hand, if your perfect evening with your partner involves grabbing all your friends and hitting the bars or breaking out Settlers of Catan for the hundredth time, this might be the category that best describes you. Social couples usually share a friend group and use that time spent with friends to inform and build their relationship as a couple.

"Having mutual friends makes people in these couples feel closer and more committed," said Ogolsky. They also tended to be pretty stable and have higher levels of love based on feelings of friendship toward each other, which can be a good indicator for long-term happiness.

4. The Dramatic

drama, community, therapy, social norms

A little Renaissance kissing with oil

Image from Sofi/Flickr.

Unfortunately, not every couple's path is easy. Things may start out good, but tend not to stay that way for dramatic couples. This type of couple tends to make decisions based on negative experiences or stuff from outside the relationship.

"These couples have a lot of ups and downs, and their commitment swings wildly," said Ogolsky. "You begin to see little things eroding, and you start to see the relationship in a negative light, and soon you give up," said Ogolsky.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, dramatic couples tended to break up the most, twice as much as other couples.

So what's best? Well, here's where this article differs from a lot of those Internet quizzes. Because the answer is that there isn't a "best" kind of relationship.

couples therapy, love, marriage, biology

What do healthy relationships start and end with?

Image from Maryam Mgonja/Wikimedia Commons.

Different couples work and grow differently. These are different pathways and it'd be a mistake to assume there's a "correct" way to love someone. Or even that you're forever locked into a certain style of relationships. "These are not predefined, for-life patterns," said Ogolsky.

And even in a single relationship, these patterns aren't predictors of destiny — a dramatic couple may, in fact, outlast a social one, and a partner-driven couple may be as passionate as anyone you could ever meet.

And the researchers willingly admit in their paper that their study doesn't cover all relationships. Many very happy couples have no desire to marry, for instance. And, it should be noted, that it wasn't too long ago that the U.S. didn't even allow all couples to get married!

Wait, you're not going to tell me how to find the perfect, golden, eternally-happy relationship?! Why even study this then?

Because, in our hearts, humans are social creatures, Ogolsky explained. Love, friendship, passion, and commitment are part of the human experience. Understanding relationships can be as important to understanding ourselves as studying chemistry or biology. They can even affect your health!

As for what you can learn from all this, the important takeaway is that what you use to make decisions — whether from conflict, from the inside, from the outside, or from friendship — can influence your level of commitment. It might be useful for couples to think not just about their choices but how they make their choices.

So ... what's your category?


This article originally appeared on 02.15.16

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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