There is, in fact, a non-Cosmo-quiz way to tell if a couple is compatible.
The answer? Language. No, not a common tongue, but rather similarities of speech patterns. In a recent survey of college students who'd been dating at least 6 months, those "couples whose language was in sync were almost four times more likely to want to see each other again than those who did not use similar language," says Reuters.
What does it mean to be "in sync?" Apparently the key is not nouns or verbs but the "function words" — the determiners, conjunctions, and prepositions that serve to express a grammatical relationship between "content words" like verbs and noun. Sound confusing? Here's how the lead researcher explains it: "Function words are highly social and they require social skills to use...For example, if I'm talking about the article that's coming out, and in a few minutes I make some reference to 'the article', you and I both know what that article means." Basically, because these words don't have fixed meaning, they're easy to analyze in context.
And by an overwhelming margin, when couples' conversational patterns mirrored that of each other, they were more likely to be dating three months later, and to have similarly compatible text-message patterns. But how much of this is under our control? After all, those "how to win friends" manuals always suggest matching the cadence and body language of the other person...couldn't one unconsciously find oneself mirroring someone to whom we were attracted? Kind of. As scientist James Pennebaker tells USA Today, "The more a person matches your speech and behavior patterns, the more you like them. The more you like them, the more you match their speech and behavior." In other words, this isn't really information that you can manipulate to your advantage...but it is another way for scientists to secretly predict your love life.
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