Your relationship is perfectly normal.
By Amanda Green
Last updated on Sep 28, 2023
Photo: Monkey Business Images, Rido | Canva
You probably don’t love the idea of being “normal.” After all, isn’t it better to be above-average in terms of smarts, looks, and success? But sometimes normal is exactly what you need — reassurance that you’re not alone in an experience. Such is the case with romantic relationships. Do you ever wonder how yours stacks up against others?
Wellness entreprenuer Chrisanna Northrup worked with two of America’s top sociologists, Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Dr. James White, to write The Normal Bar.
Nearly 100,000 respondents around the world were surveyed about their relationships, from their behaviors to how happy they were. By studying the results, you can see not only how your relationship compares, but also how small changes could improve it. Below are 10 signs your relationship is “normal,” when compared to those of other Americans. Not good, not bad, just normal.
Here are 10 abnormal signs your relationship is actually normal:
1. You wish your partner was more romantic
Conventional wisdom says that women care more about romance and men care more about being intimate. The Normal Bar shows that, yes, both of these are in high demand but also that the two desires aren’t all that far apart — more romance generally means more intimacy. And, curiously, 64 percent of men who took The Normal Bar survey said they crave more romance, compared to 63 percent of women.
2. You and your partner don’t show PDA
Speaking of romance, or lack thereof … If you’ve been with your partner long-term, you’ve probably noticed a change in how often you kiss, the frequency of intimacy, and, well, just about everything. After 10 years in a relationship, nearly half of all couples stop showing affection in public. The same applies to people aged 45 and older.
3. You touch yourself, no matter how much intimacy you’re having
This isn’t an alternative to intimacy with a partner. For 96 percent of men and 82 percent of women, going solo is a supplement to regular partnered intimacy. Clearly, it’s the “normal” thing to do!
4. You give — or receive — directions during intimacy
Not getting enough out of intimacy? Speak up. You won’t be alone — 63 percent of women and 59 percent of men discuss technique while in the act. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the oil!
5. You have fantasies … that aren’t about your partner
Go ahead. Fantasize about George Clooney… or that new woman at work. The survey says that 53 percent of men and 38 percent of women admit to thinking about someone other than their partner during intimacy. (Hmmm… How many just aren’t admitting it?) Another finding: It has nothing to do with how happy or attracted they are to their sweetheart.
6. You keep a separate bank account
We teach our kids that sharing is caring, but that doesn’t mean that everything that’s mine is yours. A whopping 60 percent of couples without kids and 40 percent with kids keep separate bank accounts. Still, whether they have separate or joint accounts, 62 percent of married couples share equal access to each other’s accounts and investments.
7. You aren’t bothered by the idea of a prenup
Only 3.6 percent of surveyed married couples have prenups, but that doesn’t mean they’re morally opposed to them. More than half, 53 percent, of respondents said they wouldn’t be upset if their partner had asked for one.
8. You think you have a happier relationship than your friends
True or false: Your friends have happier relationships than you. If you answered false, you’re part of the 46 percent of couples who think they’re happier. Another 37 percent of couples think they’re equally happy in love, and 17 percent think their own relationship is less happy. The response varies by how long couples have been together. People newly in love are more likely to think they’re happier. People in long-term relationships are more likely to think the grass is greener for their friends. Either way, your answer to the question isn’t really about your friends. It’s about you.
9. You don’t entirely trust your partner
You love your partner. You’d do anything for him or her. But only 53 percent of men and 39 percent of women are completely trusting. Yikes.
10. You’ve read your partner’s email
Have you ever snooped around your partner’s inbox? Fifty-four percent of women and 49 percent of men have. The snooping didn’t necessarily have anything to do with being suspicious. Some people say women are just more nosy, err, curious. But hey, maybe men are more likely to forget to log out of their email accounts!
So how normal is your relationship? And what “normal” behaviors would you like to change for the better?
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Amanda Green is a writer with experience in copywriting, branded content, social media, and editorial.