Couples Who Commute to Work in the Same Direction Have Stronger Relationships

Moving in with a romantic partner is not only an important relationship decision in and of itself, but it comes with it a series of exhausting micro-decisions. How much rent or mortgage can you both afford, and how should you divvy it up? Whose furniture should you bring, and whose furniture gets left behind? Do you want the two-bedroom without a dishwasher, or the one-bedroom that’s near a grocery store? And, one of the most important choices: where’s the best place to live geographically?

Common sense says that you should get a place that is in between your two places of work, to minimize your commute time. But, according to recent research on romantic relationships, you may want to choose a place that allows you to both travel to work in the same direction instead.

 In a recent series of studies, Huang and colleagues ran three different studies looking at the association between two seemingly random variables: marital satisfaction, and the direction in which the spouses commute to work. The researchers found that couples who commute to work in the same direction are actually happier in their marriages. These effects held controlling for a wide range of other factors, such as how long the couples had been together, whether or not they had kids, whether they left for work together, and how much of a difference there was between each partner’s commute time. Furthermore, the researchers obtained a similar effect experimentally, with strangers in a lab study. It seems that traveling in the same direction really is good for relationships.

Why does travelling in the same geographic direction, as opposed to travelling in opposite directions, contribute to relationship quality? The researchers argue that it’s because travelling in the same direction makes romantic partners feel like they are pursuing common goals.

Read more: Samantha Joel, Psychology Today

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