Hope for the Hopelessly Single: Which Qualities Predict Success in Romantic Relationships?

There are only so many things we can control when it comes to the wild, whimsical quest for true love. For those of you frantically searching for the one, you might be wondering what the secret recipe is to success.

Are there any universal qualities that increase a person’s chances for romance? And how many of them can we actually change? To all the hopelessly single folks awaiting their happily-ever-after: listen up, because we may have some answers. 

Using data from the 2022-2023 Marriage Pact surveys, we ran a series of linear regressions to determine the questions that best predicted a respondent’s self-reported singleness score, on a scale of 1 (“totally taken”) to 7 (“help me pls”). We focused on four schools in our analysis: Stanford, Michigan, UVA, and Boston College. 

As it turns out, we found that the number one predictor of a student’s singleness score was their class year. At all four schools, seniors were significantly more likely to have a lower singleness score than freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. 

Singleness Year

While class year isn’t exactly something students can control, this finding at least provides some comfort for the hopelessly romantic freshmen convinced they’re running out of time. Finding the right partner’s not an easy thing, and good things come to those who wait! Be at ease. 

Just for the fun of it, we broke things down by major next. Below are the five majors with the lowest responses to “How single are you?” at each school (in other words, the most “taken” majors). To improve the integrity of our data, we only considered majors with more than 40 students. 

Singleness Major

Most notably, students majoring in earth or environmental sciences frequently made the list. If you didn’t think caring for the environment was sexy before, we hope you do now. 

In addition to our findings on class year and major, we found three questions that were significant, positive predictors of singleness. In other words, students with higher responses to these questions on a scale of 1 to 7 tended to be more single. 

  • I would give up something good and stable for the possibility of something better. 

  • How long do you think is appropriate to wait before having sex?

  • I admire people who are unpredictable. 

In other words, students who don’t settle for mediocrity in their relationships, who wait for a longer time before having sex, and who gravitate towards the wild and unpredictable all tend to be on the single side. 

On the flip side, we found three questions that negatively predicted singleness. Students with higher responses to these questions on a scale of 1 to 7 leaned towards the “totally taken” side of the spectrum. 

  • I generally like to take control during sex. 

  • I’m open to being in a long-distance relationship. 

  • If I have feelings for someone, I usually… (1 = keep them to myself, 7 = share ASAP)

Predictably, students who are less picky with the convenience of their relationship tend to be more taken. We certainly won’t tell you to lower your standards, but do with that information what you will. 

But more notably, students who are more forward in their romantic pursuits—specifically those who opt to share feelings sooner rather than later—are significantly less likely to be single. It can be incredibly daunting to put yourself out there, but you’ll never find what you’re looking for if you don’t give it a shot.

This is a hopeful finding. There are only so many superficial things we can change about ourselves before we lose the essence of who we are. But what you can control is your self-confidence, your courage, and your willingness to take risks. And as the data reveals, these are the very things that lead to success. Go get ‘em!