Finn, 37, evaluates the data from the large-scale partnership study Pairfam at the University of Jena. The survey started in 2008 with 12,402 people. Participants are interviewed extensively about their relationship once a year. Finn’s study, which ran for more than seven years, involved almost 2,000 couples. 319 of them separated during this time.
SPIEGEL: Ms. Finn, can you predict what relationships will hold?
Finn: Predicting the exact time of a breakup is of course difficult. But making predictions about whether a partnership generally holds or not – you can do that.
SPIEGEL: How can you tell?
Finn: After couples separated from our study, we investigated which factors linked them before and which differentiated them.
SPIEGEL: What did you discover?
Finn: That personal needs seemed particularly important. How much proximity do you want from your partner? How often do you see each other? Do you know what moves him? And the opposite: independence. How much do you want to be able to pursue your own interests despite a partnership? How much freedom do you keep? If the couples differed in their ideas from the start – and if they drifted even more apart over time – the risk of separation increased.