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As a result, environmental factors are also understood to contribute heavily to the strength of intimate relationships.

A Northwestern University research team summarized the literature in 2013, finding that "negative-affect reciprocity" — retaliatory negativity between partners during a conflict — is arguably the most robust predictor of poor marital quality.

Although many of the marriages have ended since the beginning of the study, this type of relationship study allows researchers to track marriages from start to finish by conducting follow-up interviews with the participants in order to determine which factors are associated with marriages that last and which with those that do not.

Evidence also points to the role of a number of contextual factors that can impact intimate relationships.

Relationships based on virtue are built on an attraction to the others' virtuous character.

Aristotle also suggested that relationships based on virtue would be the longest lasting and that virtue-based relationships were the only type of relationship in which each partner was liked for themselves.

Intimacy involves the ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship.

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Intimate behavior joins family members and close friends, as well as those in love.

He wrote: "One person is a friend to another if he is friendly to the other and the other is friendly to him in return" (Aristotle, 330 BC, trans. Aristotle also suggested that relationships were based on three different ideas: utility, pleasure, and virtue.

People are attracted to relationships that provide utility because of the assistance and sense of belonging that they provide.

Research being conducted by John Gottman (2010) and his colleagues involves inviting married couples into a pleasant setting, in which they revisit the disagreement that caused their last argument.

Although the participants are aware that they are being videotaped, they soon become so absorbed in their own interaction that they forget they are being recorded.

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