Facebook has always been a helpful tool for amateur detective work: Is your crush dating anyone? Has your ex started seeing someone new? But it turns out that site can also help answer more challenging relationship questions: For example, will your relationship last?
Researchers from Cornell University examined the social connections of 1.3 million people, a process that helps the social network better tailor users’ newsfeeds — but also, it turns out, that can be used to evaluate the inner workings of a romantic relationship. According to the New York Times, research shows that while mutual friends are important, “high dispersion” within a social network is a stronger indicator of a romantic connection. High dispersion means that couples are connected to friends from different parts of each other’s lives. “A spouse or romantic partner is a bridge between a person’s different social worlds,” explained a researcher to the Times. Researchers mapped out users’ social networks, and found they were able to predict (pretty accurately) who was dating whom based on incidences of high dispersion. And, conversely, when people who were in a relationship lacked high dispersion, there was a good chance they would break up within the next two months.
So: If you’re friends with Joe, and share many mutual friends within the city you live in, and Joe is also friends with your childhood best friends, you and Joe are probably sleeping together. And if Joe isn’t Facebook friends with that girl you’ve known since third grade and talk to on the phone once a month, there’s a 50 percent chance you guys are probably going to break up within the next two months. It’s science.