Facebook can predict how long a relationship will last

facebook-1Scientists can find a wealth of fascinating data on Facebook. This often yields interesting findings. For instance, did you know that it’s possible to use Facebook data to predict whether a romantic relationship will stand the test of time?

After analyzing over a million Facebook profiles, Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell, and Lars Backstrom, a developer at Facebook, discovered a link between the amount of social connections shared between a user and the person they have a relationship and the strength of this relationship.

Rather than exclusively looking at the number of shared connections of a couple, this study went a step further. Kleinberg and Backstrom looked at the entire network of the couple’s circle of friends. The researchers analyzed how much overlap there is between the circle of friends of both persons in the relationship. This is also called dispersion. The higher the dispersion, the more frequently someone will crop up in a circle of friends in different places.


A number of interesting phenomena can be identified in the various steps of a relationship. For instance, a profile is viewed more often when a relationship starts. The dispersion increases when people get married. As a result, the overlap in their network will increase as well. The longer two people are involved in a relationship, the more they will get to resemble each other on Facebook.

So imagine you and your partner have been together for half a year, but the dispersion is still very low. In that case the changes of an enduring relationship are unfortunately not that high.

Click here for the full study report and an overview of the algorithms that were used for the study.