The Happiness Index – what’s important in a relationship?

Relationships  |  February 10, 2020

eharmony conducted an international study, based on surveys with over 5,000 couples in Australia, American and the UK with the simple aim of finding out how happy our respondents feel, and what makes them so (or not). The International Happiness Index reveals that Australians lead the way in contentment but are less satisfied with their sex lives. The majority of Aussies are happy in their relationships and 88% are happy in their marriages – ranking higher than the British (83%) and Americans (82%) in a study tracking the quality of couples’ relationships. However, Aussies are less happy with their sex lives than other countries. This is despite indulging in more action between the sheets.

Priorities within a relationship

For Australians, frequency doesn’t necessarily mean sexual fulfilment. The Happiness Index found that over three quarters (77%) of married couples are having sex once a week, compared to 70% of Americans and half (51%) of British people. Yet, just over a third of Aussies (36%) are content with their sex lives, compared to 54% of Americans and and 33% of Brits. Aussies remain relatively tight-lipped when it comes to discussing their sex lives with only 24% of married couples comfortably talking openly about it. The UK reported similar stats with 25% discussing sex in their relationships, whereas Americans (37%) are far more willing to talk.


of Australian married couples are comfortable with talking openly about their sex life


meanwhile, far more Americans are willing to discuss these potentially sensitive issues

The Happiness Index also explored what people really value in a partner and physical attractiveness was way down the list. Having a happy partner (67%) is considered far more important than having an attractive partner (53%), though both traits obviously carry significance. Next on the priority list were emotional stability (53%) and intelligence (52%).



Emotional stability




Financial stability


n = 5,000; Percentages rounded; supported

The significance of marriage

Marriage remains relatively important to Australians with 71% of those surveyed having tied the knot, compared to 78% of Americans and just 55% of British people. In addition, 45% of Aussies believe being married helps them navigate choppy waters and challenges, possibly because such couples are assured of a formal commitment to working things through. However, 21% of Aussies still don’t disclose mental health issues to their life partner.


of aussies believe that being married helps them through difficult times

Love languages

The best ways to show love are also consistent across continents. When asked, couples rated frequent small gestures such as appreciative words or small ‘acts of service’ – perhaps making a cup of tea, or bringing breakfast in bed – as more important within a relationship than giving gifts.


Words of appreciation

Acts of service

Physical touch

Quality time

Giving gifts

n = 5,000; Percentages rounded; supported
Study information
  • Study typeSurvey
  • ApproachInternational study
  • Populationy5,000
  • Reference PeriodJanuary 2020
  • Region/City/CountryAustralia, UK, USA
  • LanguageEnglish