80 / 20 Rule in Relationships & Why It’s So Important for Happy Love

Heard of the 80 20 rule in relationships? Find out what it is, and how you can use it to enjoy the best relationship ever by focusing on the right things.


The 80 20 rule in relationships could seem confusing at first. But understanding this concept can help you change your relationship for the better.

So we grow up reading fairy tales and we’ve watched enough movies to believe that a happily ever after awaits us as soon as we kiss or get married. But what they never talk about is the honest truth, that once the movie ends, that’s when real life starts.

Life isn’t perfect. It isn’t meant to be. The little hiccups and drama are what make life, life. And at other times, it’s the little burdens and the difficulties in life that makes it all worthwhile and meaningful. But then again, it’s those very issues that can make life and romance miserable too.

What if you could find a way to steamroll all the problems in a relationship away with the slightest of efforts? It could make life so much better, don’t you think?

The 80 20 rule in relationships and why we need it

When you’re in a relationship with someone you love, you obviously love them. But there may be a few things that you don’t like about them. At first, they were cute quirks. But now they’re minor annoyances. After all, as compatible as we may be with our lovers, none of us are perfectly compatible with each other all the time.
At the start of a relationship, when both of you are still learning about each other, the relationship can seem perfect. But over time, little differences start to crop up.

It could be as mundane as the type of movies either of you like, all the way to what either of you prefer doing over weekends, or while on a vacation.

As time passes by, you’d start to see that the little differences can lead to more differences. And then, eventually both of you realize that you’re completely different people with different likes and dislikes in life!

What do you do then? Really, both of you seemed perfect for each other at the start, and all of a sudden, you seem to have completely different interests. You look back and wonder how you ever assumed your partner and you were ever compatible! 

It happens to all of us. But the best part is that these differences are completely repairable. This is where the 80 20 rule in relationships can help you overcome it, and live in perfect harmony again.


The meaning of the 80 20 rule in relationships

More than a century ago, an Italian economist, Vilfredo Federico Pareto, noticed a few things from his backyard. He saw that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people in Italy. He also observed that 80% of the peas from his garden were contained in just 20% of the pea pods growing in his garden.
With those figures as references and other similar observations, he developed a principle which later came to be known as the Pareto Principle or the 80 20 rule. 

Here’s an example of the Pareto Principle using your friends

The idea of the 80 20 rule in relationships or anywhere else is very simple. It states that 20% of an effort produces 80% of the results, and the remaining 80% of the effort produces only 20% of the results, that’s the whole idea of the Pareto principle.

It’s like having 100 friends. You spend 80% of your time with 20 of your closest friends. And you spend only 20% of your free time with the other 80 friends you’re not so close to. That’s the 80 20 rule.

Some people may tell you that the 80 20 rule in relationships is about you getting 80% of your happiness from relationship, and finding the remaining 20% yourself.

Others may tell you that the Pareto principle in relationships is about not finding complete happiness from a partner. That you can only get 80% of the happiness you expect from a partner. And that you’ll spend all your life looking for that missing 20% that doesn’t matter. But that’s not the Pareto Principle in relationships.

So let’s try to understand what exactly this 80 20 rule in relationships is, once and for all.

Can an economist’s view affect relationships too?

The 80 20 rule may seem like a perfect economical model, but it can fit snugly into issues in a relationship too.

The easiest way to interpret it with respect to love and relationships is this, 80% of all frustrations in a relationship are caused by just 20% of the problems.

By taking a look into our own relationships and love lives, we can see that most of the big frustrations and annoyances are caused because of a couple of main reasons, even if you haven’t realized the deep-rooted problems yet.

Irritations like clothes lying around the room, taking ages to get dressed, or spending too much time with friends or on video games or over the phone may be many in number. But they’re all little annoyances that get magnified because you’re already upset with your partner for some other bigger reason. 

The world works on a set of global principles. And what works in one area of life can also work in another area of your life too.


Understanding love through the 80 20 rule

You may feel like your whole relationship is falling apart, or that both of you have drifted away from each other over time. But all you need to do is focus on 20% of your deep rooted issues, and 80% of your problems would get fixed in no time.
To use the 80 20 rule in relationships in your own life, the first thing both of you need to do is to stop worrying about the 80% of small things that bother either of you about your relationship. All of us spend so much time getting annoyed by the little things that bother us, that we lose the big picture that really creates all these problems.

“Why is your relationship changing?’ is a better question to ask. Instead of “why does he/she behave this way?”

Examples of 80 20 rule in relationships

Here are a few examples of minor annoyances you could think about. Now these annoyances may seem like a big dealbreaker and something that’s worthy of getting frustrated.
1. Your partner comes late from work.

2. Your partner doesn’t like going out after they get back home.

3. Your lover isn’t romantic anymore.

4. Your partner spends all the time by themselves, playing games or watching the television.

5. Your partner falls asleep as soon as they get to bed.

But don’t they all stem from the same root cause?

*You feel neglected*

While there may be innumerable frustrations in your love life, the real reasons behind why they all crop up may be a handful.

What should you do to make your relationship better?

All relationships experience rough patches or confusions now and then. But they can all be fixed by realizing the most important factor. There’s always a root cause for the bigger problems. And almost always, 80% of your relationship problems are caused by 20% of each other’s actions and behaviors. 

So instead of trying to fix everything all at once, and failing miserably, address 20% of the issues that cause 80% of the frustrations in the relationship. Do this, and you’ll be able to sort the more noticeable problems along the way.

In a perfect relationship, lovers don’t focus on cleaning the surface. They get to the bottom of the problem even if it’s messier. Always get to the root cause. You’ll experience a better relationship and a happier life, just by following a principle of economy in your love life, called the 80 20 rule of relationships. 

But just a word of caution though, focusing on the 20% of problems can clear the most important of issues in a relationship. But sometimes, you also need to look into the other 80% of little problems now and then and weed them out.

The 80 20 rule in relationships is fascinating and can help you understand what matters in a relationship. But it’s up to your judgment to find and focus on the right details and take a passing glance at the smaller issues that crop up now and then.