According to a recent study published in Applied Mathematics and Computation, a certain time range is necessary for compound emotions to form. Reacting too quickly or taking too long to respond can both lead to trouble.
Building on a relationship reactivity model first described by Steven Strogatz in 1988, Natalia Bielczyk looked at a more life-like model for processing and forming the complex emotions in relationships.
The reactivity in the relationship model is based on four parameters: both partners have a personal history (their ‘past’), and a certain reactivity to their partner and his/her history. Depending on these parameters, different classes of relationships can be found: some seem doomed to break regardless of the partners promptness to one another, while others are solid enough to always be stable whether or not a response is too prompt or too delayed .
In the calculated models, stability occurs when both partners reach a stable level of satisfaction and the sinus wave disappears. The paper concludes that for a broad class of relationships, delays in reactivity can bring stability to couples that are originally unstable.
These results are pretty intuitive: too prompt or too delayed responses evoke trouble. Below a certain value, delays caused instability and above this value they caused stability, showing that some minimum level of sloth can be beneficial for a relationship. The fact that too fast emotional reactivity can lead to destabilization, shows that reflecting each other’s moods is not enough for a stable relationship.
Summarized, the publication offers mathematical justification for intuitive phenomena in social psychology. Working on good communication, studying each other’s emotions and working out the right timing can improve your relationship, even without trying to change your partners traits (which is harder and takes more time).