You know those couples who talk as though they’re attached at the hip? “We just love Sunday morning yoga.” “We’re trying to stick to low-FODMAP foods right now.” “We just feng-shui’d the living room.” As annoying as it is (and it is) a new meta-analysis of relationship research suggests that you can no longer begrudge them their first-person plural fun: Using “we” when describing a shared activity with an S.O. can be majorly beneficial for the relationship.
By examining 30 studies involving 5,300 participants, University of California Riverside’s Megan Robbins, PhD, found that this speech pattern, which the researchers refer to as “we-talk,” indicates an interdependent relationship between the partners, rather than a selfish, me-focused mentality.
To reach this conclusion, Dr. Robbins and her team analyzed five relationship measures: relationship outcomes (including satisfaction and duration of the relationship), relationship behaviors (whether positive or negative), mental health, physical health, and self-care-related behaviors. And the results might make you want to get a head-start on cuffing season. “The benefit of analyzing many different couples in a lot of different contexts is that it establishes we-talk isn’t just positively related in one context, but that it indicates positive functioning overall,” says Alexander Karan, a graduate student in Dr. Robbins’ lab and lead author on the study.
Using “we” was also found to help settle conflicts, and hearing your other half use it feels even better than saying it yourself.
A closer look at the findings reveals that women and men benefited almost equally from we-talk, and older and younger generations alike felt better with the pronoun in play. Using “we” was also found to help settle conflicts, and hearing your other half use it feels even better than saying it yourself.
Dr. Robbins caveats that this is definitely a chicken-or-the-egg situation: Do happy couples just use “we” a lot, or does using “we” make couples happy? “It’s likely both. Hearing yourself or a partner say these words could shift individuals’ ways of thinking to be more interdependent, which could lead to a healthier relationship,” she says.
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