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Couples who use pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ may be happier in love

The Independent logo The Independent 6 days ago Sabrina Barr
a man wearing a suit and tie standing next to a woman © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

When a couple has been together for a very long time, it can be easy to think of themselves as a collective unit, a ‘two-for-one package’, rather than as separate individuals.

While some may find the notion of excessive interdependence in a relationship slightly nauseating, according to recent research, couples who refer to themselves as “we” and “us” in conversation are more likely to be happier in love than those who don’t.

Researchers from the University of California investigated the correlation between the use of first-person plural pronouns (such as “we”, “our”, “us”) and the health of romantic relationships.

The team, led by psychologist Megan Robbins, analysed 30 studies involving more than 5,000 participants, half of whom were married.

The researchers took five main factors into account: how long the couples have been together; their behaviour within the relationships; the mental health of the participants; their physical health; and how well they look after themselves on a daily basis.

They came to the conclusion that “we-talk” proved beneficial in all categories, corresponding with happier relationships on all counts.

“The benefit of analysing 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 Robbins’ laboratory.

The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that we-talk had a positive effect in relationships across all age groups.

However, the question of whether happy couples are naturally more likely to use first-person plural pronouns or whether using the pronouns can make a couple more happy is yet to be determined.

“It is likely both,” Robbins says.

“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.”

Last month, a survey carried out by Mattress Advisor explored how long it takes for people who are romantically involved to feel comfortable with one another.

1,000 people were questioned as part of the study, which discovered that a man is likely to feel comfortable walking around a bedroom naked after approximately 2.8 months, a month less than it would take an average woman.

Furthermore, it would take a man 3.8 months to feel comfortable showering with a partner, in comparison to 5.2 months for a woman.


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