Happier Relationships Start With “We”
What if a single word change could revolutionize your relationship with a significant other? What if one simple vocabulary choice could predict just how happy or healthy your relationship is? According to new research, there is a two-letter word that does exactly that: “We.”
Psychologists and relationship experts have been extensively studying the difference between couples and individuals who use "I-talk" and those who use "we-talk."
The former is when you use lots of "I" first-person pronouns, like:
The latter is the opposite and uses more inclusive first-person plural pronouns, such as "ours" and "we."
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "depressive symptomatology is manifested in greater first-person singular pronoun use (i.e., I-talk).” (1) The study concludes that “self-referential language using first-person singular pronouns may therefore be better construed as a linguistic marker of general distress proneness or negative emotionality.”
What does that mean in everyday talk? When broken down, the researchers note that excessive use of "I-talk" increases the chances that the person using this language is in greater emotional distress and more likely to experience a wide range of negative emotions.
But that study only looked at individuals. It turns out that this insight into negativity, emotional health and “I-talk” also applies to couples. Another study, this time published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, (2) looked at more than 30 different studies of “I-talk” and how this type of self-referential language applied to romantic relationships.
Here's what they discovered:
Couples who used "we-talk" felt more supported in the relationship
Using "we-talk" led to greater levels of positivity in romantic relationships
"We-talk" increased behaviors that the researchers said were relationship-centered
The more “we-talk” someone used, the more positive they perceived their romantic partner.
Thus, if you want to experience a happier, healthier relationship, take a look at the pronouns you use within your relationship.
Making the simple choice to use “we” instead of “me” more often, and referring to things in your life as “ours” or “us,” can evolve your conversations and cultivate an emotional presence in your relationship that leads to more love, support and joy.
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