It is quite common that couples who have been together for a long time start to see each other as a collective unit as opposed to separate individuals – especially if they’re married.
Terms like ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are soon replaced with ‘we’ and ‘us’, and while that notion of interdependence may seem nauseating to some, a new study has revealed that it is actually a sign of a happier relationship.
According to recent research conducted at the University of California, couples who refer to themselves as ‘we’ and ‘us’ in conversation are officially more likely to be happier in love than those who don’t.
The conclusion was met after a team of researchers, led by psychologist Megan Robbins, investigated the correlation between the use of first-person plural pronouns (for example ‘we,’ ‘our’, ‘us’) and the health of romantic relationships. As part of their research, they analysed 30 studies involving more than 5,000 participants (half of whom were married) taking 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.
As a result, they found that the active use of ‘we-talk’ corresponded directly with overall happier relationships across all ages.
Alexander Karan, a graduate student on Robbins’ research team, said: ‘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.’
However, the study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, didn’t actually outline whether happy couples are naturally more likely to use first-person plural pronouns or whether using the pronouns made the couples more happy.
‘It is likely both,’ Robbins said. ‘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.’