Entries in "we" (3)


“Still Too Close for Comfort”: The Paradox of Closeness

In a previous post, we looked at some recent research on the hidden risks of closeness in romantic relationships. It turns out that the closeness that people feel in romantic relationships may not be so beneficial when it doesn’t match the closeness they would ideally like. People who don’t feel close enough to their romantic partners tend to be more depressed, less satisfied with their relationships, and less committed to their partners, and they, not surprisingly, think about breaking up more often.1 And guess what? The same is true of people who feel too close to their romantic partners. These findings raise questions about what couples can do when the closeness one or both partner's desire is different from the closeness they actually feel. 

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Too Close for Comfort? The Potential Pitfalls of “You + Me = We”

There’s something to be said about the “we-ness” of high-quality romantic relationships. When you think of your relationships in a plural sense (e.g., “We've been together for 6 years,” rather than "I've been with him/her for 6 years"), you sometimes start to define who you are (what psychologists call your self-concept) in terms of those relationships. By defining yourself in this way, you include aspects of your romantic partner in your self-concept. For example, you might take on some of your partner's characteristics, or see your partner's interests as your own (think about it – did you actually get into that eccentric rock band because you think they make great music...or was it because your partner liked them first?). In many studies, partners who define themselves in this pluralistic way tend to enjoy greater closeness, more commitment, and greater relationship satisfaction.1,2 In other words, the more you include your partner in your self-concept, the better your relationship is likely to be.

But is it always good when we include our partners in our selves? 

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“Me” and “You” and “Us”: I’m Confused

Can couple members be so close to one another that their individual identities merge into one? We might think of couples, like “TomKat” (Tom Cruise + Katie Holmes) and “Beyon-Z” (Beyonce + Jay-Z…yep, you heard that one here first), as a single unit, but do they think about themselves that way? 

They do if they’re committed to their relationships. More committed people think of themselves as being a part of a single unit that includes their partners.

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