How Saying 'We' Can Revolutionize Your Relationship
Kelly Gonsalves is the sex and relationships editor at mindbodygreen. Her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.
Our words matter. The way we talk about ourselves, our lives, and the world around us can create tangible ripple effects and even outcomes. When we perpetually call ourselves tired, we're going to feel tired; when we put labels on certain situations or people, we're activating those very labels and breathing life into them. The latest example, according to a recent scientific paper: The way we speak about our relationships can actually affect just how strong and healthy they are.
The new research, which analyzed 30 different studies with a combined total of 5,288 participants, looked at the way members of couples used what's known as "we-talk"—that is, the tendency to speak using shared pronouns ("we" and "us") as opposed to individual ones (like "I," "me," and "you"). We-talk tends to be a manifestation of interdependence, meaning the two people in a couple consider themselves a combined unit rather than two separate people connecting with each other. This new study found that "we-talk" was associated with a host of positive qualities, including improved relationship functioning, behaviors, and outcomes.
Put in plain language, people who used more cohesive language while talking about their relationship also tended to behave better toward their partner, make better use of good interpersonal skills like compromise, be more satisfied with the relationship, and generally experience more commitment. As a cherry on top, the we-talk was also associated with better mental health and physical health behaviors as well.
That's a lot of good outcomes coming out of one small shift in speech.
"We-talk reflects a pivotal shift in individuals' perceptions when in romantic relationships—changing from self- to relationship-oriented motivations," the study reads. "In romantic relationships, those who have relationship-oriented, rather than self-oriented, motivations tend to have more satisfying relationships."
When you're viewing your relationship as a solid union, you become more invested in its well-being. Your partner stops being an adversary or someone who you have to manage, keep satisfied, or keep interested; instead they're a true teammate, and you're each an integral part of each other's happiness. That interdependence lends motivation and strength—and it can be realized through something as simple as saying the word "we."
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