Friday, May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017

If You Have Low Self Control, You're Actually More Selfless in Relationships

The common belief is that a sustainable relationship requires both parties to be devoted to one another and willing to sacrifice for each other – which typically means having a strong level of self-control in order to make rational decisions that take into account both of your needs. Impulsivity, many believe, makes you a more selfish and uncaring partner, and is a bad trait for someone to have in a relationship.

However, a recent study found that this common belief may not quite be accurate.

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of London, who published their study in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, demonstrated that people with low self-control were more likely to take on more than their fair share of burdens than people with high self-control.[1]

This suggests that they are actually more likely to behave selflessly as a result of their impulsivity. Although the study was limited in scope and more research needs to be done into the field, the results indicate that previous understandings of how impulsivity affects decision may be more cynical than they need to be.

They are willing to take a greater share of the burden

The results of the study suggest that contrary to previous understandings of how impulsivity affects one’s behavior, an instinct towards helping others might be our natural response to difficulties and challenges throughout life.[2]

The study asked couples to prepare to answer 12 strangers’ embarrassing questions about themselves, and were given the choice to decide how to tackle the task. Participants with higher self-control were more likely to divide the questions and strangers evenly, giving both members of the couple six questions and six strangers. However, participants with lower self-control were more willing to take on more of the embarrassing questions and conversations with strangers, saving their partners from the conversations.

Their instinct is to think of their partners first

The study showed that participants who had higher self-control were likely to take more time to think through the impact of their actions, including the negative impact it would have on them, and weigh that against the impact it would have on their partner, whereas impulsive people were apparently more likely to take on the task of relieving their partner of a burden.

This suggests that our instinct is to care for our partners, while logic – which tells us to care about ourselves – will make us take a step back and temper what we are willing to do for others.

This is a healthy instinct to people in relationships to foster. The need to balance your own interests over others can prevent you, in some cases, from being willing to offer your partner a vape pen when they most need it. By identifying and encouraging a desire to help your partner first, you become a more caring a providing partner.

They expect their partners to reciprocate their devotion

On the other hand, those same scientists found that people in relationships who had more impulsivity and displayed more willingness to take a greater share of a burden than their partner were also more likely to hold higher standards and feel more resentment if their partner doesn’t go above and beyond for them, as well.

The scientists suggested that this may be a result of the impulsive person being unable to see past a partner’s current action to judge the relationship as a whole, and thus is more likely to hold an individual event or behavior against their partner, suggesting that they have more difficulty thinking through the big picture than less impulsive people.

They have to beware of letting resentment build up

The scientists pointed out that selfless behavior could be a downside over a long period of time, particularly if one partner is making multiple sacrifices.[3]

In addition, holding a grudge about a particular incident instead of viewing the whole relationship could also sour a devoted partner. Lead researcher Francesca Righetti said such a problem is a delicate balance between all couples, but this particular trait may identify couples who struggle with it more.

Impulsivity seems to have some benefits and some trade-offs; partners with impulsive partners should take note of ensuring both members of the relationship are making sacrifices, not just one half, while impulsive partners should take care to evaluate their partner’s behavior overall, rather than through the lens of specific events.

Foster your relationship by encouraging the desire to prioritize your partner over yourself. However, such a strategy should be employed evenly by both partners. If your partner isn’t willing to sacrifice as much for you as you are for them, you may be taken advantage of instead.

Featured photo credit: Hamza Butt via flic.kr

Reference

The post If You Have Low Self Control, You’re Actually More Selfless in Relationships appeared first on Lifehack.



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