You may think that you know your partner like the back of your hand — you share your lives with each other. However, new research suggests that you may not know your partner as well as you think you do.
Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis determined that even the most dedicated of couples in long-running, exclusive relationships cannot identify how their partner handles emotional issues.
Lameese Eldesouky, the lead author of the study, explains that “Happier couples see their partners in a more positive light than do less happy couples…” and they “…tend to underestimate how often a partner is suppressing emotions and…overestimate a partner’s ability to see the bright side of an issue that might otherwise spark negative emotions.”
In other words, couples can’t identify what their partner may be thinking and often misunderstand their perspective on certain situations.
In Eldesouky’s study, she examines how accurate couples are in judging personality characteristics and emotional coping mechanisms.
Researchers focused on two underlying coping mechanisms that can be difficult to spot: expressive suppression (stoically hiding one’s emotions behind a calm and quiet poker face) and cognitive reappraisal (changing one’s perspective to see the silver lining behind a bad situation).
This revealed that couples are generally able to judge their partners’ emotional patterns with some degree of accuracy, but have trouble differentiating between reappraisal than suppression.
The study also found that women most often see their partners in a more positive light than do men and they overestimate their partners’ ability to look on the bright side. Another finding concludes that if someone is more emotional, their romantic partner thinks they are less likely to hide emotions. Similarly, if someone frequently expresses positive emotions, such as happiness, their romantic partner thinks they use reappraisal more than they actually do.
Eldesouky confirms how difficult it is to identify emotions in another person. The study emphasizes how its really impossible to gauge what brews in your partner’s mind. Although you may have an idea, the best way to understand your partner’s thoughts is through verbal communication.
Source: University of Washington