There’s nothing worse than a nagging partner, and sometimes it’s easier just to tune your S.O. out when they won’t stop going on and on about whatever it is they want you to do. While ignoring them seems like a pretty crappy thing to do—not to mention one that could ruin your relationship—it turns out that some couples might actually benefit from the silent treatment.
A new study performed at California University in Los Angeles and published by the American Psychological Association says that sometimes giving the cold shoulder and saying nothing at all rather than engaging in an all-out fight with your partner can have positive effects on relationships—but there’s one major caveat.
According to the research, ignoring your partner’s requests is only helpful for low-income couples, while those who make more money tend to notice the opposite effect. As the study explains, “A wife requests her husband ask for a raise at work. For a husband in a low-wage job with less job security, that is a risky proposition. By showing reluctance to ask for the raise, he can preserve his self-esteem and lessen emphasis on the couple’s vulnerable financial situation. For a wealthier couple in the same situation, the wife may perceive the husband is unwilling to make a sacrifice for his family and that can cause friction in the relationship.”
The behavior is known as “demand-withdraw” and has been known since the 1930s, but it’s only recently that researchers decided to delve deeper on the trend and really discover what effect it has on relationships. With the latest study, which focused on couples from all economic and ethnic backgrounds, the results were mixed but with very clear divides.
“Even though it’s easier for wealthier couples to access resources to address their relationship problems, it can also create higher expectations that partners will make accommodations for one another’s demands and needs that underlie their problems,” explained study co-author and professor Thomas Bradbury. “But if those expectations are not met, rifts can occur in the relationship and exacerbate the existing problems.”
Clearly the results aren’t advocating for ignoring your partner’s requests or demands, but it’s certainly food for thought. While we all want to preserve our pride and may resist what we feel are unreasonable or simply undesirable demands, the real key to a successful relationship is talking it out in a mature, respectful manner, regardless of your financial situation.
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