Being genuinely happy for your partner seems like a given. When they get that big promotion they’ve been after or finally run that eight-minute mile they’ve been working on, you should be just as stoked as they are. But we’re human and let’s be honest, sometimes if something doesn’t directly involve us it doesn’t quite stir up that same sense of excitement your partner was hoping for (depressing, but true). But as you may have guessed, it turns out that sincerely feeling the positive experiences your other half is sharing with you could be key to a long, lasting relationship.
A study published in the journal, Human Brain Mapping recently surveyed the brain signals of 14 women with an average age of 72 who have been married for an average of 40 years. Here’s how the experiment went down: the researchers showed the women silent videos with mislabeled titles. For example, they would play a video labeled something like, “Joe talks about his first car accident” but it would actually be a video of Joe remembering his wedding day. When the wives saw the unexpected positive reaction from their husbands they experienced a spike in brain activity.
On the flip side, if they were shown a video of their husband or a stranger recalling a sad memory, the women’s brain activity remained relatively unaffected. While it may seem a little cold at first not to feel your partner’s pain just as much as your do their joy, other studies have suggested that piggybacking off another person’s happiness is what’s really key to keeping you both in good spirits. If your partner came home from a terrible day at work and you took on their emotions just as much as you did their happy ones that’d lead to a majorly depressing evening.
The way they conducted the study is a little bit wacky, but essentially it all boils down to the idea that if you and your partner are emotionally interdependent, your relationship is likely to be happier overall. Dr. Duana Welch, author of Love Factually, tells The Daily Mail, “Many of us tend to think we choose partners who help us work on our issues, and of course, that’s part of what happens in good relationships, but science increasingly shows that we choose one another for how good they make us feel.”
Are you in a long term relationship? Do you agree with these findings? Share with us in the comments below.