Do you really know how your partner feels?

When we've been in a relationship for a long time, we may think we're pretty good at telling what our partner is feeling. Is that really the case, though?In the book The Little Prince, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes, "[W]e see well only with the heart," as "the essential is invisible to the eyes."
In this world view, we should rely on what our hearts, and not what our eyes, tell us to learn the truth about the world.
Can we extrapolate this to the realities of couple life? Well, a new study led by the Department of Psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, has investigated whether long-term romantic partners are good at telling each other's feelings throughout the day.
Previous research has found that romantic partners do well when it comes to picking up on positive affective cues, such as happiness, from each other, and it has predicted that the same would apply to more complex negative affective cues, such as sadness. But is that true?
Lead study author Chrystyna Kouros, a psychologist, suggests that we might not be as good as we think we are at understanding when our partner is feeling down and may need us to show them some moral support. Their findings were published in the journal Family Process.
"We found that when it comes to the normal ebb and flow of daily emotions, couples aren't picking up on those occasional changes in 'soft negative' emotions like sadness or feeling down. They might be missing important emotional clues."This could ultimately impact couple life, she says, noting that "failing to pick up on negative feelings 1 or 2 days is not a big deal." However, "if this accumulates, then down the road it could become a problem for the relationship."
"It's these missed opportunities to be offering support or talking it out that can compound over time to negatively affect a relationship," explains Kouros.'Empathic accuracy' is key
Kouros and co-author Lauren Papp worked with 55 heterosexual couples, of which 51 completed the study. These participants had initially been recruited for a larger project addressing family relationships and mental health.
At recruitment, the couples must have been living together for at least 2 years and have a child aged 10–16 who was living with them full-time.
When we've been in a relationship for a long time, we may think we're pretty good at telling what our partner is feeling. Is that really the case, though?In the book The Little Prince, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes, "[W]e see well only with the heart," as "the essential is invisible to the eyes."
In this world view, we should rely on what our hearts, and not what our eyes, tell us to learn the truth about the world.
Can we extrapolate this to the realities of couple life? Well, a new study led by the Department of Psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, has investigated whether long-term romantic partners are good at telling each other's feelings throughout the day.
Previous research has found that romantic partners do well when it comes to picking up on positive affective cues, such as happiness, from each other, and it has predicted that the same would apply to more complex negative affective cues, such as sadness. But is that true?
Lead study author Chrystyna Kouros, a psychologist, suggests that we might not be as good as we think we are at understanding when our partner is feeling down and may need us to show them some moral support. Their findings were published in the journal Family Process.
"We found that when it comes to the normal ebb and flow of daily emotions, couples aren't picking up on those occasional changes in 'soft negative' emotions like sadness or feeling down. They might be missing important emotional clues."This could ultimately impact couple life, she says, noting that "failing to pick up on negative feelings 1 or 2 days is not a big deal." However, "if this accumulates, then down the road it could become a problem for the relationship."
"It's these missed opportunities to be offering support or talking it out that can compound over time to negatively affect a relationship," explains Kouros.'Empathic accuracy' is keyKouros and co-author Lauren Papp worked with 55 heterosexual couples, of which 51 completed the study. These participants had initially been recruited for a larger project addressing family relationships and mental health.
At recruitment, the couples must have been living together for at least 2 years and have a child aged 10–16 who was living with them full-time.

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