When times are tough, scientists say don’t bother being nice to your partner, just don’t be a total jerk. New research from Baylor University shows that not being an a-hole to your sweetie during stressful times is more important than actually being encouraging.
In a survey of 325 couples and 154 partnered individuals, researchers found that negative behaviors, like blaming your partner, “tend to trigger more intense and immediate responses” than showing support when things get rough. And the survey shows the way a couple works together during trying times is associated with satisfaction with the relationship.
“When people face stressful life events, they are especially sensitive to negative behavior, such as when a partner seems to be argumentative, overly emotional, withdrawn or fails to do something that was expected,” study author and psychology professor Keith Sanford, Ph.D.,says in a press release. “In contrast, they’re less sensitive to positive behavior, such as giving each other comfort.”
So basically, if you’re trying to make your S.O. feel better while dealing with stressful situations in life, you’re better off just backing off any negative behavior than trying to do something positive, like being encouraging. So lower the bar and do the bare minimum and you’re good.