Bad Behavior To Significant Other In Tough Times Has More Impact Than Positive Gestures

It seems you don’t even have to be particularly nice to your partner if they’re going through a rough time–just don’t be a jerk. Baylor University researchers looked at 325 couples who were married or were living with a partner and all reported experiences of at least one of six possible stressful events within the past month (including things like losing a job, experiencing a parent’s death, etc.) Researchers asked participants to remember the past month, then write a few words down describing different memories of interactions occurring in their relationships and indicate how often specific types of interactions occurred in their relationships. The data revealed that compared with positive gestures, negatives ones tended to trigger more intense responses. Researcher, Dr. Keith Sanford explains, ” When people face stressful life events, they are especially sensitive to negative behavior in their relationships, such as when a partner seems to be argumentative, overly emotional, withdrawn or fails to do something that was expected. In contrast, they’re less sensitive to positive behavior — such as giving each other comfort.” The take-home message: When times are tough it matters more that you’re not a jerk to your partner than if you are overly nice to him or her.