Advertising
Advertising

If You Have Low Self Control, You’re Actually More Selfless in Relationships

If You Have Low Self Control, You’re Actually More Selfless in Relationships

The common belief is that a sustainable relationship requires both parties to be devoted to one another and willing to sacrifice for each other – which typically means having a strong level of self-control in order to make rational decisions that take into account both of your needs. Impulsivity, many believe, makes you a more selfish and uncaring partner, and is a bad trait for someone to have in a relationship.

However, a recent study found that this common belief may not quite be accurate.

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of London, who published their study in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, demonstrated that people with low self-control were more likely to take on more than their fair share of burdens than people with high self-control.[1]

Advertising

This suggests that they are actually more likely to behave selflessly as a result of their impulsivity. Although the study was limited in scope and more research needs to be done into the field, the results indicate that previous understandings of how impulsivity affects decision may be more cynical than they need to be.

They are willing to take a greater share of the burden

The results of the study suggest that contrary to previous understandings of how impulsivity affects one’s behavior, an instinct towards helping others might be our natural response to difficulties and challenges throughout life.[2]

The study asked couples to prepare to answer 12 strangers’ embarrassing questions about themselves, and were given the choice to decide how to tackle the task. Participants with higher self-control were more likely to divide the questions and strangers evenly, giving both members of the couple six questions and six strangers. However, participants with lower self-control were more willing to take on more of the embarrassing questions and conversations with strangers, saving their partners from the conversations.

Advertising

Their instinct is to think of their partners first

The study showed that participants who had higher self-control were likely to take more time to think through the impact of their actions, including the negative impact it would have on them, and weigh that against the impact it would have on their partner, whereas impulsive people were apparently more likely to take on the task of relieving their partner of a burden.

This suggests that our instinct is to care for our partners, while logic – which tells us to care about ourselves – will make us take a step back and temper what we are willing to do for others.

This is a healthy instinct to people in relationships to foster. The need to balance your own interests over others can prevent you, in some cases, from being willing to offer your partner a vape pen when they most need it. By identifying and encouraging a desire to help your partner first, you become a more caring a providing partner.

Advertising

They expect their partners to reciprocate their devotion

On the other hand, those same scientists found that people in relationships who had more impulsivity and displayed more willingness to take a greater share of a burden than their partner were also more likely to hold higher standards and feel more resentment if their partner doesn’t go above and beyond for them, as well.

The scientists suggested that this may be a result of the impulsive person being unable to see past a partner’s current action to judge the relationship as a whole, and thus is more likely to hold an individual event or behavior against their partner, suggesting that they have more difficulty thinking through the big picture than less impulsive people.

They have to beware of letting resentment build up

The scientists pointed out that selfless behavior could be a downside over a long period of time, particularly if one partner is making multiple sacrifices.[3]

Advertising

In addition, holding a grudge about a particular incident instead of viewing the whole relationship could also sour a devoted partner. Lead researcher Francesca Righetti said such a problem is a delicate balance between all couples, but this particular trait may identify couples who struggle with it more.

Impulsivity seems to have some benefits and some trade-offs; partners with impulsive partners should take note of ensuring both members of the relationship are making sacrifices, not just one half, while impulsive partners should take care to evaluate their partner’s behavior overall, rather than through the lens of specific events.

Foster your relationship by encouraging the desire to prioritize your partner over yourself. However, such a strategy should be employed evenly by both partners. If your partner isn’t willing to sacrifice as much for you as you are for them, you may be taken advantage of instead.

Featured photo credit: Hamza Butt via flic.kr

Reference

More by this author

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With 8 Signs You Have A Strong Personality That Might Scare Some People How to Achieve Quick Success at Work Even If You’re Lacking in Clear Direction You’ll No Longer Be Fooled by Skillful Liars If You Know This Concept How I Kill Boredom at Work to Regain My Productivity

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 2 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 3 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 4 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

Advertising

    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

      Advertising

        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

          Advertising

          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

          Advertising

          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

          Read Next