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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]

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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