CHAPEL HILL, N.C., May 28 (UPI) — Kind gestures can cement a romantic relationship — but only if a partner expresses gratitude, U.S. researchers suggest.
Lead author Dr. Sara Algoe of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues says people do things for each other all the time, but that doesn’t mean that the emotion of gratitude will be felt. A partner may not notice a kind gesture, or the partner may have a different reaction to receiving a benefit from someone — including resentment, misunderstanding or indebtedness.
A partner planning a celebratory meal, taking a child to the zoo so the other partner can have a break or making an effort to get special coffee are examples of gratuitous behavior that could strengthen romantic relationships, if the recipient feels grateful in response, Algoe says.
The researchers tracked 65 couples in a satisfying and committed relationship for day-to-day fluctuations in relationship satisfaction and connection.
The study, scheduled to be published in the June issue of Personal Relationships, found the positive impact on the relationship from kind gestures was noticed even the day after the feeling of gratitude was expressed.
However, if the partner feels indebtedness — a need to repay kind gestures — such acts may not yield benefits, the researchers said.
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