The things we do for love

9:46AM, May 1, 2013
If you've had a bad day, science says doing anything nice for your guy is a waste of time. No, really.

When your boyfriend’s had a bad day, you can feel a little saintly sacrificing your The Voice-watching hour (hello, Ricky Martin) to cook dinner – especially when it’s his turn. But according to new research from the University of Arizona, if you’ve had a hellish day yourself, you’re not doing your reltionship any favours by putting his needs before your own.

Published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the study found that even though making small sacrifices can make you feel more committed and connected to your guy on a good day, it had zilch benefit if you were stressed out yourself.

FYI, “small sacrifices” are exactly that, things like picking up after him occasionally; not giving up your own hopes and dreams. The study labelled them as any little change you make in your daily routine in order to do something sweet for your man and to keep your relationship happy. 

The study gathered 164 couples, married and unmarried, with relationships ranging anywhere from six months to 44 years. For seven days, they were asked to individually fill out online surveys highlighting any sacrifice they made for their love. There were 12 categories to choose from, including household chores and the amount of the time they spent with their friends (e.g. less because they were doing something with/for their BF). They then had to list the number of hassles they had every day and how much these bugged them.

Finally, they had to rank on a scale of one to seven how devoted and close they felt to their partners and how satisfied they felt with their relationship that day. Low and behold, being a martyr on a bad day didn’t make anyone feel more loved-up or appreciated. While when all is fine and dandy in your world, doing selfless things will make you feel great about yourself and your relationship.

"On days when people were really stressed, when they were really hassled, those sacrifices weren't really beneficial anymore, because it was just one more thing on the plate at that point," says lead researcher Casey Totenhagen. "If you've already had a really stressful day, and then you come home and you're sacrificing for your partner, it's just one more thing.” And will probably just result in you becoming more annoyed generally and a bit resentful of your guy.

But the real kicker is that the guys (or girls) who got extra sofa time thanks to their partner’s sacrifice didn’t feel more dedicated to their love either. The theory is that they didn’t even notice anything special had been done for them! So the morale of the story is that of course it’s good to do nice things for your loved one, but if you’re having a hard time, go easy on yourself and commit to watching Gossip Girl reruns instead of picking him up from footy training, for that day at least.

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