Pronouns as a Tool to Know Your Romantic Partner's Feelings

A new study says the use of I, You, or We could help you gauge your partner's attachment style.

Who would have thought that grammar could help us understand love?

The mere use of the pronouns I, You or Us can indeed provide a better insight into our romantic partner's thoughts towards the relationship.

A team of researchers in social and personality psychology looked into the way people used these terms, the results of which were published in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science last week. 

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The findings discovered that people with avoidant attachment styles are less likely to use the term "we" when discussing their relationship. 

Pay close attention to you partner's use of pronouns

“The pronouns individuals use when narrating their previous experiences from their romantic lives provide a clue as to their corresponding attachment styles,” says Will Dunlop from the University of California, Riverside, and lead author of the research.

Two standout factors bring about specific attachment styles. One is anxiety - if a person is worried about or is afraid of losing their romantic partner, and the other is avoidance - if a person struggles to get close to their partner.

How did Dunlop and his colleagues figure this out? 

They used more than 1400 observations from seven studies. Then, the relations between adults in a romantic relationship, their attachment styles and their pronoun use were explored. 

"I" vs. "We"

Unsurprisingly, the team discovered that both the anxious and the avoidant attachment styles struggled and reacted negatively to the term "We", but reacted positively when using "I".

However, once a closer look into the studied people's demographics and personalities was taken into account, those under the anxious type, no longer feared the "We" term. Avoidant types, though, still rarely used the term "We," regardless.

Those of you in relationships, or budding ones, pay close attention now.

Dunlop points out that the way in which people describe their past romantic experiences and relationships could be a way of understanding how they will act when they are in a romantic relationship. 

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“Anxious and avoidant attachment styles capture individual differences in the ways people think, feel, and behave in romantic relationships," says Dunlop.

"Given that those with higher levels of avoidant attachment were found to demonstrate lower levels of we-talk when describing experiences from their romantic lives, considering the use of we words (e.g., us, ours) in the disclosure of previous romantic experiences may offer indication of one’s avoidant tendencies. This is a relatively novel and indirect way of gauging avoidant attachment, as individuals are typically unaware of the pronouns they use.”

The next time you are on a first date and the mighty topic of past relationships comes up, listen closely, as you now have the tools to gauge how the person will behave in their next romantic relationship. 

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Just remember: I, You, or We.

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