“We love Stranger Things,” your friend tells you over dinner. She then follows up with, “No bread for me, thanks. We’re giving up gluten this month.” And while her husband’s not with you at the restaurant, he might as well be. Cue major eye roll.
But here’s the thing: Although your friend’s “we talk” (using “we” when describing a shared activity with a partner) is super annoying, it’s actually good for her marriage. That’s per a recent study from the University of California, Riverside that suggests that the frequent use of “we” and “us” is linked to happier and healthier relationships.
Researchers analyzed 30 different studies involving more than 5,000 participants, looking at the frequency of “we talk” (a sign of interdependence) and how it correlated to relationship outcomes and health. “The primary takeaway is that interdependence may bring about supportive and relationship-centered behaviors and positive perceptions of the partner—especially important in times of stress and conflict,” said study author Alexander Karan.
Interestingly, hearing your partner use “we talk” had an even bigger impact than just using it yourself.
But does “we talk” actually make couples happier, or are happier couples using it more because they’re happier? “It is likely both. Hearing yourself or a partner say these words could shift individuals’ ways of thinking to be more interdependent, which could lead to a healthier relationship,” said study author and psychologist Megan Robbins. “However, it could also be the case that because the relationship is healthy and interdependent, the partners are being supportive and use ‘we talk.’”
Either way—try not to give too much side-eye when your friend says she’s “staying on top of our Instagram account because our emotional support lizard is really keeping us busy these days.” (Just kidding. That one totally deserves it.)