Valentine’s Day is here and you want to do something special for your girl. You give it some thought and suddenly have an idea. She’s on a mission to ace an important exam. Why not really support her and help her reach her goal? Obviously, you’ve been doing your best not to distract her when she’s studying. But what can you really do that will actually make a difference?
Well, consider yourself lucky because a team of US researchers set out to help the partners – who want to help. The team tracked down 850 women in committed heterosexual relationships.
What women want
Some of the women were asked to think of a concrete way their guy helped them with a goal. Others wrote down a way their guy was emotionally supportive, either by saying encouraging things or chatting about their goal with them.
Next, the women told the researchers whether they planned to stick to their goal and how important it was to them. Actions speak louder than words, the research showed. Evidence that how a partner provides his support makes all the difference.
Concrete actions like making dinner for your partner so she can keep at the books are likely to be more helpful than encouraging words. When you do something real for your partner as opposed to supporting her with words, it makes the impact in the real sense. It can boost the time and energy she puts into her goal and also how committed she is to achieving it, the results also showed.
Actions speak louder than words
But how do you know what to do? Here’s a helpful tip: try thinking of something that’s worked wonders for you in similar situations. Maybe when you were studying for exams you had no time to prepare meals and ate junk food for days on end.
So you know that having dinner ready helps. Or maybe after reading for hours what you really needed was to chat with a friend or get outside for some fresh air. Whatever it was that worked for you might just make a difference for your girlfriend too.
Reference: For Better or for Worse? Outsourcing Self-Regulation and Goal Pursuit. Social Psychological and Personality Science. (2017) 34(8):1324-46.
Persons in the picture are models.