Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor
I would like to take a minute to discuss a topic near-and-dear to my heart. That topic is gratitude - a feeling and expression of thankfulness for the efforts of others that are costly to them and beneficial to us. I have long believed that gratitude is a foundation for happy dates, satisfying relationships, and positive social exchange. I also believe gratitude is very persuasive and influential. Now, I have the research to back up my beliefs. Read on and learn how gratitude can help your love life too!
Grant and Gino (2010) investigated the effects of expressions of gratitude on the positive behavior of helpers across four experiments:
More recently, Kubacka, Finkenauer, Rusbult, and Keijsers (2011) evaluated the effects of gratitude on loving "relationship maintenance" behaviors. More specifically, the researchers investigated how gratitude influences positive behaviors towards a spouse over time. Results indicate:
Overall, gratitude has two powerful influences on positive relationship behavior. When we express gratitude to a partner, we increase the chances that they will behave well towards us in the future. When we feel gratitude, we increase the chance that we will behave well towards them. If our partner feels grateful for our good behavior as well, then a positive cycle develops. Everybody is grateful...and everybody behaves lovingly.
Focus on both the feeling and expression of gratitude to create a good interaction. This is important, whether it is a first date, or after years of marriage. Follow these tips:
1) Feel Gratitude - Pay attention to the positive and supportive behaviors of your date or mate. Take note when they do something positive and effortful that benefits you. This will bring out your feelings of appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness for their efforts. It will also motivate you to value your partner and treat him/her well in return.
2) Show Thanks - Also, when you notice that your partner has done something good for you, be sure to thank them. Show them that you appreciate their efforts. Write them a note. Say thank you. Give them a kiss or a hug. Do something nice in return. Such expressions of gratitude will motivate his/her future loving behavior. It serves as a reinforcement to encourage the behaviors you desire as well. (For more on reward and reinforcement, see here)
3) Look for Appreciation - Because gratitude motivates loving behavior, it is important that your date or mate is grateful for what you do for them too. So, do something loving for them (that you know is important to them and they like). Then, see whether they notice, appreciate it, and show gratitude in some way. If they do, then a positive cycle of gratitude and loving behavior can develop between you both. Keep it up! If they don't appreciate your efforts, however, especially after multiple attempts, then other influence might be warranted.
4) Troubleshoot (When Necessary) - If you seem to have an ungrateful partner, there are a four fixes to try:
Gratitude makes the relationship world go around. It is an essential feature. Expressions of gratitude influence loving behavior in partners. Feelings of gratitude influence loving behaviors towards partners. When both co-occur, a positive upward spiral of reciprocal caring behavior results. So, when gratitude isn't part of a relationship, try to find it, make it, or leave for more thankful situations. When it is there between you and a partner, however, be appreciative and grateful for it :)
Until next time...happy dating and relating!
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© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.