316 Actively Support Partner Expansion

Based on research by Fivecoat, Hayley. C., Tomlinson, Jennifer. M., Aron, Arthur., & Caprariello, Peter. A. (2014). written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Does your partner support your efforts to follow your passions and use your talents? Does encouraging your partners’ skills, knowledge acquisition and vision build strong relationships?

Social Psychologists tested whether active versus passive support for a partner’s self-expansion would increase relationship satisfaction in a learning situation and/or in a stressful situation. First, 60 couples completed a computer puzzle together to learn to communicate with each other via only instant messaging. Half had added stress when they were told that afterwards they’d reteach photography skills they would learn. During the learning session, they thought their partner was responding, but researchers either pretended to be the individual’s partner with messages actively encouraging (‘‘I bet you’ll be really good at that’’) or weakly supporting (‘‘sounds all right’’).

Those in longer relationships (1-5 years) increased in their relationship satisfaction when receiving active support for self-expansion. This result did not hold for shorter term couples or for couples receiving messages in the stressed group.

Encourage your partner, “Yes take that class!” “You would be terrific!” “You can do it.” To enhance your relationship, actively take a role in cheering your partner towards their dreams!


Fivecoat, H. C., Tomlinson, J. M., Aron, A., & Caprariello, P. A. (2014). Partner support for individual self-expansion opportunities: Effects on relationship satisfaction in long-term couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1-18.

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