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Image / Editorial

Silence In Relationships? New Study Says It’s A Good Thing

16th Sep 2015


At the beginning of a relationship, we tend to view lulls in conversation as a bad thing. Instead, we strive for the continuous flow of chat that we so often associate with successful bonding. Contrary to popular belief, however, when you’ve been in a relationship for a little longer, quieter moments between you can actually improve your bond. What’s more, it eases the pressure of always having something to discuss. Isn’t it lovely when you can sit in silence yet feel totally comfortable and at ease? Whether you’re a big talker or a bit of a wallflower, sometimes you just can’t beat a bit of peace and quiet.

In a new piece of research by those at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, it’s been highlighted that a little silence with your partner can be not just harmless but actually a good thing, provided you’re already mentally connected with one another. As part of their study, the researchers began by asking romantic couples how secure they felt in their relationship and how connected they felt to their significant other. Following this, where they agreed or disagreed with statements like ‘It is likely that my partner will terminate our relationship within the next 6 months’ or ‘My current partner feels strongly connected to me’, the couples were asked to have a conversation with each other from separate cubicles via headsets. Half of the couples conversation never stopped, and there was no delay between their responses. The other half of couples conversation was interrupted by a one second lag between their communication. After the experiment, both groups were asked how validated they felt during the conversation.

Interestingly, those who experienced the one-second delay felt more validated and more connected to their partner than those who enjoyed uninterrupted conversations.

With this, the researchers propose, as explained by The Science Of Relationships, that ‘a pause in conversation might leave relationship partners to ?fill in the gaps? on their own. When conversation delays, partners may use the information that they already have about the relationship to assume their partners? beliefs. When the couple feels very connected, they are likely to infer that they are on the same wavelength, leaving them feeling even more understood. For people who don’t already feel so connected, these disruptions do not give the same reassurance. Rather, they likely just reinforce the lack of connection already felt.

This group of researchers report similar results in other close non-romantic pairs (e.g., friendships and family). It seems that the closer you feel to someone, silence or other interruptions in conversation can be beneficial for your relationship due to feelings of agreement that tend to accompany the disruptions. In relationships, sometimes silence is golden.’

More reason to enjoy each other’s company without filling every second with commentary. Bliss!

The Science Of Relationships