Why You Should Stop Thinking That “Being Nice” in a Relationship Is a Weakness

couple holding handsBeing nice has gotten a bad rap in relationships. Many of the women in my study said they feared that being nice made them look weak, too pliable and disrespected.

First, let’s look at the benefits for you individually and for you and your intimate partner. Hopefully, when you read the list below, you will change your thinking about being nice from being weak to being caring and savvy.Speak up—yes! But it is both what you say and how you say it that can make the difference between a good and a not-so-good relationship.

Benefits of Niceness

1. Being Nice Sets an Example
Each partner in a relationship has a different style in expressing grievances. Some people are just better at dealing with and expressing their feelings. Get smart—set an example that you can refer to. Wise relationship behavior in tone and words can be instructive to your partner. 

2. Being Happy and Supportive Is Good for Your Health—and Your Partner’s!
A national United States study in Health Psychology found that, amongst almost 2,000 survey participants older than fifty, a happy, supportive and encouraging spouse is a factor in being healthier. The lead author, Dr. William Chopik, said in an article in The New York Times, that surrounding yourself with happy people makes you happier as well—and, clearly, healthier. 

No surprise there! Sex with anger can be scary, dangerous and demeaning. Being nice outside the bedroom–or couch or kitchen floor or wherever you have sex—creates an overall positive mood and assessment of your relationship. 

3. Being Nice Boosts Sexual Desire
Mutual niceness leads to great sexually caring behaviors such as doing things your partner likes or feeling comfortable asking things of your partner. This closeness builds feelings of trust, safety and love—and those feelings increase sexual responsiveness, experimenting with new positions and techniques, and sustaining a just below the surface level of arousal readiness.

4. Being Nice Increases Cooperation in Everyday Activities That Are Not So Pleasant
In general, women complain that men do not do enough household chores. Being nice can create greater cooperation and creative chore responsibility. For example, you might take turns doing each other’s less favorite tasks. Or, surprise your partner by taking care of something that he or she does not like to do.

Now, let’s look at how you can be nice while effective. Here is a list of the top things that the women in my study found to be effective.

Effective Niceness

Create warmth and flexibility and report your unhappy feelings rather than be your feelings. That means no yelling, slamming, swearing and other behaviors that you don’t like your partner to do. To establish an environment of niceness, do the following:

1. Signal the Degree of Importance of the Issue
We don’t like to be blindsided in anything. Think of how aggravated and confused you feel when you get a bill that is wrong. Now imagine the increased anger and defensiveness when your partner accuses you of something or says something without thinking.

An effective technique is to alert your partner with a number to indicate the importance of the issue. So, you could say: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 high, this issue is an 8 ½.”

2. Make Physical Contact
Hold hands, link your arms, rest your hand on your partner’s thigh or any gesture that you tend to use when you want to comfort your partner. Staying in physical contact reduces defensiveness. 

3. Be Willing to Postpone the Talk
If your issue is not too pressing, then let your partner know you can postpone the talk. Be sure, however, to set a specific time and place to talk about it soon.

4. Write in Your Journal
If you are unclear or not ready to talk with your partner, write out your thoughts in a journal. Wait a day or more to re-read your thoughts and to add more thoughts. Reviewing the issue can give you clarity and potentially calm you.

5. Talk Out the Issue With a Trusted and Respected Friend or Relative
Another way to gain clarity is to confide in someone close to you. Be sure you choose someone whom you respect. Don’t just select the people who are always “on your side.”

6. Get Solution-Focused With Your Partner
Don’t just complain—or rehash the issue to death in order to be “right.” The quicker you give up “right- and wrong-ness,” the faster and better you get at a shared solution.

Happy Niceness!


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