Why you may be well-advised not to count when it comes to love

The more we share, the more we have, also in terms of relationship well-being.

Recent positive psychology research demonstrated and deciphered the benefits of prosocial spending, i.e., spending money on one’s romantic partner.

For 21 days, 76 couples recorded two types of prosocial spending: experiential purchases, i.e. money spent to acquire an experience, for example dining out or going to the movies; and material purchases, i.e. lasting material possessions, for instance necessities like a pen, or luxuries.

To measure what effects prosocial spending had on them, they also completed daily questionnaires on their subjective well-being, relationship quality, and perceived responsiveness (i.e. perceived understanding, validating, and caring of their needs by their partner).

Daily personal and relational well-being was higher on days when either of the partners engaged in prosocial spending. A mediator of this association emerged. Indeed, when an individual engaged in prosocial spending, the partner’s daily well-being was associated with it to the extent that the partner perceived his partner as responsive. Only experiential purchases were associated with both partner’s relational well-being, however, in line with previous findings that in general settings, too, we seem to derive more happiness from experiential purchases than material purchases.

To conclude, spending money on your romantic partner, in particular on food and experiences (but not on luxuries or necessities) will likely benefit your relationship and the happiness of the both of you – provided your partner recognizes and appreciates it as a caring and loving gesture ;)!

Reference: Li, S., Ng, J. C.-K., & Hui, C.-M. (2022). For you and for me: harvesting the benefits of prosocial spending in romantic relationships. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 17(1), 59–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2020.1832244

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