With Jonathan Bradshaw taking his annual break from delivering the weekly ‘Meetology® Minute’ vlogs, we are delighted to share the first post from our guest blogger Ruari Fangman. We met Ruari through our partnership with the University of the West of England from where, under the tutorship of our lead psychologist (and Senior Lecturer at UWE) Dr Paul Redford, Ruari has recently graduated with a Msc in Occupational Psychology. You can find more our about what Ruari has been up to post-graduation here: Ruari Fangman
Whilst I suspect that the majority of you would agree that your people skills have a significant impact on most parts of your lives, one of the areas where they can make the biggest impact is within your romantic relationships. Meeting that person who you fall head-over-heels for can transform your life and potentially change the long-term trajectory of your future experiences and life outcomes to an almost terrifying degree.
Although not universal, I think most people agree that, if they’re single, then finding their “other half” is certainly something that they wouldn’t say no to, but what impact can having exceptional people skills have on the chances of finding someone and equally, to the quality of the relationship that’s subsequently formed?
Researchers from the University of California (1) recruited 66 dating and 65 married couples and asked them to complete a series of questionnaires that examined their social skills and levels of relationship satisfaction. The results indicated that, generally, the participants’ social skills were related to their own and their partner’s relationship satisfaction, furthermore the skill of offering emotional support was especially salient in determining their own relationship satisfaction. In general the findings were pretty clear, those that have better interpersonal skills, in general experience more satisfaction within their relationships.
In March 2017, researchers at the University of Virginia published a paper (1) that examined 302 young adults (aged 18-24) who filled out anonymous online questionnaires relating to self-regulation, parenting practices, and interpersonal competence with same-sex peers and romantic partners. They found that those that scored highly on social skills like emotional regulation were associated with having more long-term relationships. Those that were also in long-term relationships also were likely to have more friends, which indicates the importance of social and interpersonal skills in the dating & relationship world.
In another recent study published by the American Psychological Association in January 2017 (1), researchers compiled a number of papers investigating the impact that emotional suppression and expression has on life outcomes, including the quality of social and romantic relationships. The researchers have used the term “emotional suppression” to cover any time that you might try to regulate or hide your emotions so that others can’t recognise them, and social outcomes as unacquainted liking (rapport / first impressions), acquainted liking, social satisfaction (including quality of social relationships), social support (friends, family, significant other), and romantic relationship quality.
They found that emotional suppression has a negative impact on all social outcomes, ranging from first impressions, all the way through to long-term romantic relationships. It’s worth bearing in mind that this study takes into account 43 individual studies to come to this result, so it’s pretty likely, that at least to some degree, emotional suppression can have a negative effect on your interpersonal relationships.
From the above studies it’s evident that there’s psychological scientific evidence that shows the benefits of having exceptional interpersonal skills within the dating arena. Perhaps instead of going to a dating coach and reading self-help books, a more effective way of increasing your dating potency might be to spend some time working on your people skills?
(1) – References can be found in the references tab
References and other relevant studies:
Chervonsky, E. & Hunt, C. 2017, “Suppression and Expression of Emotion in Social and Interpersonal Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis”, Emotion, .
Flora, J. & Segrin, C. 1999, “Social skills are associated with satisfaction in close relationships”, Psychological Reports, vol. 84, no. 3, pp. 803-804.
Moilanen, KL; Manuel, ML. Parenting, self-regulation and social competence with peers and romantic partners. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Netherlands, 49, 46-54, Mar. 2017. ISSN: 0193-3973.
Paulk, A.L., Pittman, J., Kerpelman, J. & Adler-Baeder, F. 2011, “Associations between dimensions of security in romantic relationships and interpersonal competence among dating and non-dating high school adolescents”, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1027-1047.