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IMs reveal your relationship’s health

A new research has shown that women who use the pronoun "I" in their Instant Message conversations were more satisfied with their partners, according to a study by Live Science.

sex and relationships Updated: Jan 26, 2009 17:02 IST

The instant messaging sessions with your beloved could say more than what you think, suggest researchers, who claim that the words send across cyberspace indicate the health of a relationship.

A new research has shown that women who use the pronoun "I" in their IM conversations were more satisfied with their partners, according to Live Science.

Men were also more satisfied in their relationships when the women used "I."

The study has been published last month in the journal Personal Relationships.

"Instant messages are a great way to get at how people communicate in the real world," said lead study researcher Richard Slatcher of UCLA.

To reach the conclusion, Slatcher and his colleagues analyzed 10 days of instant-message conversations from nearly 70 U.S. couples who had been dating for about one and a half years and had an average age of 19.

In the study, volunteers also answered questions about relationship satisfaction. Six months later, the couples indicated whether they were still dating. After six months, about 60 percent of couples were still dating while the others had broken up.

In a bid to find answers, researchers read through the conversations, noting the context of the IM threads. Then, they used a linguistic word count program to analyze the conversations'' pronouns and words with emotional content.

Among pronouns in IMs, couples used "I" nearly 20 times more frequently than "we." And of the emotion words, all couples were most likely to use positive words.

"We found that the extent to which people used positive emotion words like "great," "happy," "love," tended to be happier in their relationships and to stay in their relationships for a longer period of time," Slatcher said.

Women who IMed with lots of "I''s" were 30 percent more likely to stay in their relationships compared with other women.
The "I"-laden instant messages could indicate women were talking about themselves and were comfortable doing so with their partners, Slatcher said.

"Women tend to be more emotionally expressive in general and tend to be more disclosing in general. So this finding suggests that beyond women wanting to disclose more and disclosing more in their everyday life, that when they do disclose more in their relationships, they''re happier in those relationships,” the expert added.

He added, "An alternative explanation might be that you are not so enmeshed in your relationship that you have lost yourself completely.”

First Published: Jan 26, 2009 16:41 IST