Are Your Friends More Fun Than Your Partner?
Science says there's a reason you might think they are.
If you look forward to hanging out with your friends more than your spouse and kids, don't feel too bad, you're not alone.
Most people find hanging out with friends more fun.
A study conducted by Southern Methodist University took more than 400 participants and asked them to think back on their experiences.
When asked to reflect on activities they did with different people and rate how they felt doing them, something interesting surfaced.
People reported feelings of well-being more often from being with their friends than with their partners and children.
But the interesting part of the study wasn't that people reported having a better time with their friends.
It was why they said it.
It appears the happiness from doing enjoyable activities with friends vs. family wasn't the issue.
People had lots of fun with both.
But what did skew the results was that people also did unfun activities with family members, which watered down the happiness factor.
So what this means is that we don't feel less happy with our spouse or kids. We just do more of the things that aren't super fun, like housework and trips to the dentist with them.
It might feel like we have more fun with our friends, but in fact, we just have less non-fun with them.
When we meet up with friends, we usually get together to do something fun and nothing else.
When we're with our spouse and children, we're going about the business of daily life.
This generally involves chores related to raising a family and running a household. It's those un-fun activities that can water down our perception of the fun factor.
So it's more about the activities you're not doing with your friends than the individuals themselves.
This is probably why people can get disillusioned at some point in a relationship and start thinking life would be better with someone new.
The other person seems better because you haven't lived an actual life with them yet.
There's been no real-life to interfere with the fun.
Someone pursuing an affair thinks the new person gives them more pleasure. But that's just the illusion that not really "being together" creates.
Once they get together properly, those un-fun activities will start to pile up and depreciate the fun factor in that relationship as well.
So what leads people to think that spending time with friends is better than being with family can also cause affairs. It's this illusion there's something wrong with their relationship because the fun gets watered down by life.
This is probably why some people have problems staying in long-term relationships.
If you expect your partner to have that new relationship shine forever, you're going to be disappointed every time. You can't prevent life from happening, no matter how hard you try.
So injecting friendships into the mix can definitely give you a little relief when things get intense.
They can up the fun factor. There's nothing wrong with that.
But thinking that your friendships are offering you something your spouse isn't is just plain wrong.
Your friends aren't offering you anything that your family isn't. The reality is you're just not doing laundry with those people or changing their diapers.
If you were all living together, particularly if you're raising a family, it would be very different.
So before you get too disillusioned with your relationship, try to remember the magic might not be gone. It might just be watered down.
If that's the case, maybe try a little harder to find time to enjoy your spouse and kids so you can build up good times to balance out the daily grind.
And if you think your marriage is stale because you've been together a while or had kids, think again.
That grass that seems so green in someone else's yard will still succumb to the same maintenance problems as the grass you have now if you stay in that yard long enough.
Even if you leave your spouse for someone new, that new car smell doesn't last in any relationship.
So eventually, you'll be back to where you were in your last relationship, just with new players.
Life will happen no matter who you're living it with.