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The Joy of Feeling Known: Relationship Satisfaction Depends More On Feeling Known Than Knowing One’s Partner
Two forms of experienced relationship knowledge—the feeling of being known by one’s partner and the feeling of knowing one’s partner—have separately been shown to positively predict relationship satisfaction, but which is more important for relational wellbeing? Seven studies show that feeling known by one’s partner predicts relationship satisfaction more than feeling that one knows one’s partner. In Studies 1a-c, feeling known better predicted relationship satisfaction than felt knowing among family, romantic partners, and friends. Feeling known also causally influenced expected relationship satisfaction more than felt knowing in Studies 2a-b. Study 3 suggests a potential reason why feeling known is more closely associated with relationship satisfaction – because it is required for a person to feel supported by their relationship partner. Finally, the desire to feel known leads people to present themselves as less appealing to potential partners. In Study 4, when people wrote dating profiles to attract potential romantic partners, they more strongly expressed their desire to be known than to know their potential future partner. Yet, readers of these profiles were more attracted to those who professed interest in knowing them. Overall this research suggests that feeling known is an important ingredient in the recipe for relationship joy.