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Study: Women like miserable men

18:00 Fri Mar 16 2012
Simon West, MSN NZ
Study: Women like miserable men
Don't try and cheer her up, mate. She'll be happy knowing you're unhappy. (Thinkstock)

Have you ever wondered why it's so difficult to please your partner? Well, research from Harvard University has found the near-impossible battle stems from a female need for emotional connection in relationships.

Bottom line — women are happiest when their man is unhappy.

Confused? Don’t be. The findings actually make sense in a somewhat warped way.

According to the research, women are far more satisfied in their relationship when their partner shares their negative emotions. Men, however, are quite the opposite. Blokes like their girlfriends to wash away any negatives with positive feelings.

Lead researcher Shiri Cohen believes the findings show females react to empathy and enjoy knowing their partner is on the same page.

"It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times," Cohen said. "This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict."

Examining 156 heterosexual couples from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, Cohen and her crew recorded conversations with each individual partner about the toughest times in their relationship.

The couples were then brought together to view the recordings and rate how they felt on a scale ranging from "very negative" to "very positive" and whether they felt their other half was empathetic.

The results indicated that relationship satisfaction was 100 per cent linked to a man's ability to read his lady's emotions the right way, and women were more likely to enjoy their relationship if their partner was upset.

So, what does this mean for us men?

Cohen concluded that blokes should always try to be empathetic with their partners. Instead of countering a female's negative feelings with a joyous "Don't worry! You'll be fine!" a man should make an effort to sympathise in a gentle and compassionate way.

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