Relationship Advice: Here's the Problem With Couples Who Always Refer to Themselves as “We” -

Relationship Advice: Here’s the Problem With Couples Who Always Refer to Themselves as “We”

 Relationship Advice: Here's the Problem With Couples Who Always Refer to Themselves as “We”

When friends find love, in the foggy bliss of their newly coupled life they become susceptible to a few suspect behaviors. Sometimes, they turn flaky and distant, that is until their partner goes out of town, or they blow up your phone for a weekend after a fight—only to ghost again once they’re back with their boo. Worse yet, they’ll still show up to things, but it’s never just them—the S.O. is always in tow.

One of the earliest and most insidious signs of “couple creep,” if you will, is the pronoun shift. Out of nowhere, your friend, formerly an individual with their own set of beliefs, aspirations, and annoying habits, suddenly becomes a “we” person. Maybe this has happened to you. It’s understandable: That haze of good texting and consistent sex is powerful, but you should be cautious about the first-person plural.

You might not notice it at first, but once it hits you, it’s impossible to ignore. “We can’t make it.” “We’re doing sober October, see you in a month.” “Yeah, we saw Normal People. We thought it was hot but not really that political.” You might have a few questions, such as, Who the hell is “we”?! 

There is some logic, of course, to why the “we speak” happens. Grammar-wise, pronouns function to save time and avoid repetition. Having to start every sentence with “Sarah and I” til death (or breakup) do you part would be really tiresome. And if you really are spending most of your time with your partner—making joint decisions, building a life together, watching the same shows—then the “we” is a fitting reflection of the unit you’ve become.

Early on in a relationship, the “we” instinct can actually be a good sign, according to relationship coach and researcher Marisa T. Cohen. “It shows that each person is thinking about the other and expanding his or her own social circle to take the person into account for a joint experience,” she explains. As the relationship progresses, saying “we” could be a way of “doing the kind thing and taking what you perceive to be your partner’s interest to heart and communicating it to another person,” she says.

But if one person in the relationship adopts the plural pronoun to speak on the other’s behalf, shutting down their ideas or suggestions and prioritizing their own, “it suggests maybe codependency or a problematic relationship, where the person being spoken for might acquiesce to the will of the other person,” Cohen says. If your friend’s new partner is all of a sudden answering for them, “Oh, we’re busy,” that could be a red flag. 

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