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Partners are the main source of emotional support
A recent survey has found that most people turn to their partners for emotional support in times of need. Data from Understanding Society, a study of 40,000 UK households, found that nine out of ten people who were married or cohabiting would talk to their partner about their worries when a problem crops up.
In the UK, family members and friends can also provide important sources of positive support, but it seems that men are more inclined to rely primarily on their partner (if they have one) while women are happier to turn also to family and friends. In relation to family members, women were significantly more likely to report having positive support than men. More than three quarters of women said they could talk to family members about their worries compared with only two thirds of men.
Understanding where people receive emotional support from is important, researchers argue, because existing evidence suggests a ‘buffering effect’ of having positive social support in the face of shocks such as divorce, ill-health, bereavement, or losing your job. Having positive and strong social support also appears linked with better psychological and physical health.
Having a confidant or person to share private feelings with is a significant component of social support. The Understanding Society study suggests that men were far more likely to share their feelings with a woman than a man. Less than a quarter of men said they shared their feelings with a man compared with 46% of women. Just 4% of men and 2% of women had no-one at all in whom they could confide.
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