I recently received a job offer that I am truly excited about. Naturally, the first person I wanted to share this news with was my partner. However, when I shared my excitement with him, I didn’t receive the enthusiastic response I was hoping for. It left me wondering why my excitement didn’t seem to be contagious to him.

All the best,

Dear Unsupported Partner,

It’s understandable that you were eager to share your excitement about your new job offer with your partner, and I’m sorry to hear that his response didn’t match your enthusiasm. I want to share with you what relationship researchers may attribute his lackluster response to.

Relationship researchers refer to the act of sharing a positive event with someone and receiving support as “capitalization.” Capitalization has been found to be hugely beneficial to relationships, boosting well-being, mood, and self-esteem, as well as increasing relationship satisfaction, trust, and acceptance (Gable et al., 2004; Reis et al., 2010). To reap the benefits of capitalization, it must be active-constructive, meaning that the response is enthusiastic and engaged in what one’s partner has to say (recent research has shown benefits to passive-constructive support as well). Relationship researchers have found that social anxiety and attachment avoidance may impact one’s ability to receive and share active-constructive support.

Kashden et al. (2013) found that greater social anxiety was associated with decreased reception and provision of supportive responses to shared positive events, as measured by trait questionnaires, partner reports, and behavioral observations in the laboratory. The behavioral observations in the lab found that socially anxious individuals were “unenthusiastic” and “non-expressive” of positive emotions, showing the exact opposite of active-constructive support. Social anxiety reduces people’s abilities to appreciate positive news due to a negative interpretation bias that dominates social anxiety theories. Socially anxious people are less sensitive to positive social information and are more likely to interpret ambiguous social events as negative (Kashden et al., 2013).

Additionally, Gosnell and Gable (2013) found in a 10-day diary study of romantic couples that attachment avoidance was associated with reduced perceptions of partner capitalization efforts and less responsiveness, especially if their disclosing partner was anxiously attached. This study indicates that if you are someone who enjoys emotional distance, you may be uninterested when someone shares a positive event with you.

I want to add that you are not alone in your feelings of lacking active-constructive support. Gosnell and Descano (2023) found that in a study of over 200 participants during the pandemic, people reported receiving significantly less active-constructive capitalization compared to pre-pandemic times. Given the significant benefits of active-constructive capitalization, I hope for more research on how to foster it in individuals who have social anxiety or are avoidantly attached. In the meantime, I hope you find solace in celebrating your achievements and accomplishments, even if the response from your partner may not have met your expectations.

To positively capitalizing on love, 


  • Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 228–245. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.228
  • Gosnell, C. L., & Dascano, K. (2023). Effects of the coronavirus pandemic on perceived capitalization support provision and receipt. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 17(9). https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12824
  • Gosnell, C. L., & Gable, S. L. (2013). Attachment and capitalizing on positive events. Attachment & Human Development, 15(3), 281–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2013.782655
  • Kashdan, T. B., Ferssizidis, P., Farmer, A. S., Adams, L. M., & McKnight, P. E. (2013). Failure to capitalize on sharing good news with romantic partners: Exploring positivity deficits of socially anxious people with self-reports, partner-reports, and behavioral observations. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51(10), 656–668. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2013.04.006
  • Reis, H. T., Smith, S. M., Carmichael, C. L., Caprariello, P. A., Tsai, F., Rodrigues, A. E., & Maniaci, M. R. (2010). Are you happy for me? How sharing positive events with others provides personal and interpersonal benefits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(2), 311–329. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018344

3 Replies to “Capitalizing on Love: Exploring the Impacts of Anxiety and Avoidance on Positive Capitalization 

  1. I really liked your blog post Paige. This blog post and the research it discusses touch on a common but often unspoken issue in relationships: the expectation of shared excitement and the disappointment when it’s not met. I loved your inclusion of the role of social anxiety and attachment styles in shaping our reactions. Even though I know this, I would still feel bad if somebody I know (who is avoidant) reacted to my good news in a subdued manner! This just speaks to the power of active-constructive support.

  2. I really liked the format of your blog – it was very easy to read and also very interesting! I wondered about the influence of attachment style on perceived support and this was a really helpful breakdown. Relating this research to our previous conversations about avoidant individuals specifically, could a very high amount of support break this barrier in the same way that high amounts of practical support do? If you have this kind of attachment style, how much you work on this behavior with your partner so they are receiving the amount of support they need?

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post, Paige, and getting to learn more about individual differences that contribute to capitalization support type. Like you mentioned at the end, I would like to know more about how to grow one’s tendency to provide active-constructive support. But I’d also be interested to see if people with social anxiety may be able to show their support in a different way of some sort. Applying the findings from Gosnell & Dascano (2023), would it be possible that these indivdiuals could provide passive-constructive support, which the researchers found to provide some benefit to receivers?

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