This paper studies the interaction between non-viscous damping and nonlinearities for nonlinear oscillators with reflection symmetry. The non-viscous damping function is an exponential damping model which adds a decaying memory property to the damping term of the oscillator. We consider the case of softening and hardening behaviour in the frequency response of the system. Numerical simulations of the Duffing oscillator show a significant enhancement of the resonance peaks for increasing levels of non-viscous damping parameter in the hardening case, but not in the softening case. This can be explained in the general context by an energy balance analysis of the undamped unforced oscillator, which shows that for hardening nonlinearities the growth of damping with the energy level is an order of magnitude smaller in the exponential case than in the viscous case.