We’re all likely familiar with the idea that love is energizing; for example, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes encapsulated this notion in their 1982 single Up Where We Belong when they sang, “Love lifts us up where we belong....” But does love really physically energize us? It’s definitely possible. Love is associated with positive emotions and simply thinking about love can trigger stress responses (such as increases in cortisol) in the body, responses thought to result from arousal or passion. One intriguing thing that can happen when your body releases cortisol is that you get an accompanying rush of glucose (blood sugar) to give you extra energy. Since thinking about your romantic partner can increase stress hormones like cortisol, it may follow that you can also get a glucose boost from thinking about your partner.
A few years back, on the heels of Kim Kardashian’s ill-fated and short-lived marriage to Kris Humpries, I wrote a post about how their attraction and marriage may be the result of what psychologists refer to as implicit egotism. Essentially, this theory states that people have relatively positive feelings about themselves and that these unconscious preferences extend to things that are associated with the self, like our own name-letter initials. Think about it. Do you have a favorite letter? Is that letter one of your own initials? Well, if it is, you are not alone. Where it gets even more interesting is that this preference may impact a whole array of choices, including who you marry.1 In Kim Kardashian’s case, she may have gravitated towards Kris Humpries, because they both shared the initial K. On an implicit level, this may have activated positive and rewarding feelings. Well, that relationship has come and gone, but in true implicit egotism fashion, Kim has since moved on to marry Kanye, with whom she also shares the initial K!
Few people would be surprised to hear that couples in troubled relationships can also be depressed -- certainly not those of us who've been in such relationships and know how depressing they can be.
Frequently, the conflict in these relationships and distress that results can become so overwhelming that any other problems, like depression, are typically hidden from view. A couple I'm presently treating, Jim and Stacey (not they’re real names), are engrained in an attack-withdrawal routine (i.e., she criticizes him and then he avoids her and doesn't talk to her for days). This pattern is common in troubled relationships, but their hostility deftly masks, to all but the trained eye, depression’s underlying influence.
But does it really matter if one partner is depressed -- especially when couples like this are constantly at each other's throats? Yes, it does. To understand why, let's look at some research on the effects of depression on partners within troubled relationships.
Are you a sexual person? (This is not a trick question.) Let me ask it a different way: What kind of sexual person are you? Or, put another way, why do you enjoy sex?
A recently published paper1 including data from 18 different samples (from Israel and America) suggests that there is a lot of variability in how people experience sex based on something called the “sexual behavioral system.” Basically, this is the system that your mind constructs so that you can navigate sexual feelings, attitudes, and experiences. The overall result of the study was that 2 new personality variables emerged, which can help explain how the sexual behavioral system operates.
Dear Miley, you’re doing it wrong. No, I’m obviously not referring to the music world, as you seem to have that figured out. I’m not even referring to the physical act of writhing around on a metal wrecking ball, although that does bring up some hygienic concerns. Rather, as a relationship scientist, I’m referring to your love life. The lyrics of your song, Wrecking Ball, have been rolling around my head since you released it last year. And now, after almost a full year of marriage, I think I know where you went wrong. The trouble lies in your demolition-style approach.
There’s no question that romantic breakups can be really hard. Losing a partner we’ve become very close to means losing someone who was previously part of our daily lives. As a result, breakups can undermine our ability to sleep and eat well (among other things). Research has revealed that experiencing a breakup has several unique effects on our sense of self or self-concept (i.e., everything that makes us who we are) as well. For example, research has demonstrated that, after a breakup, people feel that their self-concept is smaller than it was before the breakup; in other words, they feel like their self-concept has diminished somewhat.1 This makes sense, since over time people tend to incorporate their romantic partner into their self-concept, meaning that their individual identities begin to merge (that is, “me” and “you” becomes “we” and “us”). In the wake of a breakup, then, the self-concept may feel reduced or contracted because there used to be another person involved in it (e.g., part of “me” used to include being a loving partner to a specific person, and now that part is gone).
It's time for a snack and you're wondering what to eat, preferably something healthy as you're trying to stay fit. There may be a simple solution; research demonstrates that the simple act of looking at a friendship-based love symbol, such as a heart, can sway your appetite toward a healthy craving (e.g. an apple). Whereas looking at a sexual-based love symbol, such as a picture of a kiss mark, could lead you to giving into the Snickers bar you’ve been thinking about. As such, it may be wise to surround yourself with some heart pictures to help curb your appetite!
Raska, D., & Nichols, B. S. (2012). Using subtle reminders of love to foster healthy snack choices. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 11(6), 432-442. doi:10.1002/cb.1381
Lauren Acri is a student at Monmouth University and a Psychology major.
She is currently a research assistant in the Gender Development Laboratory investigating the role gender plays in early childhood.
Think about the last time your friend or romantic partner did something nice for you. Now think about that other person’s motivations: Do you think s/he did it for you out of care for you or out of obligation? We asked people this question in two studies; across both studies, people who were more avoidantly attached—that is, people who were more uncomfortable depending on and opening up to others—were more likely to think that their friends or romantic partners did things for them because they felt like they had to, not because they wanted to.1 These perceptions may help avoidant people keep their partners at arm’s length and protect avoidant people from depending on or opening up to their partners. After all, if someone does something for you because they feel like they have to—not because they truly want to—you might assume they don’t really care about you anyway, so why should you depend on them in the future?
So I have a confession to make, and you have to promise not to judge me.
I am totally “fangirling” over the current Bachelorette Andi Dorfman. There is something remarkable about her, and whatever it is is generating some polarizing opinions.
Oh, and did I mention that Andi was an assistant district attorney before she resigned to do the show? What more could you ask for in a lead role!
If Andi is so great, why is she provoking such mixed reactions?
With summer upon us, many women will go to the mall to revamp their closet with this year’s latest trends. After all, how are you going to get the attention of your cute neighbor if you’re wearing the same boring clothes you wore last year? Let’s be honest: you’re not. But with a less-than-stellar economy, more women are cutting back on their wardrobe allowance and are instead opting to purchase only a few ‘I can’t live without you’ pieces. So ladies, how do you decide whether to replace your old shorts with the forever-sexy daisy dukes or the back in style, more modest high-waisted shorts?
In the 36th installment of Relationship Matters, the podcast of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships produced by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Claudia Brumbaugh (Queens College, City University of New York) discusses her recent research on rebound relationships.
Typically, people define a rebound relationship as a relationship that is initiated shortly after a breakup, before the individual has fully ‘gotten over’ the prior relationship.
Dr. Brumbaugh and her collaborator, Dr. Chris Fraley (University of Illinois), conducted two studies of people who had recently gone through a break up. Specifically, they looked at how people were doing post-breakup, how they felt about their ex-partners, and whether or not they were seeing someone new.
Though many assume that rebound relationships are a bad idea, participants in rebound relationships felt more confident about their desirability as a partner and showed signs of letting go of any feelings they had for their ex-partners.
You likely heard this song at some point in your childhood (though likely with different names, depending on who was being teased that day): “John and Jane sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage.” These types of songs reflect the social pressure couples experience as their relationships develop. Even if society doesn’t assume that babies naturally come after marriage, a couple’s family members may drop some not-so-subtle hints about their desire for a new baby in the family. For many, getting married, starting a family, and having children isn’t a choice, but rather the default option, or more simply put, “just what people do”1 But what about couples who make the conscious decision to not have children? Given the various pressures and expectations that conspire to encourage procreation, opting out of parenthood is a big decision for relationship partners to make.
Consuming alcohol can both benefit and harm romantic relationships. For example, drinking can be a way for couple members to connect—perhaps over a bottle of wine—and share their week. However, if someone believes their partner drinks too much, it can strain the relationship. Some recent research1 explored how perceiving one’s partner as having a drinking problem might be associated with relationship quality among college students. In addition, the researchers examined the use of drinking regulation strategies, or the behaviors that people use to try to change their partner’s drinking (such as yelling or withdrawing).