It took a lot longer than it probably should have, but the turbulent relationship between Ronnie and Sammi on The Jersey Shore has come to its inevitable end. Finally. The Situation best summarized their relationship when he basically said “I like both of them, but I just don’t them together.” But really…who didn’t see this coming? Well, one person who could have told you it was coming is John Gottman. In his research, Gottman has couples like Ronnie and Sam (okay, perhaps not EXACTLY like them) come into a research lab and discuss a hot button issue in the relationship (e.g., something like one person’s cheating—perhaps in Miami even). The couples inevitably argue, because after all they purposefully pick a touchy subject. Ronnie and Sam are no exception. Vinnie even comments “…you realize they just love to fight with each other...”
The key here is not that they argue…discussing issues in an inevitable part of relationships. Instead, Gottman focuses on HOW the couple discusses things. Are they civil? Or are they nasty, condescending, and disrespectful? Not sure what those look like? Go back and watch practically any episode of the Jersey Shore (Season 2 or 3) and you’ll see Ronnie and Sammi provide a near perfect example of this type of poor communication. It turns out that it isn’t okay to call your partner the “C” word, or to tell your partner “Watch me, cause I'm gonna * on you harder than you ever * on me.” Clearly these quotes made many viewers uncomfortable, but are they just things said in the heat of the moment that ultimately don’t mean much? Uh, no…pretty much the exact opposite of that. When Gottman looked at married couples, those who ended up divorced used disrespectful, mean, or nasty forms of communication over 90% of the time.
Gottman, J. M., Coan, J., Carrere, S., & Swanson, C. (1998). Predicting marital happiness and stability from newlywed interactions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60(1), 5-22.
Dr. Gary Lewandowski - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lewandowski's research explores the role of the self in romantic relationships with a specific focus on self-expansion. He has authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences and is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.