Want to earn more money and lead a healthier life? Have more sex (correlation/causation issues aside). Not that you needed more reasons to have sex on a weekly basis, a recent study of Greek men and women found that those who reported having more sex earned higher salaries and were less likely to suffer from certain health problems. You can read more over at the Huffington Post.
Editors' note: Last week, Dr. Andy Merolla responded to a reader's question about distance in relationships; this week, he gives four tips for maintaining long-distance relationships.
What can you do to improve your long-distance relationship? Research on relational uncertainty, expectations, and long-distance relationships offers us the following ideas.
- Be direct. During periods of heightened uncertainty, it’s important to openly talk about your concerns with your partner.1 In light of your budget and time constraints, you and your partner need to have some frank discussions about the appropriate number and timing of visits in the coming months. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a “magic number,” so the two of you need to determine what makes sense for you. If you aren’t sure, that’s okay.
In a recent article, I discussed my research using fictional scenarios to show that perceptions of why someone is having sex with their partner influences how people rate that person’s sexual desire and satisfaction. In that study, people who were perceived as having sex for approach goals, such as to enhance intimacy or to feel closer to a partner, as opposed to avoidance goals, such as to avoid conflict or a partner’s disappointment, were perceived as feeling more sexual desire for their partner and being more satisfied with their sex lives and relationships. In our next study, we wanted to consider people’s actual goals for sex and how having sex for different reasons is associated with a person’s sexual and relationship quality. So, how do a person’s own reasons for having sex influence their own feelings of desire and satisfaction?
Internet dating received another vote of confidence recently. A study compiled by Harris Interactive showed that the percentage of marital break-ups for couples who met online was 25% lower than for those who met the old-fashioned way, which is a figure that will probably shock many people.
According to the research, 25.7% of responders met their other half on eHarmony.com, making it the most popular dating website for lasting love. The responses, which were taken from a sample of approximately 20,000 people, showed that those who found each other online were more likely to stay together than couples who met through more traditional methods (for details of the research, click here).
Online dating takes work in much the same way as meeting people in real life. It’s not a case of finding the right person straight away – but if the results of this latest research are anything to go by, you’ve got a better chance of finding someone you can stay with long-term, and build a steady and compassionate relationship with which will stand the test of time.
For more on this topic, see Cacioppo, J. T., Cacioppo, S., Gonzaga, G. C., Ogburn, E. L., & Vanderweele, T. J. (2013). Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. Volume 10.
(Editors' Note: This post is sponsored by eHarmony.com)
Take note the next time you are holding hands with someone: Is your hand on top or in front with your palm facing back? In a recent study researchers observed heterosexual couples, adult/child pairs, and older/younger child pairs holding hands in public. Replicating and extending previous research on hand-holding, men in the couple pairs, adults in the adult/child pairs, and older children in the child pairs were more likely to have their hand in front with their palm facing back indicating social dominance, or alternatively, protection. This study shows that something as simple as hand position can signal one’s social role. What role are you signaling?
Pettijohn, T. F., Ahmed, S. F., Dunlap, A. V., & Dickey, L. N. (2013). Who’s got the upper hand? Hand holding behaviors among romantic couples and families. Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues, doi:10.1007/s12144-013-9175-4
In a previous post, we looked at some recent research on the hidden risks of closeness in romantic relationships. It turns out that the closeness that people feel in romantic relationships may not be so beneficial when it doesn’t match the closeness they would ideally like. People who don’t feel close enough to their romantic partners tend to be more depressed, less satisfied with their relationships, and less committed to their partners, and they, not surprisingly, think about breaking up more often.1 And guess what? The same is true of people who feel too close to their romantic partners. These findings raise questions about what couples can do when the closeness one or both partner's desire is different from the closeness they actually feel.
According to a recent piece on the Smithsonian website, although "women and men spend the same amount of time worrying about family matters, women feel a disproportional amount negative emotional affects-- stress, depression, and the like-- from this mental labor." Read the complete article on smithsonianmag.com here.
Q: A lot of research has been done on long distance relationships, and internet articles abound with advice for those couples. However, what about couples who aren't quite long distance, but certainly aren't geographically close? My partner of over a year and I are navigating this sort of relationship right now (as college students on a budget), where we either live 50 to 90 minutes apart by car, depending on whether school is in session or not. As committed as we are, and as excited as we are, it's not always easy to know how to handle this sort of "middle distance" relationship. Is there any research on this? Thanks!
A: As you might have read about in the research you’ve done, long-distance relationships are full of contradictions.1 For every drawback of long-distance relating—the boring commutes, lonely Friday nights, uncertainty about the timing of the next visit—there seems to be a silver lining. Take, for instance, research suggesting partners can learn to communicate better by seeing each other less.1 Or, consider recent research showing partners can benefit from missing one another.2
Would you have sex with a robot? If your partner did, would you consider it to be cheating? According to this article on Smithsonianmag.com, 9% of people would shag a cyborg, and 42% say that robot sex counts as cheating.
Check our our articles on what counts as cheating here and here. Sadly, we don't have any articles about having sex with robots to share with you; the closest we could find is this post by SofR contributor Dr. Justin Lehmiller on his excellent site.
HBO's PR folks contacted us and asked us if we thought our readers would have interest in HBO's upcoming documentary Americans in Bed. It is a film that follows a cross-section of ages, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientation as they disclose their thoughts about passion, fidelity, family obligations, separation, conflict, illness, and intimate details about how they met and fell in love.
It debuts on MONDAY, AUGUST 12 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT).
Sex plays an important role in overall relationship happiness.1 But, is simply having sex enough to maintain a happy relationship? In a recent study, my colleagues and I looked at the reasons people say they have sex with their partners and how these reasons affect their feelings of desire and happiness with their sex lives and overall relationships.2
We considered two broad categories of reasons why people have sex with their romantic partners:
- Approach goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on pursuing positive outcomes in their relationship, such as enhancing intimacy or feeling closer to a partner.
- Avoidance goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on averting negative outcomes in their relationship, such as conflict or disappointing a partner.
We consider ourselves fairly open minded around here when it comes to sex. We've even run an article about how rat's sexual behaviors suggest sex can make you smarter. But we have to admit that considering how dinosaurs had sex was expanding our horizons. Apparently the folks over at NPR are even more open minded than we are. If you're interested in how dinosaurs did it, check out The Subtle Mysteries of Dinosaur Sex by Robert Krulwich.
It is often easy to see how your job influences your relationship. If you work long hours, you have less time to spend with your partner. If you have a particularly hectic or demanding workweek, your work stress can easily spill over into your relationship.1 However, chances are you pay less attention to how your relationship influences your job. If you do in fact “take your relationship to work” with you by letting your personal life influence your job, this may have important implications for your career success. It’s also possible that your relationship doesn’t directly undermine you at your job, but rather negative relationship experiences could harm you emotionally or undermine your physical health, which then compromise your job.
If you're not careful, passive reading of all the press on the college "hook-up" culture would lead you to believe that college campuses are just big orgies. In fact, SofR's Tim Loving recently surveyed a group of 60 students and asked them how many sexual partners they think typical college students rack up during college, and the overwhelming majority assumed it was on the order of 5-10 partners! Who has time for studying?
When is the right time to get married? My boyfriend and I are currently in college and have been dating for 3 years. He talks about getting married and starting a life, but when is it too soon? Don't get me wrong, I love him and it's not that I don't want to be with him, but our career paths couldn't be more different, and in order for us to be together we would have to move, meaning one of us would have to give up everything (most likely me). He wants to become a physicist and has to attend many more years of schooling, while I'm going to graduate with a B.A in AD/PR. Either we get married and he'll be in school studying, or we wait until he gets his Ph.D. and is settled down.
Making a big life decision like this is not easy, and I am happy to see that you are looking at this practically rather than just romantically. When trying to decide when the “right” time is to get married, it might be useful to first consider what risk factors there are for divorce. Researchers have identified a number of socio-demographic factors associated with divorce that have remained stable over time, such as marrying too young, co-habitation before marriage, not having a religious affiliation, living in an urban area, and growing up in a household where there were not two continuously married parents.1 Other marital stressors also play an important role in predicting divorce, such as financial strains and career demands.
Last time, I talked about how to predict the future success of your relationship armed with nothing but your smartphone. Today, I’ve turned the findings I discussed, like the link between certain text messaging habits and relationship satisfaction, into a quick online quiz. This quiz will give you some perspective on how your relationship is doing. Why not bring the science-talk to life, right?
If you're in a relationship you can take the quiz. Go on, you know you want to know! If you aren't seeing anybody at the moment, consider sending this along to a friend or colleague who is. We'll update you later about the results!
Editors' note: This quiz is part of an informal project on great relationships conducted by contributor Melissa Schneider, LMSW, and is not supervised or conducted by ScienceOfRelationships.com, other contributors, or the academic institutions affliliated with other contributors.