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Tag, We’re It: How Facebook Reveals Information about Current (and Past) Relationships

You know those people on Facebook who tag their romantic partners in every…single…post? Or how about the people whose uploaded photos almost always contain their partners? If you’re anything like me, you may find it somewhat annoying, but these kinds of behaviors convey important information about couples’ relationships.

Previously, we have discussed how romantic partners’ senses of self gradually begin merging together and overlap with one another. In other words, we begin to take on some of our romantic partner’s aspects into our sense of who we are (e.g., you may find that you have picked up interests or hobbies that your partner introduced you to), and we begin to talk more in terms of “us” and “we” than “me” and “him/her”. In a recent study, researchers surveyed 276 individuals (mostly college students) about various aspects of their romantic relationships, including the degree of self-partner overlap and the content of their Facebook profiles.

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Leaving an Abusive Relationship is Better than Expected

Research recently published by our friend and colleague Dr. Ximena Arriaga shows that people in abusive relationships underestimate the degree to which they will be better off after leaving those toxic relationships. Read more about her research here.

Check out our past article on this topic here.


Everyone Needs an Enemy

February has come and gone, and, fortunately (for some), the Valentine’s Day craze has left with it. Leading up to and throughout the month, contributors at Science of Relationships worked overtime to bring you as much research as possible about the day of love (click here for a thorough recap). With all of the hullabaloo, I think I fell into a state Valentine’s Day fatigue; quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about love!

Instead of love, what about hate? Instead of parents, close friends, and romantic partners, what about enemies? Batman had the Joker; Harry Potter had Voldemort; Austin Powers had Dr. Evil; Jennifer Aniston has Angelina Jolie. What about non-superheroes/celebrities, you ask? Don’t regular people have enemies, too? (for the record, Science of Relationships doesn’t have any enemies. We’re lovers, not fighters.) And, if so, what functions do enemies serve, and are there benefits to having a mortal nemesis?

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Insecure Attachment and Real vs. Perceived Threat in Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast #19

Sage’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, launches the Spring 2013 season with the 19th installment, discussing Dr. Geoff MacDonald’s (University of Toronto) recent work published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this episode, he tells us about how insecurely attached individuals, compared to the securely attached, perceive potential close relationships as socially threatening vs. rewarding. Although we all evaluate what we will get out of our interactions with others, anxiously attached people are more likely to perceive social interactions as threatening. “Anxious attachment seems to revolve around concerns for negative evaluation and rejection,” MacDonald notes during the podcast.

So should anxiously attached individuals fear rejection when initiating a new relationship?

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Too Much, Too Soon

I took a weekend ski trip recently with The Consultant. We had great day of skiing, fantastic Bloody Marys with lunch, and enjoyed a much needed break from work and kids. Over an après ski beer at the base of the mountain, some locals told us that there was an outdoor, natural hot spring close by. That sounded like a perfect way to soothe our tired muscles, so we promptly made our way over for a little tub time.

At check-in, we were informed that clothing was optional in the springs. It was dark outside, and there were not too many people there to potentially gawk at us in our birthday suits, so The Consultant and I were comfortable with that. While most other the other guests at the hot spring were naked, there was one woman sitting at the edge of the pool who was considerably more self-conscious in a 1-piece bathing suit.  

A few minutes into our soak, a naked man swam over to the single, clothed woman. After some small talk, he immediately launched into a long, dramatic story about his ex-wife. From what we could gather, this guy’s ex-wife tried to take his kid’s birth certificates and sell them to some Mexican outlaws, she racked up huge amounts of debt using his identity, and then tried to break up every new relationship he started, such as texting him when she knew he was on dates. He was rambling on so much that he was oblivious to the fact that the woman he was trying to impress was slowly inching away from him.

Naturally, I thought to myself, “Whoa, dude, too much information!”

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Things You Might Say About Your Computer (but NOT Your Girlfriend)



Week(s) in Review: 17-30 March 2013


All I Didn’t Want To Know About Relationships, I Learned From the Jersey Shore

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a by-gone era. A time when we could turn on our televisions and get a weekly dose of Snooki, JWow, Pauly D, the Situation and the rest of the Jersey Shore gang. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not nostalgic for their dating debauchery but rather reflective on the impact that it has had on our society. Thinking back, I’ve come to the conclusion that all I didn’t want to know about relationships, I learned from the Jersey Shore.

Although I could easily be referring to the urban dictionary definition of a “grenade” or the meaning of GTB (gym, tan, break-up with Paula) or DTF (which I will not translate), I’m actually referring to how MTV’s Jersey Shore was a truly ingenious demonstration of social psychology principles. Unfortunately, it’s possible that we may all be worse off for having shared in their sexually-permissive hijinks. Here’s why...

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Another Reason to Love the Golden Girls


Firewood, Rice, and Fairy Tales: Ideas about Love in the US and China

“Marriage is mostly just firewood, rice, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea.” -Chinese proverb 

Although China’s rising ‘love culture’ has borrowed many foreign ideas, such as teen dating and Valentine’s Day (see my last article), China’s romantic relationships hardly mirror Western ones. Young Chinese are usually free to choose their spouses, but they are not free to linger long in singlehood. If a woman hits her late 20s without a husband, everyone calls her a shèngnǚ (剩女) or “leftover woman” — a label invented by the government in 2007. Faced with mounting social pressure from parents and colleagues, today’s Chinese singles commonly marry because it is “time,” not because they are in love. 

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What's Wrong With My Internet Dating Profile?

I just read about DateSim.netTM, a service that is co-founded by Dr. Jennifer Harman that uses dating  simulations to give objective feedback on dating skills. I think it sounds like a great idea, but the $500 fee is outside of my budget.

How about reviewing existing profiles on a dating website and giving suggestions? I've been on the same dating site for 4 years and have only been contacted 3 times - twice by obvious scammers and once by someone whose picture alone scared me to death, not to mention his inability to write a complete sentence. I remain on that website because it's free. (I know, I know.)

Maybe I should mention I'm 55 yrs old, divorced 12 years after a 24 yr marriage, and have yet to have a first date. I'm not a ravishing beauty but I don't scare dogs or small children. I'm 5' 6" 140 lbs, so I'm not bigger than most women my age. I'm self-sufficient and own my own home. It seems that the men in my age group, 50-65, are looking for young sexy starlets. Does a woman my age have any chance at all of having a date?

Great question. The way we present ourselves on the dating market, particularly on-line dating services like and Plenty of Fish, is tricky business. These on-line sites are not technically matchmaking services...they are essentially tools that you can use to market yourself to show how desirable you are.  

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Infographic: 7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship


The *4 Pics 1 Word* App is Also Pretty Smart

I was playing 4 Pics 1 Word the other day and this came up. It's a very smart app!

Check it out via iTunes or Google Play.



Does Sexual Narcissism Lead to a Better Sex Life?

If I asked you to list the qualities that make for a good sexual partner, what would you say? Maybe you would want a lover who focuses on your sexual needs, someone who understands your feelings, or perhaps a lover who is sexually skilled and confident in his or her abilities. These different ideas about what makes a good sexual partner suggest that narcissism could either be linked to greater sexual satisfaction (a lover who is confident in his or her sexual skills) or a lower quality sex life (a selfish lover).

In previous posts (see here, here, and here), we have discussed why narcissists tend to be poor romantic partners (they are self-absorbed, low in empathy and more likely to cheat on their partners), but what about the sex lives of narcissistic people?

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Can Your Computer Play Cupid?

PlentyofFish. OkCupid. eHarmony. These are just a handful of dating websites that offer users the opportunity to seek out romantic partners and, if lucky, develop a fulfilling, committed relationship. Such dating sites promise access to a large selection of potential partners, the ability to communicate virtually with other users prior to meeting face-to-face, and (allegedly) rigorous matching with compatible potential partners. It is unclear, however, whether meeting partners online yields more positive romantic outcomes1 than do more traditional avenues (e.g., meeting a relationship partner through friends or by chance encounter). Should you leave it to your computer to play matchmaker, or are you better to stay offline and wait for Cupid’s arrow to strike?

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Can She Fall In Love With Me Again?

I'm currently in a long-term relationship where, after a difficult year of dealing with depression, my partner has claimed to have fallen "out" of love. However, she tells me that she is committed to trying to make things work. Is this feeling really something that can be regained over time? Or is now a point where one has to make the decision to love the person they're with?

Thank you for your question. Your experience is not uncommon, and the answer lies in a number of articles about love that have previously appeared on Science of Relationships (e.g., My partner has been less affectionate lately, what gives?). Love is defined in so many different ways—it sounds as if your partner does love you, just not in the way that she used to.

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Sometimes The Irish Don't Have Good Luck


Week(s) in Review: 3-16 March 2013


"Wanna Go to Bed With Me?" (a.k.a. "Get Away from Me, Creep" vs. "Where Do I Sign Up?")

What if you were sitting at a café, the park, or a beer garden (the latter being where you’re most likely to find me) and someone you’ve never met before approached you. Doesn’t seem too bad at this point, right? Now, what if this stranger then attempted to solicit casual sex from you? What would you say?

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Wife of Pi

Happy "Pi Day" to everyone! Read more about relationship counseling here.

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