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).
We don’t mind that they weren’t fond of the term, but we do take offense to them misreporting the findings of the study. They say that (in addition to hating the term), “…you can hate are the people who use them [relfies] too much, that is to say, happy couples who post a lot of selfies together. According to the same researchers who coined relfie, the whole point of doing so was to find out what the use of such hot pix indicates about the status of the relationship illustrated therein.”
Along with Jezebel, several other media outlets misreported that people don’t like other people who post relfies. Our study DID NOT find this.
It isn’t every day that you get to invent a cool new word. But that is exactly what we at Science Of Relationships did by coining the term “relfie” in an article about how people present their relationships on Facebook.
As something new and cool related to the Internet, Jezebel.com wrote about our new invention. Jezebel doesn't hate it (“Relfie isn't hate-worthy”), but do think it is redundant with a selfie.
As the originators of the term, we politely disagree.
Bob is interested in dating Anne and thinks that they could really click, but he is unsure whether Anne feels the same way. As a result, Bob is afraid to make a move on Anne because he doesn’t want to be rejected. So Bob plays it cool, thinking that his interest is obvious to Anne, and waits to see if Anne will ask him out. Anne, who is interested in Bob, is also worried about being rejected, and so she also plays it cool and waits to see if Bob will ask her out. They are both holding back because they each fear rejection, but because neither of them make a move, they both assume each is disinterested in the other. They also both think their worries about rejection and interest in dating are obvious. Alas, Bob and Anne never end up dating, because they both waited for the other to make the first move and when the move didn’t happen, they assumed the other was disinterested. You may have experienced versions of this scenario in your own life, or seen it played out on TV or in movies. In this post, I describe research on how the fear of rejection affects how people think and behave when trying to start a new relationship (what researchers refer to as relationship initiation).
For three days in July (July 10-13th) the International Association for Relationship Research will be meeting in Melbourne, Australia! There will be speakers from many disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, communication, and anthropology), all of whom will be talking about the newest advances in relationship science. For example, Dr. Garth Fletcher will be talking about how love helps solve the mystery of human evolution, and Dr. Judith Feeney will discuss how our attachment styles affect how we respond to relationship conflict.
Attending the regular conference can be pricey ($200 a day for non-members, or $640 for the entire weekend, including receptions), but the organization is pleased to announce a $10 event designed for the general public that will be held on Wednesday, July 9th from 12-1:30 pm (for those of you in or planning to be in Australia!). At this open event, Australian and international experts on relationships will answer fundamental questions such as Do our relationships early in life shape our relationships in later life? (Professor Jeffry Simpson, University of Minnesota) and What do we look for in a romantic partner? (Dr. Gery Karantza, Deakin University). These thought-provoking presentations will each be followed by a 20 minute Q & A and a light lunch. For registration information for this pre-conference event, please visit here!
In the 35th installment of Relationship Matters, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Eran Bar-Kalifa (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) talks about his research on how receiving emotional support from one’s partner comes with downsides.
Bar-Kalifa, together with Professor Eshkol Rafaeli (Bar-Ilan University & Columbia University), studied couples’ relationships intensively for about a month. The researchers predicted that receiving less support than expected on a given day would be associated with worsened moods on those days. And this was indeed the case. Interestingly, however, they also predicted (and found) that receiving emotional support beyond what was expected on a given day had no additional positive emotional benefit for that day.
How can it be that providing emotional support beyond what is expected has no positive benefit?
For the full story, listen to the podcast here.
(Reposted from The Psychology of Human Sexuality)
In 1972, a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology announced scientific support for the so-called “Romeo and Juliet effect." The basic idea was that the more parents try to interfere in a couple’s relationship, the stronger that relationship becomes--just like in Shakespeare's classic story. Given both the sexy name and intuitive appeal of this idea, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that this effect has been cited hundreds of times in academic journals and textbooks. In recent years, however, several scientists (myself included) have grown skeptical of this idea because it just doesn’t seem to fit with what the broader literature on social approval and relationships has reported.
For instance, I published a series of three studies over the last decade showing that when one’s family and friends do not accept or approve of one’s relationship, the health of the partners and the quality of the relationship tends to suffer. Specifically, when people perceive that their romantic relationship is marginalized, not only do they report worse physical and psychological health  and less commitment to their relationship , but they also have an increased likelihood of breaking up in the next year  (see here for a more detailed summary of some of this research). In light of these results, one might reasonably predict the opposite of the Romeo and Juliet effect: when parents don’t approve of a relationship and try to interfere, that relationship is more likely to deteriorate rather than flourish.
But if this is the case, how do we explain the findings of the 1972 study?
You’re probably wondering what a “relfie” is, so let’s start there. A relfie (you heard it here first!) is a “relationship selfie,” or when you take a selfie that includes a relationship partner or someone else you are close to (like a parent and child). Relfies are those pictures that people take when they turn their cameras on themselves to show off their relationships that are then posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
On Facebook, there are lots of ways to let your social network know that you are in a relationship, including posting relfies, changing your relationship status to say that you “are in a relationship with…”, and mentioning your partner in status updates. Facebook lets people control what others see about their relationships, thus allowing “friends” the ability to gather information and form impressions about others’ relationships.
I can recall the specific day that sparked my endless pursuit to understand attachment and relationships. I was sitting in an undergraduate class lecture when my professor introduced the concept of attachment styles (read more about attachment styles here). I was so intrigued. The professor explained that roughly 50-60% of the population is securely attached. I began to do the math. If roughly 50-60% of the population is deemed secure, where does that leave the other 40–50%?
Does that mean that nearly half of the population is doomed to a lifetime of insecure relationships?
In their latest book, Think Like a Freak, economist Steven Levitt and his Freakonomics friend and co-author, Stephen Dubner, urge readers to think about the world differently by training readers’ brains to approach problems in unique ways. For example, they suggest readers avoid focusing on the big picture and instead focus on the smaller, more manageable (and more changeable) elements of a problem. They also encourage adopting a greater willingness to simply say, “I don’t know,” and share their thoughts about how to persuade those who don’t want to be persuaded (hint: don’t be a jerk, and you should tell stories).
In the final chapter, “The Upside of Quitting,” Levitt and Dubner suggest that, contrary to what many people have told you in life, you should quit. That is, when things get tough, you shouldn’t always tough them out and stick with it. Instead, you should quit and do so sooner rather than later.