There are few voices your hear more than your relationship partner's. Researchers wondered if married parteners were more likely to pay attention to their partner's voice in a crowded and noisy setting, or if they were more likley to ignore it in favor of others' voices. The researchers found that the answer depended on the couple's age. Click here to read more at ABCNews.com.
You: “I’m sorry I was late picking you up today…”
Your partner responds: “That’s okay; it happens...”
Your partner thinks: “But it always seems to happen to YOU!”
Wouldn’t it be great to know what your partner was thinking about during a disagreement? Having a sense of his or her thoughts during a conflict could provide an important window into how your partner feels about you and might indicate how satisfied (or dissatisfied) your partner is with the relationship overall. Similarly, what your partner thinks about during a conflict might be associated with your satisfaction as well. For example, you might pick up on their annoyance with your tardiness, which might make you annoyed with them!
Relationship researchers would also love to “get inside your head” during an argument. But if you are in the midst of resolving a conflict by talking with your partner, how would you simultaneously describe what you’re thinking about?
To hold or not to hold…hands, that is. When you’re in a relationship, are you a hand-holder, or do you prefer to keep your hands to yourself? Perhaps you find your hand gets too sweaty when in the embrace of another, or maybe you only hold hands seasonally when doing so will provide you with an extra bit of needed warmth in the deep freeze of January. Wherever you fall on this spectrum of loving to hold hands or avoiding it like the plague, imagine for a moment that it wasn’t up to you whether or not you could hold hands with your partner. Perhaps, if you hate to hold hands anyway, your response to such a scenario would be a sense of relief. But if you fall on the other side of the spectrum, where you love to walk hand in hand with your partner, you’re probably a bit confused and baffled as to why this simple and personal decision could be taken away from you. Such may be the case for marginalized couples, for whom PDAs may bring unwanted attention, stigma or even violence. Could avoiding PDAs have potential health implications?
In the 25th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Maryhope Howland (a former PhD student at the University of Minnesota; now at Kent State University) talks about her research on how people with different attachment styles use humor in relationships.
Individuals high in attachment security are comfortable getting close to others and with having others get close to them; they also find relationships enjoyable and easy-going. In contrast, those with insecure attachments doubt whether their partners will be there for them in times of need. There are at least two strategies for dealing with this attachment insecurity: (a) become preoccupied with relational partners by being overly sensitive to partner’s emotional moves and developing a sustained expectation that partner’s will eventually betray or abandon them (i.e., attachment anxiety), and/or (b) avoid developing relationships of any significant emotional depth to avoid getting hurt in the first place, which often leads insecurely attached individuals to become emotionally aloof, overly fixated with self-reliance, and emotionally unavailable to others in times of need (i.e., attachment avoidance).
When faced with a potential break-up, who among us hasn’t uttered the phrase, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone?” Whether expressed as a threat or stated matter-of-factly, it is an all-too-familiar anthem for underappreciated dumpers and dumpees alike. Even if you were only bluffing when you said it, you can seek solace in the fact that whether they want to or not, your exs are indeed going to miss you when you’re gone.
The motto “live and let live” sounds great in theory, but many people find it difficult to carry out in practice. Instead, people tend to think that their own lifestyle is totally awesome and that other people should make the same decisions that they have made.
Relationship decisions in particular can be an easy target for judgment. For example, you may know a single person who derides their friends for pairing up, questioning why anyone would choose to shackle themselves to one partner rather than “live it up” with the single life. Or you may know that smug married couple who pushes for other couples to also tie the knot, so they can similarly bask in wedded bliss.
There is a common assumption that men and women are very different and perhaps originate from different planets. Although the “males and females are fundamentally different” narrative may be the prevailing opinion, it is science’s duty to determine whether these ideas are common sense or common nonsense. The “men and women are different” idea is perhaps most pervasive with respect to individuals’ thoughts about sex and romance. Common knowledge suggests that men are hypersexual and women are more reserved, but when it comes to romance, women are much more enthusiastic than men. Findings from survey research seem to support these general assumptions.1,2 With surveys, however, participants report their own feelings, so it may be that participants feel pressure to conform to existing stereotypes. Rather than ask men and women how they consciously feel, in order to get to their true feelings, two University of New Brunswick researchers measured participants’ unfiltered feelings by tapping into their automatic responses.3 The researchers hypothesized that participants unfiltered responses may not conform to existing stereotypes.
Often when we meet someone new and fall madly and deeply in love, we cannot wait to introduce the person to our friends and family. Obviously if we think they are the best thing since sliced bread, everyone else is going to love them just as much – right? Not always. Sometimes, no matter how great we think a person is, our friends and family, for one reason or another, disagree. When this happens, the lack of support for our relationship can jeopardize not only our relationship, but also our health.
So what should you do if your friends and family are disapproving of your current relationship?
How Partners Affect Each Other’s Moods During Important Life Discussions: Relationship Matters Podcast #24
In the 24th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Ashley Randall (Arizona State University) talks about her research on how men and women experience cooperation within a relationship differently and how romantic partners influence each other’s daily moods (for better and for worse). The research, coauthored with Jesse Post, Rebecca Reid, and Emily Butler (all of Univ. of Arizona), focuses on the premise that our romantic relationships influence our overall health and well-being. Relationships have the capacity to either serve as a buffer against stress’s negative effects in our lives or, in contrast, add to the daily stress we experience.
The Scene: My three-year old daughter and I are at Grandma H’s viewing where I racked up parenting fail #315, because I did not want to talk about death with my kid.
The Kid: Who is that? (She asks after spotting the casket at the front of the room in which a coiffed and suited Grandma H resides.)
Mama: That’s Grandma H.
The Kid: Is she old?
Nailed it, right? Ok, not so much. I would like to say that my daughter and I had a deep conversation about death and dying after Grandma H’s viewing…that I was able to talk to my daughter in an age-appropriate and snappy way. It was fall after all, a seemingly good time to talk about dying, given the decay around. I could hear myself now, “Grandma was like a leaf…”
But, I let the moment pass. The month before Grandma’s funeral, I fast-forwarded through the part in the Lion King when Mufasa dies. How do you explain that to a three-year-old? My apparent inability to discuss death with my kid is not that unusual. In Western culture (and in my white, Protestant, middle-class background), most of us do not have explicit conversations about death and dying1. I did not talk to my daughter because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing and of having to explain that I am mortal, too. I wish I had been as quick as a friend who, after she asked him about dying, took his daughter to a graveyard to explain that he would die someday and turn into the dirt she loved to play in.
The notion that women cope with relationship problems or breakups by eating is widespread. Films like Bridget Jones’s Diary perpetuate the stereotype that attacking a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or devouring a bag of potato chips soothes a broken heart, or at least helps women deal with relationship troubles. But is there evidence that relationship problems actually lead women to eat more? Or is this a myth that Hollywood perpetuates?
My friend Hope came over the other day seeking relationship advice. Hope’s mother set her up with a man from her work (so Hope was skeptical), but he called and they spoke on the phone for well over two hours. Not a bad start, so Hope agreed to meet him for drinks. When he walked into the bar, her jaw dropped. He was Gorgeous (yes, with a capital G). Not just the run of the mill, attractive-enough kind of man, but George Clooney caliber. Way to go, Mom!
They spoke for several hours and had a few too many cocktails. Both said that they had a great time and wanted to get together again. After giving the server his credit card, Hope used the restroom. When she returned, her date then left to do the same. She waited at the table for him to return. The server brought back his credit card for his signature. She continued to wait. And wait. And wait. After about 15 minutes, Hope called his cell phone to see if he was ok. No answer.
Though partners in satisfying relationships tend to be similar to one another, they rarely agree on everything. Sure, not every couple has heated arguments, but everyone experiences at least smaller conflicts from time to time. Picture the following scenario: It’s a mundane Tuesday night, you and your partner have just finished warming up leftover pizza, and the two of you plop down on the couch to watch some mindless TV. (Surely this doesn’t just describe my marriage, does it?) You’ve had a long day at the office, but your favorite TV show is about to come on. But then your partner mentions that he wants to watch a different show that comes on at the same time. One option is to tell him to go to the other room to watch his stupid show, but that would mean you wouldn’t be spending any time with him. Another option is to sacrifice, whereby you give up your preferred programming for the sake of your partner’s preferred show. Whether or not you are willing to sacrifice may depend on how much self-control you have at your disposal. In other words, do you have enough willpower to make this sacrifice?
In my last post, I discussed the research showing that couples who receive social approval of their relationships from their friends and family are more likely to report greater relationship satisfaction and more enduring relationships. One of the key points researchers have made in this area is that it is the perception of support/approval that matters most. This means that, regardless of the actual level of support your relationship receives from your friends and family, it is your own perception of that support that most strongly influences your relationship and health outcomes.1 And yes, I did just say relationship AND health outcomes, because research has shown that not only do people in socially-supported relationships (same-sex AND mixed-sex) report greater relationship satisfaction, love, commitment and duration, they also experience fewer mental and physical health problems. That’s right; if everyone you know disapproves of your relationship and you’ve been suffering from depression, anxiety, increased stress or even more frequent physical ailments, it’s quite possible that these experiences are connected.
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