The country pop hit song “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes resonates with individuals in close relationships who strive to make their beloveds feel cherished and desired. Despite the heartfelt nature of the song, the motives for and consequences of this approach to relationships remain uncertain. What drives the desire to make one’s partner feel wanted? How does it affect our relationships? And is the longing to “hold your hand forever and never let you forget it” particularly characteristic of males, as “Wanted” implies?
Two years and 1.5 million page views later, we've reached our second birthday. We are incredibly thankful to all of our awesome contributors who make this site happen and to our loyal readers.
If you aren't sure what to get us for our birthday, the best gift is to share relationship science with others. Please share your favorite ScienceOfRelationships.com article on your preferred social networking platform like Facebook, Twitter, reddit, Pintrest, etc. The best present we can hope to receive today is to know that our readers (and their relationships) benefit from relationship science.
It seems like some guys took our advice about Valentine's Day gifts a little too literally (either that, or these guys are relationship geniuses).
In case you missed any of them, here are links to our articles from this week:
- The Pressure to Be Thin: Males’ Influence on Female Romantic Partner’s Body Satisfaction
- Hot and Heavy or Slow and Steady: Changing Our Perspective on Love
- Relationship Beliefs Can Lead to Unrealistic Expectations of Romantic Partners
- Dr. KC Haydon on WPR
- 10 Things that TV and Movies Teach Us about Relationships
Here's what we've been reading this week:
- Why Do Straight Women And Gay Men Get Along So Well? They Exchange Good Sex Advice (lehmiller.com)
- The Good, the Bad and the Dirty: The iVillage 2013 Married Sex Survey Results (ivillage.com)
- A Match Made in the Code (nytimes.com)
- Where the Singles Are: A Dating Guide by ZIP Code (nytimes.com)
- 10 Fresh Looks at Love (smithsonian.com)
- Cupid's Arrow: Light Shed On Laws of Attraction (sciencedaily.com)
- I Love Your Ballot, Baby (slate.com)
We’ve all been known to pack on a few extra pounds over the holidays. Not surprisingly, our weight, as well as our partners’ weights, can influence our romantic relationships. For example, when relationship partners’ weight levels start to diverge and become different from one another, leading to what researchers refer to as mixed-weight couples (think Peter and Lois Griffin from Family Guy or Oprah & Stedman), there can be problems. In fact, recent research1 and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal ("Put a Stop to ‘Do I Look Fat?'") investigate what happens in relationships where one partner, particularly the female, is less fit than the other. According to research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, relationships that pair an overweight female and a healthy weight male experience more conflict.
As she outlines in the article, in a new relationship, our partner constantly surprises us because so much about him or her is a mystery. This uncertainty is exciting and often accompanied by high levels of desire and passion. Social psychologists refer to early stage of a relationship as passionate love – an intense period of longing and desire for a partner that is common in new relationships but tends to fade after about two years. Over time, our partners become more familiar and predictable, and we shift to a more companionate love stage. Although this stage typically involves a deep connection, it is less intense and often feels more stable and comfortable.
Even people in the happiest relationships tend to have some things that they wish they could change about their partners: habits they wish their partners would break, skills they wish their partners would hone, or personality traits they wish their partners would work on. But can a partner ever really change?
Well, yes, they can, with a great deal of hard work, and there will usually be some setbacks along the way.1 But what seems to be particularly important for people’s relationships is whether or not people think their partners can change.
My mom used to say that watching TV would “rot your brain.” While I think she was probably right (fun fact: moms are always right), on occasion TV and movies can teach us a thing or two about our relationships. Here are ten relationship lessons that the writers at ScienceofRelationships.com have culled from TV shows and movies like Twilight, Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and many others:
1. Expose Yourself, Get Liked
In this case, “expose” means that you should be in close proximity so that the person sees you and can interact with you (so please keep your pants on). On How I Met Your Mother, Barney describes this idea in his “Mermaid Theory.” Read more here.
In case you missed any of them, here are our Valentine's Day related-articles from the last couple of weeks. If you're single or in a relationships, we hope you have a great day!
- Science-Approved Valentine's Day Cards
- Chinese Valentine’s Day: A Sign of China’s Rising Love Culture
- How Do Same-Sex Couples View Valentine’s Day?
- On Valentine Street, Chivalry Isn’t Dead
- Bad Valentine’s Day Gifts: Do They Hurt Your Relationship?
- Warning! Valentine’s Day May Be Hazardous for Your Relationship’s Health
- The Sense(s) of Attraction
- To the Love of My Life: Motivations for Gift-Giving on Valentine’s Day
- Give the Gift of Simultaneous Orgasm This Valentine’s Day
- How Do You Announce Your Love on Valentine’s Day?
- Beyond Sex Organs: 11 Meaningful Facts about Single People
- The Perfect Valentine’s Day Date: Keep it Warm and Heavy
- Beware of Claims about Single People that Come from Online Dating Services
- She Said/He Said: What to Get Your Partner for Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day Gifts: Pleasure or Obligation?
- Valentine’s Day: A Chance to Make You and Your Relationship Better
- Sexy in Red? Not So Fast!
- Dr. Bella DePaulo on Bad Advice for Singles on Valentine's Day
- Sweets for My Sweet?
- Valentine’s Day Cards through the Lens of Science
What should you do to get ready for Valentine’s Day? According to YourTango, you should delete your ex-partner from your Facebook friends list. They have even designated a day for doing it; February 13th is Break Up With Your Ex Day, and this means deleting, blocking, untagging, and unfollowing your ex from Facebook and other social media.
Wanna talk about your love life? People in China do. For the past year, I’ve been living in Shenzhen and working on a collection of true stories about love and marriage experiences since the rise of Communist China. Far from being viewed positively, romantic love often generates suspicion among the older generations and confusion among the young. This brief Valentine’s Day story, told to me by a charming twenty-two year old Buddhist woman, illuminates the clash of old and new ideas about love:
“The first time a boy kissed me, I was fifteen, and it was Valentine’s Day. He pretended to have a school question to ask, but instead he declared that he liked me. He pressed a rose into my hand, which I tried to refuse, stammering that I didn’t like him at all. I turned to go, but he pulled me close and kissed me! I wrestled my arm away and raced into my house, very flustered. After that, I hated him, thinking he was a morally rotten boy. I had never seen anybody kiss or hug in my hometown, not even married people, and nobody said, “I love you” either. I just wanted to cultivate friendships and avoid loving anyone, so I never talked to that boy again. If people in my hometown ever kissed like young lovers do in the cities, everyone would think they were degenerates, even today.”
As far as mainstream holidays go, Valentine’s Day is perhaps the most heteronormative of all. From greeting cards and gifts, to television shows and movies, society inundates us with messages that Valentine’s Day is an occasion to celebrate monogamous, heterosexual relationships. It’s a day when men buy flowers, chocolates, and (for the more adventuresome) frilly panties for their ladies before having a candlelight dinner punctuated by kisses and declarations of love and fidelity. So on a day when almost everything seems to be about “devoted husbands” and their “beloved wives,” what are gays and lesbians supposed to do?