“Do you pursue love or does it pursue you? Do you think that people are in one of these two categories or is it ever changing in our lives?”
Great question; this is essentially getting at what researchers call “implicit theories of relationships.” What’s important is what you believe about relationships and love, not necessarily that there’s a one-size-fits-all prescription for relationships.
A recent study by University of Texas sociologist Dr. Mark Regnerus is receiving a large amount of media attention. The study, published in Social Science Research, supposedly calls into question the empirically-based argument that children who grow up in households with two mommies or two daddies generally show no differences on a host of outcomes relative to kids who grow up with a mom and a dad. You can read a summary of the work, written by the lead author, here.
As William Saletan, of Slate.com writes, however, the devil is in the details. The survey methodology, analytical strategy, and overall conclusions drawn by the reseachers all suffer from serious limitations (never mind the role of the funding source for the study). Saletan does an excellent job of evaluating the work and highlighting how the findings, if anything, argue for marriage equality.
This work, and the ensuing discussion/debate, demonstrates once again how conclusions drawn from research are only as sound as the science behind the research.
image credit: blogs.orlandosentinel.com
Have you ever found yourself walking in the same direction as a stranger (e.g., down the hall at work/school; through the shopping mall) and found yourself oddly attracted to that person? No? Yeah, me neither. But, and hear me out, even though we don’t consciously feel an immense desire for this person, we may be more attracted to the stranger than if her or she had been walking the other direction.
My ex and I work in the same restaurant, and while we have different jobs there, we still have a lot of contact. We broke up three months ago after being together since last May. She was by my side while I battled testicular cancer and we became really close. Since then we have been hanging out pretty much the same amount as we did when we were together and would occasionally hook up. This is my first real relationship and my first real breakup so I’m not really sure how to handle myself, and working together just makes everything more complicated. I’ve recently come to the realization that I am better off without her and don’t want to get back together with her but thinking about her with other guys is extremely unnerving. I don’t want to become a crazy ex-boyfriend and I need some advice: please help!
First of all, I have to say that I really sympathize with what you’re going through. Breakups can be very hard, especially when you’ve developed a close bond. The upside is that you know for sure that you do not want the relationship to continue, and making that decision really is half the battle. The other half of the battle is moving on. I’m going to give you some tips on how to get over your ex based on what researchers know about attachment.
A few days ago we posted an article written by Dr. Sadie Leder that was inspired by Gotye's catchy tune "Somebody That I Used To Know". While researching that song (yes, we research everything) we stumbled upon this, which we thought y'all would enjoy.
You might assume that relationship science doesn’t have much to say about vampire romances, but you would be wrong. Previously, we wrote about the Sookie/Bill/Eric love triangle, but relationship research explains some of the other complex relationships on True Blood as well.
One of the reoccurring storylines in Bon Temps is that Sookie’s best friend, Tara, doesn’t understand why Sookie continues to be attracted to her undead suitors (first Bill, then Eric), especially given all the trouble they’ve caused. Every time Bill makes a mess of things, Sookie forgives him. Why doesn’t Tara forgive Bill?
I recently spent a few days in Seoul, South Korea on my way to Indonesia. I have some friends in Seoul, so I decided to check it out for a few days. Being a social scientist who specializes in sexual behavior, I asked anyone who would speak with me questions about people’s romantic relationships, marriage, and social norms around the topic of sex. Based on these conversations I came to the uncomfortable realization that commercial sex work is very common, if not normalized, in Korea. This normalization is partly due to the Japanese colonialist roots when prostitution was legal, as well as the abundance of brothels that serve military bases and the large number of business travelers visiting the city.
(This article was adapted from the book Science of Relationships: Experts Answer Your Questions about Dating, Marriage, & Family.)
When most people hear the word discipline in the context of parenting, they often think of punishment, which generally involves the application of some negative stimulus (e.g., physical pain, like spanking) or removal of something positive (e.g., removal from a rewarding activity, like a time-out from play) in hopes of changing a child’s behavior. Researchers, however, conceptualize the term discipline far more broadly; it turns out that a lot of what parents might do when their children misbehave is considered discipline. For example, recent research by Elizabeth Gershoff and colleagues1 assessed how eleven different parental responses (or, as researchers refer to them, discipline techniques) in six different countries were associated with 8- to 12-year-old kids’ aggressive and anxious behaviors. Researchers asked parents how frequently they performed eleven behaviors after their kids misbehaved over the prior year (kids also indicated how often their parents did these things) and also measured kids' use of aggression and anxiety symptoms.
Poor, Gotye. Have you learned nothing from the heartbroken crooners before you? Sure, the heartache and gut-wrenching pain of staying connected to an ex-partner makes for excellent music, but did you really want to put yourself through that? I say, why not just thank your ex for ripping the band-aid off quickly, and keep moving forward?
Although I had a fantastic date with The Consultant a few weeks ago, he travels a lot for work and I have not been able to see him again. Rather than put all my eggs into one basket too soon, I had a date with someone else this week. This guy’s on-line dating resume had many of the requirements I am seeking: highly educated, attractive, and seemingly adventurous. He selected an upscale bar/restaurant for our date.
After a few light-hearted exchanges, I asked him how he has been enjoying the dating scene. Turns out he was enjoying it just fine, except when the women he dates were uncomfortable with him being polyamorous. Hold up! I about choked on the olive I was eating out of my martini. “Did you say... polyamorous? Yes, that is what he said. He had conveniently left that out of his internet profile.
Love in the Wild, NBC's dating show that is the love-child of Survivor and the Bachelor/Bachelorette, is back for a second season. As far as the science of attraction and relationships, this show makes a lot of sense. We're looking forward to an entertaining, dare we say "arousing," season!
In case you missed any of them, here are links to our articles from this week:
- Thou Doth Protest Too Much: Are Homophobes Homosexual?
- Now or Later? The Ideal Age to Say “I Do”
- Cooperation During Divorce Negotiations: Guilt and Shame Matter
- Breaking It Off: Sex-Positive Shops and the Women’s Sex Toy Revolution
- Feel the Warmth: Attachment Anxiety and Temperature
Here's what we've been reading this week:
- The Nation's Patchwork of Same-Sex Laws (statesmanjournal.com)
- Does It Pay To Be A “Nice” Guy? In The Long Run, Yes, But In The Short Term, Not Necessarily (lemiller.com)
- Is Online Dating Turning Us Into Jam Idiots? (blog.whereisthisgoing.us)
- Married People Are Happier—Maybe Because We Shun Singles (good.is)
- Are men really more unfaithful than women? (bbc.co.uk)
The necessary paperwork to make it official. An interactive version is available here, along with some other useful documents for your relationships (bureauofcommunication.com).
Last month, President Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Stephen Colbert was quick to quip that he was astonished that Obama admitted he was gay and Newsweek coined him “the first gay president.”
Of course, supporting civil rights for LGBT individuals is not synonymous with being gay. But, the vehemence with which some people deny that they are gay and go out of their way to prevent gay people from enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has always been confusing to us. Recent research may help clarify why some individuals appear to be anti-gay.
When to get married is one of the most debated topics among my group of friends. It is becoming more apparent that most do not intend to tie the knot until they are in their late twenties or thirties, if at all. Indeed, the desire to postpone marriage is on par with the rising trend in the age of first marriage in the United States. In 2011, the average age of marriage for men and women is 28.7 and 26.5 respectively compared to 24.7 (men) and 22 (women) in 1980 (read more about age differences here). However, regardless of the reasons behind the delay in marriage, research suggests this may not be a wise move.
Let’s face it: Many marriages end. Divorce occurs for a variety of reasons, but regardless of the cause, ex-partners often need to negotiate with one another during the divorce process. For example, if there are kids in the picture, how is custody resolved? How does the couple divide up their friends? Who gets to keep the reality TV show that helped pay the bills?