Some say that knowledge is power. Although knowledge in skills such as physics, literature, history, or foreign languages can help you look smart and win on Jeopardy (speaking of which, do you want to hear me talk about history in Russian?), it is less clear whether having knowledge of other people can help you “win” in social situations. In other words, can knowledge about another person lead you to like this person more? Social psychological research has evidence that familiarity may lead to either more and less liking, depending on the context.
When the Beatles proclaimed that “love is all you need,” little did they know these lyrics would be subjected to scientific scrutiny. Indeed, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the classic song holds some truth for real relationships. Specifically, relationship success may depend not only on fighting less, but also on being more affectionate in contexts where positive, loving behavior is appropriate or expected. While relationships research has historically focused on alleviating negative communication patterns and distress, such as during conflict, a number of recent studies have explored the role of positive processes in promoting optimal relationship functioning.
A friend recently passed along the following and termed it the first date riddle:
“A woman is attending her mother’s funeral and sees a man in the back of the church that she wishes to talk to. He leaves before she gets a chance to speak with him. The next day she kills her sister. Why does she kill her sister?”
The answer to this riddle is that she kills her sister so she can see the man in the back of the church again (she assumes if he attended her mother’s funeral, he would also attend her sister’s). A pretty dark answer, right? The assumption is that the person who answers this riddle correctly is more likely to be a psychopath (empirical evidence not available). Given this possibility, you can ask this riddle on a first date to identify potential psychopath romantic partners before you make the mistake of scheduling a second date.
At the stage of my life right now, I feel like I should be able to have a grasp of this, but I still don't. I am 27, male, and I've never had a serious relationship. The plain and simple reason is because I don't know how. During high school the girlfriends that I had were always more aggressive in getting what they wanted (me), so I never truly learned how to go for a woman. As I grew older, it seemed to me that the women expect the men to do most if not all of the work when it comes to intimacy. The steps from introduction to actual physical intimacy are very unclear to me; it's like figuring out the meaning of life (yes, it's that much of a mystery to me).
I met my first boyfriend in a Sailor Moon chat room. For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon was a Japanese anime show that was “popular” in the late 1990s. My online alter ego, a character I named Hiko Aino (Japanese for “fire child of love”), was tall, graceful, and witty—everything that I, at the time, was decidedly not. After a few weeks of frequenting the chat room, I started a relationship with a guy whose online persona was a dog (yes, a dog, as in a canine…oh, the shame is endless). It’s probably worth mentioning I was thirteen at the time and wildly unpopular at school (given what I just shared, I can’t imagine why). But the chat room allowed me to reinvent myself, connect with others with similar interests, and—in short—escape the sad reality of middle school. And although the Sailor Moon chat room is probably long gone, other virtual worlds have sprung up in its wake. One such environment is the online community named Second Life.
Imagine you’re buying a new cell phone. Would you rather have a ton of different options or only 1-2 choices? Usually, people assume that having more choices is better. In fact, in experiments that mimic game shows (“what’s behind door #1?) people will pay more money to have more options to choose from. But ironically, having more choices can be a source of distress. People feel less satisfied with their decision after it’s made when they have a bunch of different options to choose from, and sometimes people experience paralysis-by-analysis (they give up and don’t choose anything at all.). Some scientists refer to this as the “paradox of choice”—a lot of choices feels like something we want, but it ends up being bad for us.1
New research suggests that how supported we feel in our relationships affects how appealing we find having a lot of options/choices.
It seems as though there is a fairly standard list of New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, pay off credit card debt, and quit smoking/drinking. Perhaps you’ve gone beyond this list and added things like: spend less time on Facebook or watching TV, get organized, find a better job, fix up the house, stop procrastinating, etc.
Oddly (to us, anyways), although resolutions typically emphasize physical and mental health, they generally ignore relationship health. To address this oversight, here is list of 7 scientifically-validated ways you can improve your relationships...
According to superstition, the person you kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve is the person with whom you’ll share your love and affection in the upcoming year. A New Year's Eve kiss allegedly brings good luck for the future of your relationship with the recipient on the other end of your lips…but can a kiss really predict the future?
Was 2012 a sexy year for you? It sure was here at ScienceOfRelationships.com. Here are the highlights of our "Year in Sex":
- Supersize Me: Does Penis Size Matter to Women?
- Getting Her There: When Are Women Most Likely To Have Orgasms?
- The Ins and Outs of Sexual Frequency
- Breaking It Off: Sex-Positive Shops and the Women’s Sex Toy Revolution
- Is Masturbation Bad For Your Health and Your Relationship?
- Monkey See, Monkey Do (and by “Do” We Mean “Have Sex”)
Thanks to all of our fans, readers, and contributors for making 2012 a banner year at ScienceOfRelationships.com. We have some outstanding new articles coming in the new year, but here's one last chance to see our "best of" 2012:
- The More the Merrier?
- Note to Gotye: It's Probably Better that She Cut You Off
- Sex in Friendships, Friendship After Sex
- Let's Talk About Sex...During Sex
- The Dependency Paradox
- Body and Mind: How Seemingly Unrelated Physical Experiences Affect Our Relationships
- Four Signs that Don Draper is Avoidantly Attached
- Could You Be Loved, and Give Love? Cultural Differences in Pursuing a Partner
- Bringing Home More Than Just the Bacon: When Work Life Collides with Home Life
- Now or Later? The Ideal Age to Say “I Do”
- The Seasons for Sex
- Breaking Up Bad: The Best and Worst Ways to Break Up
- How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Show You the Ways
- Your Partner and You: One Shared Brain
- Note to Parents of Adolescent Kids: Stay Out if You Want "In"
- When Are Pick Up Lines Most Effective?
- How to Make “Couple Friends” (and Why You Should)
- Evidence to Support a Valid Online Dating Matching Algorithm: My Wish List
- Pheromone Parties: The Sweet Smell of a Future Partner
- So Many Fish in the (Online) Sea: Is All This Choice a Good Thing?
With the launch of her column Adventures in Dating: Memoirs of a Single Mom this year, Dr. Jennifer Harman has let readers take a peek in her heart, and bedroom, as she chronicles through a scientific lens her return to the dating world. We've been introduced to men such as The Consultant, Mr. Metal Mouth, The Question Mark, Mr. Scuba Man, and The Cheapskate, and learned new terms like Insanimus Guano and Premature Sextaculation. All in all, it's been a fun and educational year. But our favorite from Adventures in Dating... is when Dr. Harman was challenged to reflect on her feelings about polyamory.
Maybe the only thing more popular than ScienceOfRelationship.com over the last couple of years has been Gotye's catchy song (and video) "Somebody That I Used To Know." And although he exclaims to his lost love "that you didn't need to cut me off," Dr. Sadie Leder explains that it's probably better that she did.
The third spot on the 2012 Editors' Choice Awards goes to Drs. Laura Vanderdrift and Justin Lehmiller, for their answer to a reader's question about how to navigate a "friends with benefits" relationship. What happens once sex invades a friendship, and what do people ultimately want to happen after hooking up with a friend? See what science has to say...
We know you like to talk about sex, and the only thing better than talking about sex is talking about sex while you have sex. In one of our most popular articles of the year, Dr. Amy Muise explores how communication in the heat of the moment is related to sexual satisfaction.
"I love you so much and never want to be apart." "I love you but could use a little space." These quotations reflect two opposite, but common, reactions people have to relationship partners. Such sentiments demonstrate how people both need to connect with others while simultaneously maintaining independence. But how do we balance these opposing needs? Dr. Dylan Selterman explains this "dependency paradox" from the perspective of attachment theory.
Relationships are complicated. So it seems ridiculous to think that sitting in an unsteady chair, moving in the same direciton as someone, or drinking a hot beverage could influence your relationships. Well, think again. Read this article by Dr. Brent Mattingly in which he discusses how psychological research on embodiment explains how subtle experiences can have a real influence on your relationships.
It's the holiday season, and that means Don Draper is on the prowl. In our #7 article of 2012, Samantha Joel explores how our favorite advertising exectutive's childhood experiences shaped his attachment style and became the root of many of his "bad" behaviors. So pour yourself a Manhattan (or a Vodka gimlet) and delve into the life of Don Draper.
With all of her travels, Dr. Michelle Kaufman has become our globetrotting international correspondent, stamping her passport while writing about Korea, Tanzania, Thailand, and Ethiopa in the past year. Have you ever wondered how other cultures' relationships compare to your own? Click below to find out.
Going to work sucks. It is bad enough that you have to put up with your inept boss and annoying coworkers, but what happens to your relationship when work follows you home? Dr. Helen Lee Lin explains how bringing that negativity home from the office with you can harm your relationship.