Entries in communication (62)
Over a decade ago, I promised myself I’d never ask my husband anything that resembles the loaded question, “do these pants make my butt look big?” Although I believe that women are subjected to impossible standards of beauty that could lead any reasonable woman to feel insecure about her appearance, I did not want to reveal myself as insecure about my weight. I knew I was not “fat,” and did not want to find myself behaving like a stereotypical weight-obsessed woman. However, most of all, I made a conscious choice – as a woman who studies body image and eating behaviors – to try my best to be confident about my weight. I believed then, and still believe today, that I don’t have the professional luxury of questioning my body or my weight if I am going to tell other people that they should eat healthy foods and not “worry” about their weight.
In the 20th installment of Sage’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Sue Sprecher (Illinois State University) and Stanislov Treger (DePaul University) talk about their work on self-disclosure during first encounters with strangers. Specifically, the researchers designed a series of experiments to determine whether people enjoy interacting with, and like, a stranger more when those people talk about themselves versus listen to the stranger do all the talking.
To test this question, Sprecher and Treger randomly assigned people to either talk to a stranger or listen to a stranger talk for 12 minutes. What did they find? Listeners, compared to talkers, were happier with the interaction, liked the stranger better, and felt closer to the stranger.
I took a weekend ski trip recently with The Consultant. We had great day of skiing, fantastic Bloody Marys with lunch, and enjoyed a much needed break from work and kids. Over an après ski beer at the base of the mountain, some locals told us that there was an outdoor, natural hot spring close by. That sounded like a perfect way to soothe our tired muscles, so we promptly made our way over for a little tub time.
At check-in, we were informed that clothing was optional in the springs. It was dark outside, and there were not too many people there to potentially gawk at us in our birthday suits, so The Consultant and I were comfortable with that. While most other the other guests at the hot spring were naked, there was one woman sitting at the edge of the pool who was considerably more self-conscious in a 1-piece bathing suit.
A few minutes into our soak, a naked man swam over to the single, clothed woman. After some small talk, he immediately launched into a long, dramatic story about his ex-wife. From what we could gather, this guy’s ex-wife tried to take his kid’s birth certificates and sell them to some Mexican outlaws, she racked up huge amounts of debt using his identity, and then tried to break up every new relationship he started, such as texting him when she knew he was on dates. He was rambling on so much that he was oblivious to the fact that the woman he was trying to impress was slowly inching away from him.
Naturally, I thought to myself, “Whoa, dude, too much information!”
PlentyofFish. Match.com. OkCupid. eHarmony. These are just a handful of dating websites that offer users the opportunity to seek out romantic partners and, if lucky, develop a fulfilling, committed relationship. Such dating sites promise access to a large selection of potential partners, the ability to communicate virtually with other users prior to meeting face-to-face, and (allegedly) rigorous matching with compatible potential partners. It is unclear, however, whether meeting partners online yields more positive romantic outcomes1 than do more traditional avenues (e.g., meeting a relationship partner through friends or by chance encounter). Should you leave it to your computer to play matchmaker, or are you better to stay offline and wait for Cupid’s arrow to strike?
With the start of each new year, I engage in a lot of self-reflection; in fact, I think I do more self-reflection than New Year’s resolution making. At about this time last year, I started to awaken from a long, self-induced romantic relationship hibernation. After wiping the sleep from my eyes, I have dated several interesting men and had quite a few adventures. As I reflect on the last year, and the years that have led up to this one, I need to admit to myself that the changing of old relationship patterns remains difficult for me.
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.
Whether your teenage brother is a petty burglar or you seduced your sister’s fiancé, we all have family secrets. The characters on ABC Family’s mystery-thriller television series, Pretty Little Liars, know this all too well. They struggle to live normal lives despite being surrounded by deceit. To make matters worse, a menacing (and seemingly omnipresent) bully known only as “A” seems to know of every slip-up and secret shame, blackmailing the main characters in exchange for not revealing their dirty deeds. While most of us don’t have an “A” stalking our every move, we all have information that we keep to ourselves. Researchers in the fields of psychology and communication know this too and have uncovered a lot about the nature of family secrets.
John Mayer is apparently a trend-setter among celebrities. The singer/guitarist reportedly dumped Katy Perry by email and Jennifer Aniston with a text message (recommendation: if you are dating John Mayer, hide his iPhone). And Taylor Swift is said to have been the recipient of a break up voicemail (although not from Mr. Mayer). Is this form of calling it quits isolated to just our friends in the entertainment industry or is it common among the rest of us?
Have you ever been dumped over email? Would you text a (soon-to-be-former) partner to let them know it was over? heyyy we r over bye. Technology provides many options for communicating a desire to break up while allowing us to avoid the awkwardness of dumping someone face-to-face. But how often do people use technology to break up, and are some people more likely to do it than others (or be the recipient of it)?
Q: I am 21 years old and my ex-boyfriend is 34. We had been together for 2 years on and off. We broke up two months ago but in the past two weeks he suddenly came into my work place and we spoke. This week we planned on Monday to hang out, but I canceled on him and rescheduled for Wednesday. We had a quick dinner; he kept updating me about his friends and what he has been up to, and asking how I have been. After dinner, he walked me home and brushed his hand against my back occasionally...but when we reached my place, we just hugged and parted. We didn't kiss or talk about where our relationship is going.
The next day he texted me telling me that it was nice to see me again...I replied "Likewise." Two days have passed now...and I haven't heard from him since.
I guess I'm just confused as to whether my ex-boyfriend still wants to get back with me...or is it time for me to let go and move on?
A: Thank you for your question. It does sound like you are getting some mixed signals, so it is natural to want some clarification about what is going on with your ex.
We typically think of significant others as an important source of support when things go wrong in our lives; someone to catch us if we fall. If you were to lose your job, you’d turn to your partner for support to help you through that rough time. However, your partner’s support for positive life events is equally as important. When good things happen, like a new great job falls into your lap, is your partner supportive? “That’s a great opportunity! I’m so excited for you!” Or are they uninterested or negative about your good news? “Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. Are you sure you’re up for it?”
“Oh yeah, that’s it, right there”
“That feels good”
Moaning, groaning, and words of encouragement during sex enhance your partner’s sexual pleasure and a recent study suggests that talking during sex is also linked to your own satisfaction. People who communicate their likes and dislikes to their partners during sex are more sexually satisfied.
Talking about your sexual needs and desires is not always easy; many people feel that having sex is easier than talking about sex.
Cell phones have revolutionized the ways we stay in touch. However, do our mobile phones affect our relationships, even when we’re not using them? Findings from two new studies suggest they do. Pairs of strangers discussed assigned topics in the presence or absence of a phone. Specifically, these “stranger-pairs” sat in a room with either a nondescript mobile phone or an old-fashioned pocket notebook placed unobtrusively on a desk to the side. The simple presence of a phone (vs. notepad) resulted in lower levels of closeness and relationship quality after their discussion. Further, when specifically asked to talk about a meaningful topic, the presence of a mobile phone also resulted in lower levels of trust and empathy. It’s possible that cell phones act as a reminder of people’s wider social networks, and the anticipation of a possible interruption (your best friend complaining about yet another awful blind date?) draws attention away from face-to-face conversations.
Przybylski, A. K. & Weinstein, N. (in press, 2012). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 10.1177/0265407512453827
A reader recently submitted the following question:
“I had a 9 month long-distance relationship (LDR) with a girl I met on an internship abroad. Toward the end of the LDR, I felt that she changed and became uninterested and less available. I admit that I made a mistake by having my life revolve around her, which little by little killed her attraction. I also jeopardized our relationship by being manipulative. She originally said she didn’t want to break up and assured me that she loved me, but a day later she told me she wanted to break up. I was shocked and devastated.
We stayed friends for 2-3 weeks, but I was still miserable and tried to get her to change her mind by hanging out with her day and night. A few weeks later, I told her I loved her to death, which only turned her off more. I then told her I would stop contacting her, hoping that this would be the way to get her back. She replied, saying she respected my decision and still wanted to be friends.
I haven’t replied yet. I still love her very much and still have hope that staying away from her for a while and then reconnecting will show her that I have changed and she will want to be with me again. I’m afraid that I’m not doing the right thing, though. What steps should I take? How should I approach her again? I don’t want to lose her.”
How are adolescent boys learning about sex these days? By pointing, clicking, and streaming through a seemingly endless supply of Internet pornography. That’s right…online porn is now the default form of sex education for a growing number of young boys because they simply are not getting the information they need elsewhere. Personally, I find this prospect kind of scary. I mean, do you really want your son to learn everything he knows about sex from watching Ron Jeremy?
Let’s face it, Facebook has changed the way we experience romantic relationships. The widespread popularity of Facebook has increased the amount of information people can access about their romantic partners - past, present, and future. In addition, Facebook has provided new ways for romantic partners to communicate. In previous posts, I talked about research findings linking Facebook use to higher levels of romantic jealousy and greater relationship satisfaction when going “Facebook official”. But, what are the consequences of staying Facebook “friends” with a partner after breaking up with said partner?
Last week we were fortunate to publish a post on cohabitation guest-authored by two of the foremost experts on the topic. Their research addresses one of the more controversial and hotly-debated patterns of findings in the relationship science world: the marriages of couples that live together (cohabit) before tying the knot often fare worse than the marriages of couples that do not cohabit prior to marrying (commonly referred to as “the cohabitation effect”). There are a number of possible explanations for this effect, (and remember, correlation does not equal causation), but the purpose of this follow-up post is not to dig into those explanations (for now). Rather, I want to put the authors’ key conclusion in context for all those who might be second-guessing their decision to shack up after reading this post.
“Three words, eight letters. Say it and I’m yours.” This was Blair Waldorf’s plea to her on-again, off-again lover Chuck Bass on the television drama Gossip Girl when Chuck wouldn’t admit to anyone his obvious devotion to her. Blair was presumably after the words “I love you,” but considering their long history of slights against each other, she could just as easily have been waiting for the words “I am sorry” to spill from bad-boy Chuck’s lips. As it turns out, the overall well-being of romantic relationships may hang as much on apologies as they do on confessions of love.
Now that the summer is coming to a close, young adults are fervidly preparing for their transition to college (though they may be more excited about leaving their parents’ house). College, of course, offers incoming students many social novelties: independence, new friends, all-nighters to cram for finals, and perhaps even new “temptations” around campus (you may very well find yourself checking out the facebook page of the person in the next dorm). But what if you are entering the ivy-covered walls while still involved in a relationship with your high school sweetheart? Should you break up with your romantic partner, or should you maintain the relationship?
A new Relationship Matters (the official podcast of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships) has just been released. Dr. Tamara Afifi (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) talks about why women find (conflict) avoidance more dissatisfying than men. Check it out here.