Entries in couples (13)


Some Things You Know You Have Before They’re Gone

A wise man (with amazing hair) once crooned “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. The statement’s intended interpretation is that we often take for granted the positive characteristics of our romantic partners up until the moment the relationship is lost.

But is it possible that there are some things we do know we have before we’ve lost them, and that we go out of our way to hang on tight? In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Joshua Oltmanns, Patrick Markey, and Juliana French hypothesized just that. Specifically, they argued that people in relationships are especially in tune how their own physical attractiveness stacks up relative to their partner.1 And when an individual perceives their partner is the relatively more attractive one, they will do things, subtly and not so subtly, to keep their hotter partner all to themselves.

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How Having Couple Friends Helps You Feel the Love

We know that being friends with other couples increases closeness in your own relationship (read more about this here). To see if these friendships also boost feelings of love, researchers had couples engage in a “fast friends” self-disclosure task during which they answered questions such as “What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?”. Couples answered questions either alone or with another couple, and then reported feelings of passionate love (e.g., “I will love my partner forever”). Though there were no changes in passionate love when couples disclosed by themselves, those who answered questions with another couple reported greater passionate love in their own relationships.

Welker, K. M., Baker, L., Padilla, A., Holmes, H., Aron, A., & Slatcher, R. B. (2014). Effects of self‐disclosure and responsiveness between couples on passionate love within couples. Personal Relationships, 21(4), 692-708. doi:10.1111/pere.12058

image source: thesaltcollective.org


“Pillow Talk” Speaks A Lot About Your Relationship

We know that the frequency of sexual activity, the quality of communication during sex, and partners’ reasons for having sex can all influence relationship satisfaction. So while it’s good to embrace the throes of passion and be vocal about it, does what you say after sex matter? 

Intimate conversations that occur between romantic partners after sexual activity are commonly referred to as “pillow talk.” Pillow talk often involves disclosing positive sentiments such as validation and affection, but it can also be negative (e.g., arguing or bringing up complaints). Researcher Amanda Denes at the University of California, Santa Barbara aimed to address the broad question, “Is pillow talk merely obligatory chit-chat, or might it say something more about the relationships of those involved?

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To Spoon or Not to Spoon? After-Sex Affection Boosts Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction

What do you do after sex? If you don’t already, our new research suggests that you may want to spend a little extra time cuddling up with your partner. Across two studies, spending more time being affectionate with your partner after sex  -- above and beyond the time spent engaging in sex itself -- was linked to feeling more satisfied with your sex life and overall relationship.1

In the first study, involving 335 participants (138 men and 197 women, all of whom were in romantic relationships and 90% of whom were heterosexual), people who reported a longer duration of after-sex affection were more satisfied with their sex lives and in turn, happier with their overall relationships. Although people varied in how long they reported cuddling after sex, the average amount of time spent being affection after sex was 15 minutes. Interestingly, duration of after-sex affection was even more important for sexual and relationship satisfaction than duration of sex and foreplay!

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Getting It On vs. Getting It Over With: How Reasons for Having Sex Impact Relationships (Part 2)

In a recent article, I discussed my research using fictional scenarios to show that perceptions of why someone is having sex with their partner influences how people rate that person’s sexual desire and satisfaction. In that study, people who were perceived as having sex for approach goals, such as to enhance intimacy or to feel closer to a partner, as opposed to avoidance goals, such as to avoid conflict or a partner’s disappointment, were perceived as feeling more sexual desire for their partner and being more satisfied with their sex lives and relationships. In our next study, we wanted to consider people’s actual goals for sex and how having sex for different reasons is associated with a person’s sexual and relationship quality. So, how do a person’s own reasons for having sex influence their own feelings of desire and satisfaction? 

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Getting It On vs. Getting It Over With: How Reasons for Having Sex Impact Relationships (Part 1)

Sex plays an important role in overall relationship happiness.1 But, is simply having sex enough to maintain a happy relationship? In a recent study, my colleagues and I looked at the reasons people say they have sex with their partners and how these reasons affect their feelings of desire and happiness with their sex lives and overall relationships.2 

We considered two broad categories of reasons why people have sex with their romantic partners:

  1. Approach goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on pursuing positive outcomes in their relationship, such as enhancing intimacy or feeling closer to a partner.
  2. Avoidance goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on averting negative outcomes in their relationship, such as conflict or disappointing a partner.

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Do Those Who Buy Together Stay Together? Treating Homeownership as a Relationship Decision

My fiance is a mortgage broker, and recently we decided to combine our two passions (mine = relationship research, his = finances) and share some thoughts that might help couples who are thinking of buying a home together. For more information, blogs and videos on finances, visit the Loewen Group website.

Buying your first home? Chances are this is not only a financial decision, but a relationship decision as well.

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Are There Benefits to Making Sexual Changes for your Partner?

Over the course of a romantic relationship, there are bound to be times when your sexual interests diverge from your partner’s interests. Perhaps you enjoy having sex at night, but your partner prefers morning sex. Maybe you desire sex about once or twice a week, but your partner would like to have sex once or twice a day. Or maybe you fantasize about being tied to the bedpost, but bondage is not one of your partner’s sexual fantasies. Although a satisfying sex life is an important part of overall relationship happiness,1,2 sex can also be one of the most challenging issues to negotiate in a romantic relationship.2 Romantic partners may disagree on when to have sex, how often to have it, and what those sexual activities involve. If romantic partners have differing sexual interests, what can they do?

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Dr. Benjamin Karney on Families and Couples


The Ins and Outs of Sexual Frequency

People have a lot of questions when they learn that I study sex and relationships. One of the most common questions people ask is how often couples typically have sex. This question generally comes from the person’s desire to learn if they are on par with other couples’ sexual frequency.

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Men Want Cuddles, Women Want Sex

Say what? This headline likely caught your attention because it challenges our predominant stereotypes about gender and heterosexual relationships.

The media would have us believe that men look for unemotional, no-strings-attached sex whereas women have sex primarily for the cuddling afterwards. Sex and the City featured an episode about ‘having sex like a man,’ a term that referred to having sex without emotions.

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Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth

According to Dr. John Gray’s popular series of self-help relationship books, men and women struggle with one another in their relationships because they are from “different planets.”

One of our readers, Lizette, was curious about the validity of the claims made in Gray’s books. Specifically, she asked: What truth is there to Dr. John Gray's (Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) theory that men are like rubber bands?

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Feeling Your Pain, Quite Literally

Some research is just too cool; here’s a now classic study worth sharing.

For a long time scientists have been curious about the link between empathy and pain. In particular, people use so-called “mirror neurons” to help interpret what others are experiencing, to help remember their own experiences, and to help predict or imagine the past or future.

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