When it comes to understanding the fate of any given relationship, I’d argue that knowing something about a couple’s commitment level, or their attachment to each other and long-term perspective on the relationship, is critical (see our previous article on predicting breakup here). Beyond predictions about staying together versus breaking up, commitment is also associated with all sorts of positive relationship outcomes (see our previous article on 5 Reasons Commitment is Good For Your Relationship). But how is commitment built in a relationship? More than 30 years of research on this topic has identified three pillars that form the foundation of commitment in relationships.
Entries in expectations (10)
It’s no surprise that television shows have a lot of relationship conflict in them. Would you watch Grey’s Anatomy if every time someone had a problem with his or her partner they sat down and had a calm, serious discussion? Probably not. I don’t know about you, but I want to see some EMOTION! It is this need for drama that encourages writers and producers to give us shows full of relational conflict, but what does watching this high-conflict type of television do to our relationships?
Depending on the type of shows you watch and the types of conflicts under consideration (e.g., family conflict vs. romantic relationship conflict), there will be between 1.05 and 8.79 conflicts per hour of television.1,2 In addition, female characters are usually the ones who start the fights, place blame, and use mean tactics (e.g., patronizing comments, chastisement, and defensiveness) to try and get their way in conflicts. Right now, some of you may be thinking, so what? Conflict exists in all relationships, right?
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.
Think about the last time you had a crush. What did it feel like? Chances are this experience involved overwhelming feelings of passion, confusion and excitement. Relationship researchers often refer to this experience as passionate love,1 or “Eros.”2 When someone is in this state of crush, thoughts about their partner (or desired partner) dominate their mind. Further, a person often thinks about their crush in highly idealized ways; their partner is the most beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate person in the world, and there is simply no way you can convince the crush-er otherwise.
Although common when someone is crushing, these idealizations—called positive illusions3—can occur at any relationship stage.
I have had a most thrilling and indecipherable relationship with a girl (I am 26 years old, she is 24): she is pretty, very stylish-looking, and has a divine figure, it seems. I have fancied that I love her with my whole soul. That is a strange thing. From the time that one likes a woman one truly believes that he could not get along without her for the remaining of his life. I know that in order to spend my existence side by side with another there must be not a brusque, physical passion that soon dies out, but a concordance of soul, temperament and temper. She is endowed with this elegant silliness. She chatters, babbles, says nonsense remarks that seem spiritual by how funny they are uttered. When she raises her arms, when she bents, when she gets into a car, when she shake hands, her gestures are perfect for correctness and appropriateness.
She wants to marry me, but I think such a relationship is doomed to failure. She is very poor , from a third-world country, quit school at age 17, often hysterical (unstable) and is of doubtful reputation. The only thing that prevents me from stopping contact with her is that I know she loves me and wants to build a common project for the future. According to her standards, I am rich, overeducated, and from the aristocracy; we are exactly the opposite. Our families wouldn't get along with each other, our values & principles are different. Our conversations only consist of trivialities and are very limited. I can't discuss with her about politics, culture, travelling, history...She is somehow materialistic, though surprisingly sincere in her emotions towards myself. Despite all of this, I can't get her out of my mind (I wish I could), and vice-versa.
My question is: if 2 people are attracted by each other, love each other (or at least believe to) and have the sincere intention to build (or at least try to) a strong relationship that would last, can they achieve their objective even if they are extremely different (both intrinsically and in what life has offered to them since their encounter)?
If two people are attracted to each other and in love, can they build a lasting relationship in spite of very different cultural and economic situations?
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 culled from recent research.
The season premiere of The Bachelor, featuring the rejected Ben Flajnik from last season's The Bachelorette, airs tonight on ABC. Ben's getting a second chance, so we're doing the same for a post from our archives. Click the link below to read SofR's featured columnist Dr. Amy Muise's empirical analysis of how shows like The Bachelor could impact your own romanic pursuits.
“This is our third date, and we both know what that means.”
On a classic episode of The Big Bang Theory, Howard learns about the third date rule – the idea that the third date is the “sex date,” the date when it is deemed appropriate for a new couple to have sex. Is this a dating rule that people take to heart (or to bed) or is it just another urban dating myth?
What are you doing right now? Are you relaxing? Procrastinating? Gaining knowledge about relationships? Reading words on your computer screen?
You can construe any situation in a number of ways. In particular, you can frame most situations in either an abstract, long-term sort of way, or in a more concrete, immediate way.
“Here for the right reasons”
“Last chance at love”
“Sent home broken-hearted”
If you recognize these phrases, you, like me, are guilty of watching The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Recently, one of our readers was curious about how pop culture influences relationships. The current season of The Bachelorette provides a great case study to answer this question. Is watching relationship “reality” TV like The Bachelorette bad for your real life relationships?