Being in a committed romantic relationship involves feelings of intimacy and attachment between partners and desiring that the relationship continues into the future. Those who are committed to their partners manage relationship conflict more constructively, are less likely to cheat, and are more likely to stay together for the long haul. Commitment is clearly important in ongoing romantic relationships; however, it may also influence the how former partners feel about each other after their relationships end. New research suggests that people who were more committed to a romantic relationship have healthier relationships with their exes after breaking up.
Entries in friendship (30)
When it comes to making same-sex friends, we tend to like others who are similar to us. For example, we’re more likely to be friends with people who share our personalities, values, and interests. But what about sexual history? When evaluating potential friends, we could look for someone whose sexual experience matches our own values and past, or we could avoid those with lots of previous partners. And would you want your new friend hanging out with your romantic partner, or would that be a threat to your relationship? Of course, much of this may depend on whether you are man or a woman.
People use Facebook for a lot of things, but keeping in touch with (so-called) “friends” has to be near the top of the list. There are lots of ways to use Facebook, but it’s possible that some ways of maintaining friendships are better than others. For example, you can simply keep tabs on your friend’s activities by stalking his or her Facebook wall. Though a bit passive, monitoring your friend has the benefit of keeping you informed and allows you to have things to talk about the next time you are both together.1 Another, less passive, option is to engage in maintenance behaviors,2 like posting something on a friend’s wall that offers positive encouragement and support, being open and showing empathy, or generally letting your friend know you’re thinking about him or her. On the surface these all seem like good options, but let’s see what the research says…
A reader asked: Is it true that girls who have more guy friends than girl friends are less likely to have anxiety and depression? What does research say about girls who have more guy friends than girl friends?
Interesting question. Before I respond in more detail, I’ll cut to the chase: In my review of the existing research, I couldn’t find a study that directly answers your question about whether having more opposite-sex (OS) than same-sex (SS) friends raises psychological health in women. However, this is what we do know from the research:
If you were sexually permissive, would you approve of your friends’ sexual permissiveness, too? After all, who are we to judge when we act the same way ourselves? Well, let’s say something you value is at stake. The attitudes of an overly sexy friend could threaten your own romantic relationships (“Hey BFF, let’s share everything, including your partner!”). Would you be likely to “mate-guard” your partner from a sexy friend? Or, do you believe in sharing?
Have you ever noticed that you prefer to spend time with certain people when you’re trying to achieve a goal? For instance, when you’re striving to be physically fit, are you more likely to seek out your friend who enjoys going to the gym (as opposed to your friend who enjoys eating cheese puffs and watching TV)? Close others have a unique capacity to help (or hinder) us as we work to achieve our goals (check out a related post here). Researchers call people who help us pursue our goals instrumental others and people who don’t really affect our pursuit of goals or people who impede our pursuit of goals non-instrumental others. Whether or not we feel someone is instrumental in achieving a goal tends to influence our behavior toward that person.
Clinical psychologist and guest contributor, Dr. David Sbarra, recently wrote a great piece on how "Our Brains are Built for Friendship". Follow this link for the full story over on YouBeauty.com.
image source: sarahrosecav.wordpress.com
I Dislike the Dog that Likes the Rabbit that I Dislike: Why Do We Like Some People but Dislike Others?
The notion that people prefer similar others is as empirically-validated a research finding as they come in our field (see here, for example). Similar people make us feel better about ourselves, and who doesn’t like somebody that makes us feel better about ourselves? In fact, the preference for similarity is so common that it is considered a general characteristic of the human condition, and it’s not hard to imagine how preferring to hang around similar people, and avoiding dissimilar people, might benefit survival.
Recently, researchers have begun to identify exactly how early this preference for similar others begins to develop. One can’t help but wonder whether this “universal” preference for similar others is nature (i.e., we’re born with it) or nurture (i.e., others, such as our parents, teach us to like similar others and not like dissimilar others).
February has come and gone, and, fortunately (for some), the Valentine’s Day craze has left with it. Leading up to and throughout the month, contributors at Science of Relationships worked overtime to bring you as much research as possible about the day of love (click here for a thorough recap). With all of the hullabaloo, I think I fell into a state Valentine’s Day fatigue; quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about love!
Instead of love, what about hate? Instead of parents, close friends, and romantic partners, what about enemies? Batman had the Joker; Harry Potter had Voldemort; Austin Powers had Dr. Evil; Jennifer Aniston has Angelina Jolie. What about non-superheroes/celebrities, you ask? Don’t regular people have enemies, too? (for the record, Science of Relationships doesn’t have any enemies. We’re lovers, not fighters.) And, if so, what functions do enemies serve, and are there benefits to having a mortal nemesis?
Chances are that at some point, you wanted to become closer friends with someone you liked but didn’t know well. How should you go about building the relationship? For example, if you and your potential new friend were going to an event together, do you offer to pick him or her up or should you ask for a ride? What if instead you were going with someone who is already your best friend? How likely is it that your choice to offer versus ask for a ride would change? A study by Yale University researchers on how people provide support in friendships illuminates why the closeness of a friendship may influence people’s likelihood to offer versus request support in everyday situations.
Unlike Jerry and Elaine in the classic TV sitcom Seinfeld, or Ted and Robin in How I Met Your Mother, it isn’t easy for ex-romantic partners to remain friends. Think about it…how many of your exes are still friends of yours? Half of them? 25%? If you’re like me, the answer is more likely zero, nil, nada, zilch.
Even if your ex assured you that “it’s not you, it’s me,” breakups are still upsetting. Because of this, it may not surprise you that about 60% of ex-partners do not have contact with one another post-breakup. However, some exes do keep in touch and even become friends after the breakup. In fact, there are several situations in which post-dissolution friendships are more likely.
How often do we hear people say, “I married my best friend”? Certainly, unmarried people in romantic relationships consider their lovers to be good friends as well, but are these friendships with lovers important? Not surprisingly, yes, they are. Across two survey studies, valuing the friendship in one’s romantic relationship benefitted the couples tremendously. Those couples were more likely to be in love, committed to each other, and sexually fulfilled, and these benefits got better with time. Simultaneously, valuing one’s partner as a friend was also linked to a reduced chance of breaking up.
VanderDrift, L. E., Wilson, J. E., & Agnew, C. R. (in press, 2012). On the benefits of valuing being friends for nonmarital romantic partners. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 10.1177/0265407512453009
Having been divorced more than once, I have noticed a sad, but unfortunate by-product: Losing friends. My ex-husband and I had many mutual friends that we met through some parent networking groups; we hosted play dates and attended children’s birthday parties together. Our shared participation was essential for my adjustment to motherhood. The collateral damage I did not anticipate after the divorce was losing some of these friends.
Social networking has fundamentally changed how we interact with one another. For example, researchers find, time and again,1,2 that interactive networking sites are helpful in maintaining relationships with our close friends and family as well as with our acquaintances. But these sites have also changed how we end our relationships. The best example of this is the ability to “unfriend” someone on Facebook. With the click of a button, you are able to terminate your Facebook relationship with anyone you had previously friended. However, when a friend decides to cut you off, you receive no notification that you have been unfriended. In fact, you’re likely to only notice the change in friendship status when your total number of Facebook friends goes down or if you search for the person who unfriended you and notice they are no longer listed as one of your friends.
The article below is continued from Unrequited Love (Part 1): Crushin’ on or Crushed by You? Click here if you missed it.
In Part 1, my teenaged self confessed a long-time crush to a friend. Sometimes these situations can blossom into satisfying romantic relationships if both friends are harboring feelings for each other, but if the person who wants more (confessor) admits this to a desired friend who is uninterested (rejector), the two friends must deal with the resulting emotional fallout in their friendship.
The same researchers did a new follow-up study to uncover the specifics of how these friends behaved toward each other after the confessor had been rejected.1 It turns out that particular types of verbal and nonverbal behaviors in the friends’ interactions were indeed linked to whether or not the friendship ended.
I'm currently involved in what you term a 'cross-sex' relationship. I've found all of your articles very insightful into the way we interact, and the benefits we receive from our close friendship. I also have found knowing that sexual encounters occur in these sort of relationships, which is what happened between my friend and I (yes we fit the college student statistic) interesting. I've read about cross-sex 'life-cycles', different phases in the friendship etc. I was wondering if you could elaborate more on this? Or give some suggestions on how to continue the friendship after sex (Cosmo just doesn't compare with your articles, obviously!).
The blending of friendship with sex seems to be popping up everywhere these days. What you call “cross-sex relationships,” others call “friends with benefits” (FWBs), “booty calls,” and any number of other names. Regardless of what they’re called, these relationships have one important feature in common: they’re complicated!
What should you do to get ready for Valentine’s Day? According to YourTango, you should delete your ex-partner from your Facebook friends list. They have even designated a day for doing it; February 13th is Break Up With Your Ex Day, and this means deleting, blocking, untagging, and unfollowing your ex from Facebook and other social media.
A reader wrote in with the following dilemma: "I'm currently with a boy that I've been with for 2 months, he is so sweet, and treats me like a princess, something I've always wanted. Although, I can't seem to stop talking to my ex bf. I feel like it has to do with the fact that I moved on too quick, it was like a month that I moved on and I was with my ex for 3 yrs. I just don't know what to do with my situation, I'm the type of person that doesn't like to hurt anyone but that's too late. Every time I'm with my ex I get weak, and it gets so hard for me to tell him I can't talk to him anymore, because I know that's the best option for me. Every time I'm with my current bf, everything seems right, but I here and there think about my ex. I need help on what to do, because I will always love my ex, but I have strong feelings for my current bf."
I previously wrote about the things that do and do not predict breakups. Now that we have a good handle on what predicts breakup, let's tackle the question “who predicts breakup?”
The answer seems fairly obvious, right? If I want to know if your relationship will stand the test of time, I should ask you and/or your partner. Who knows more about a relationship than the people actually in that relationship? You’re there (and hopefully awake) for all of the interactions you have with your partner.
Have you ever wanted to share good news with friends but were afraid they would rain on your parade because they’re downers? Researchers recently discovered that people avoid disclosing positive information to low self-esteem friends and romantic partners in order to avoid a negative interaction (e.g., the “downer” pointing out the downside). Interestingly, we don’t keep the good news to ourselves to protect our close others’ feelings – we primarily focus on our own outcomes!
MacGregor, J. C. D., & Holmes, J. G. (2011). Rain on my parade: Perceiving low self-esteem in close others hinders positive self-disclosure. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 523-530.