Communication is an important part of romantic relationships, especially when navigating conflict or when trying to change a partner’s behavior. Although dealing with these issues can sometimes be distressing, it can also serve as an opportunity for you and your partner to learn about each other and improve your relationship.1 Indeed, by the end of this article, I hope it is clear that what matters most is not the presence of conflict itself, but rather how you and your partner handle the conflict (i.e., the communication strategies you use).
Entries in interdependence (17)
You know those people on Facebook who tag their romantic partners in every…single…post? Or how about the people whose uploaded photos almost always contain their partners? If you’re anything like me, you may find it somewhat annoying, but these kinds of behaviors convey important information about couples’ relationships.
Previously, we have discussed how romantic partners’ senses of self gradually begin merging together and overlap with one another. In other words, we begin to take on some of our romantic partner’s aspects into our sense of who we are (e.g., you may find that you have picked up interests or hobbies that your partner introduced you to), and we begin to talk more in terms of “us” and “we” than “me” and “him/her”. In a recent study, researchers surveyed 276 individuals (mostly college students) about various aspects of their romantic relationships, including the degree of self-partner overlap and the content of their Facebook profiles.
As someone who is fascinated by all things “decision making-y” in relationships, I was really excited to attend a symposium this morning on how people’s commitment to their relationships can change over time. One talk in particular, by Sara Blanch and colleagues, was about how people make that critical, early relationship choice to agree to be exclusive with their partners.
The science of relationships focuses primarily on romantic liaisons, but significant relationships come in all shapes and sizes (e.g., family, friendships, hookups, etc.). Recent research underscores this point, demonstrating that many of the basic concepts of relationship science characterize the relationships between certified nurse assistants (CNA) and their resident patients.1 Such work is important: according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 1.5 million nursing aides/attendants, and the number of new jobs in the profession over the next 10 years is expected to grow significantly.
Infidelity-- cheating, being unfaithful, or what researchers would describe as “couple members’ violations of relationship norms regarding exclusivity”-- clearly can cause negative emotions such as feelings of betrayal, hurt, and jealousy. With spring break (at American colleges and universities) just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to discuss how relationship commitment affects the likelihood of infidelity when partners are geographically separated and tempted by the fruit of another.
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.
Can couple members be so close to one another that their individual identities merge into one? We might think of couples, like “TomKat” (Tom Cruise + Katie Holmes) and “Beyon-Z” (Beyonce + Jay-Z…yep, you heard that one here first), as a single unit, but do they think about themselves that way?
They do if they’re committed to their relationships. More committed people think of themselves as being a part of a single unit that includes their partners.
"DX" asked the following question: I'm wondering if there are any studies about long distance relationships? There's just so much knowledge I believe to be gained from focusing on such a very difficult but highly rewarding relationship type.
Dear DX-- You are exactly right; there's a lot to be learned by looking at the dynamics of long-distance relationships (or what those of us in the business affectionately refer to as "LDRs"). Fortunately, researchers have not neglected this common relationship context. Please see our previous posts by SofR contributor Dr. Bevan (see here and here).
Additionally, below I've pasted an excerpt from our forthcoming book, where I answer the question: Is distance bad for relationships?
Rarely do I see an ad for a reality TV dating show and think to myself, “Hey, that reminds me of a research study.” But somehow, some way, NBC’s new show Love in the Wild did just that. What I found amazing is that the show appears to have been created by someone who really enjoyed our post on how heightened arousal levels can result in greater attraction between partners.
In a previous post we talked about why celebrities cheat in their relationships. But what about the rest of the world? Why would they cheat? Certainly there are many things that contribute to relationship infidelity. One potential contributing factor is that one’s partner doesn’t provide enough new and exciting experiences within the relationship or what researchers call self-expansion.
The Mouse That Roared (October, 1985)
Diana Brought to Heel? (September, 1988)
Di’s Palace Coup (February, 1993)
These are the titles accompanying three Vanity Fair cover stories featuring Princess Diana. Taking a look, it would appear that power was a major theme of Diana’s marriage to Charles. Their power struggle may have been due to differences in title, age, or life experience, and these differences may have contributed to their eventual divorce, but a question many people seem to be wondering is: how will the marriage of their son, William, to Kate be different?
Recently, "a new study" showing that facebook is increasingly given as a reason for divorce has been making its way around the internet. Does Facebook cause cheating and divorce?
In an earlier post, I began analyzing the marriage between Homer & Marge Simpson, one of America’s most enduring fictional TV couples. As mentioned then, analyzing the stability of any relationship can be done via application of the Investment Model,1 which states that commitment between partners derives from three sources: (1) satisfaction, (2) dependence (based on perceived alternatives), and (3) investment level.2 Whereas Part 1 of this series focused on Satisfaction, in Part 2 we move on to the second variable: Dependence.
A reader submitted the following question: The phrase "He's Just Not That Into You" has been popularized by a recent book and movie. I have found that if a man is not that into a woman, it doesn't work out. But if a man is really into a woman, but she's not into him, will it work out?
We don't believe in basing relationship decisions on movies or even books that aren't backed up by scientific study, so let's see what research has to say. The general question here is about equal partnership in a relationship, with both parties holding similar levels of interest (see our post on the principle of least interest). Equal interest in a relationship is a good recipe for success.
One of America’s most enduring fictional TV couples is Homer and Marge Simpson – The Simpsons have been on the air for over twenty years. Is their marriage a model example of how to make a long-term relationship endure, or is it an example of what not to do?
(reposted from drloving.net)
Dear Dr. Loving;
I am in the middle of healing and attempting on moving on right now. My boyfriend and I broke up last October, but we only decided to really move on this December. Now, we still see each other and are just now "friends" or "best friends" We text each other everyday (I text him and he replies) and we see each other and hang out or study at least 3-4 times a week. We celebrated his birthday together last week, just me and him. He still gives me a hug after we hang out when I ask him to hug me. Basically, we're still part of each other's lives except we're just simply "close friends."
Now my question is, do those signs show that he still likes me or is he just doing that because he's a guy? and is this kind of relationship healthy for me? I don't know whether I should really avoid him or just go with the flow with whatever we have. I honestly still want to get back with him, but bringing that up to him always irritates him. He said he doesn't have "time" to be in a relationship anymore. I am not sure whether there's no chance of us getting back together and I'm just fooling myself. -- Conflicted
Let’s start with your second question: No, this kind of relationship is not healthy for you.
Quick, in 10 seconds think of as many celebrities as you can who have allegedly been caught cheating. Go! Tiger Woods, Jude Law, Bill Clinton, Dave Letterman, Kobe Bryant, Eliot Spitzer, LeAnn Rimes, Hugh Grant, Bill Clinton some more, Jon Edwards, that guy Sandra Bullock was married to, and Brett Favre. Why is this so easy? Either you have an extraordinary knowledge of celebrities' love lives, or it really is a common phenomenon. So, why do they do it? Because they can.
Everyone may not be created equally when it comes to their opportunities to be unfaithful. In the case of celebrities, they have a high mate value due to their physical attractiveness, money, power, notoriety, or combination thereof. As a result, potential interlopers (i.e., home wreckers) find them highly desirable and are willing accomplices in the affair (because even D-list celebrities are still celebrities).