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Entries in journal of social and personal relationships (49)

Thursday
Dec182014

Moral Boundaries in Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 41

Consider the following (probably fictional) scenario, described in detail by pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman1 and paraphrased here: Jack and Jane are in a happy romantic relationship for 2 years. One day Jack receives an invitation from another woman living in his building to watch her masturbate in her apartment (with absolutely no physical contact and no emotional intimacy). Intrigued, he goes to her apartment to watch her masturbate, then returns to his room and goes to sleep. Jack believes this episode to be weird/strange, but not unethical. He innocently mentions it to Jane, who upon hearing this, becomes extremely upset and ends the relationship, cutting off all contact with Jack. 

What do you think about this situation? Did Jack do anything unethical? Is accepting an invitation to watch someone masturbate (while in a relationship with someone else) a moral violation?

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Thursday
Dec112014

How Relationships Change Us Over Time: Relationship Matters Podcast 40

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out! In this edition, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Kevin McIntyre (Trinity University) discusses research regarding how being in a relationship changes who we are as a person.  

Together with Dr. Bent Mattingly (Ursinus College) and Dr. Gary Lewandowski (Monmouth University), McIntyre studied the different ways people change when in a relationship. Specifically, they looked at four different types of changes we experience: (a) Self-expansion refers to people gaining positive personal traits from being in a relationship (e.g., gaining a new hobby one is pleased about), (s) self-adulteration refers to gaining negative personal traits (e.g., gaining a new bad habit one doesnt want), (3) self-contraction refers to losing positive personal traits (e.g., discontinuing a favorite activity), and (4) self-pruning reflects losing negative personal traits (e.g., losing a bad habit one is pleased to be rid of). 

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Thursday
Dec042014

How Sweet Food Affects Our Romantic Interests: Relationship Matters Podcast 39

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out! In this installment, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dongning Ren (Purdue University) discusses her fascinating research on how the taste of food affects romantic perceptions.

People commonly refer to those with whom they are romantically involved as “sweetie”, “honey”, or “sugar.” It’s a nice sentiment, but could there be more underlying such labels  – i.e., are these words linked to our actual romantic perceptions? Ren, along with colleagues Kenneth Tan and Ximena Arriaga (both from Purdue University) and Kai Qin Chan (Raboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands), conducted three experiments to test the hypothesis that tasting something sweet increases the extent to which individuals judge relationships and potential partners positively.

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Thursday
Nov132014

Stress & Conflict in Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 38

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out. The podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, brings you the latest from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this edition, Dr. Gwendolyn Seidman (Albright College) discusses how the ways we view our partner affects how our partner reacts to conflict.

Seidman and her colleague, Dr. Christopher Burke (Lehigh University), tracked 264 couples over five weeks during which one member of the couple (i.e., the studier) was studying for the Bar Examination (a highly stressful test lawyers must pass to have the right to practice law in a given jurisdiction).

The research team was especially interested in how the studiers reacted to conflict given the high amount of stress they experienced while preparing for the Bar. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know whether the way partners viewed the studiers – i.e., did the partner see the studier more or less positively than the studier viewed him- or herself -- influenced how the studier felt and reacted when conflict occurred within the relationship.

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Thursday
Oct302014

Oxytocin – The Love Hormone: Relationship Matters Podcast 37

The new season of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast has begun! Hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, “Relationship Matters” brings you the latest from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this season’s premier, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (Brigham Young University) discusses her research on the link between relationship quality and oxytocin.

Researchers have long been interested in the hormone oxytocin’s role in inducing labor in mothers and in promoting healthy bonding between mothers and newborn infants. Over the past decade, however, oxytocin’s role in adult romantic functioning has received increasing empirical attention. Some studies find that couples with higher relationship quality show higher oxytocin levels. Explanations for this association include (a) higher levels of oxytocin lead to lower levels of disagreement, (b) lower levels of disagreement lead to higher level of oxytocin, (c) both a and b, or (d) none of the above – some other variable is responsible. Interestingly, other studies find that those higher in distress have increased oxytocin – perhaps as a function of trying to promote or recapture relationship harmony. 

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Monday
Sep222014

Break Up Kindly With Compassionate Love

No matter how you slice it, breakups are not much fun -- someone usually ends up getting hurt. Wouldn’t it be great if ending a relationship with someone could be a little less painful? It turns out that a dose of compassionate love can help ease the pain. 

When you think about “love” in romantic relationships, you probably are imaging what researchers refer to as passionate love (read more about passionate love here and here), the intense, desire-filled, longing (and obsession) for the object of your affection. In addition to passion, however, another ‘type’ of love is also important in close relationships: compassionate love. Compassionate love refers to the concern and care people have for the well-being of others, especially when those others are suffering; compassion love promotes support, understanding, and tenderness.1 Clearly you can experience compassionate love for a romantic partner, but it can also be directed toward friends, family, and strangers. And when it comes to breakups, you can also direct compassionate love toward a soon-to-be ex-partner.

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Wednesday
Aug132014

Because I Said So…At Least Until You Say So: Parental Authority Over College-Aged Kids

Parents of college students regularly find themselves in quite a bind – they have to figure out that delicate balance between being an authority figure while simultaneously respecting their kids’ increasing independence. This is because typical college students, as well as other individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, are commonly referred to as emerging adults -- those in this age range do not entirely view themselves as adults nor do they view themselves as kids. As a result, parents of college students have to somehow be a parent to someone who may no longer live under the same roof, but is typically not living entirely independently and grappling with all of the complications that a full-fledged adult life entails either (not to take anything away from the huge responsibilities that many college students deal with every day). Simply put: When is it appropriate for parents of college students to put their foot (or feet) down and provide direction vs. hold back and let their kids make their own mistakes? Balance this conundrum with the knowledge that parents’ aging children actually like their parents more when they maintain appropriate boundaries, and you have a recipe for quite the pickle.

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Wednesday
Jul092014

Opting Out of Parenthood: How Couples Navigate the Decision to Not Have Children

You likely heard this song at some point in your childhood (though likely with different names, depending on who was being teased that day): “John and Jane sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage.” These types of songs reflect the social pressure couples experience as their relationships develop. Even if society doesn’t assume that babies naturally come after marriage, a couple’s family members may drop some not-so-subtle hints about their desire for a new baby in the family. For many, getting married, starting a family, and having children isn’t a choice, but rather the default option, or more simply put, “just what people do”1 But what about couples who make the conscious decision to not have children? Given the various pressures and expectations that conspire to encourage procreation, opting out of parenthood is a big decision for relationship partners to make.  

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Friday
Jun272014

Can You Give Too Much Emotional Support? Relationship Matters Podcast 35

In the 35th installment of Relationship Matters, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Eran Bar-Kalifa (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) talks about his research on how receiving emotional support from one’s partner comes with downsides.

Bar-Kalifa, together with Professor Eshkol Rafaeli (Bar-Ilan University & Columbia University), studied couples’ relationships intensively for about a month. The researchers predicted that receiving less support than expected on a given day would be associated with worsened moods on those days. And this was indeed the case. Interestingly, however, they also predicted (and found) that receiving emotional support beyond what was expected on a given day had no additional positive emotional benefit for that day.

How can it be that providing emotional support beyond what is expected has no positive benefit?

For the full story, listen to the podcast here.

Check out the original article here (courtesy of SAGE publications).

Friday
Jun132014

Does How Couples Meet Matter? Relationship Matters Podcast #34

In the 34th installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Sharon Sassler (Cornell University) discusses her recent research on how couples meet.

Sassler, and co-author Amanda Jayne Miller (University of Indianapolis) interviewed 62 cohabitating couples about how the couple members met and how much they think others support their relationships. The researchers were particularly interested in whether social class played a role in any link between how couples meet and their perceived relationship support.

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Friday
May302014

Can a Romantic Partner Help Improve Attitudes Toward Members of a Different Race? Relationship Matters Podcast 33

In the 33rd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Keith Welker (Wayne State University) discusses how romantic partners can help increase feelings of compassion and understanding toward those with different racial backgrounds.

The research extends on other studies using a fast friends procedure, a technique that leads people to disclose a lot of personal (but appropriate) information in a short period of time.  The procedure is quite effective at increasing understanding between people and increasing opportunity for friendship after the brief encounter.

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Tuesday
May132014

Consensual Non-Monogamy and Attachment Avoidance: Relationship Matters Podcast 32

In the 32nd installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Amy Moors (University of Michigan) discusses her research on consensual non-monogamy (an umbrella term that refers to polyamory, swinging, and open-relationships) – or relationships where partners do not have an expectation of complete sexual exclusivity.

Dr. Moors points out that our society generally views monogamy as the ideal form of partnering within romantic relationships and stigmatizes consensual non-monogamous relationships. Despite such a stigma, however, a sizeable minority of people (3 to 5% in her samples) engage in non-monogamous relationships and report high levels of relationship satisfaction.

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Friday
Apr252014

We Suck. I Suck. Let’s Do Shots!: When Do Relationships Affect Drinking Behaviors?

As a relationship researcher and college instructor I often have conversations with students who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships. More often than not, I direct or escort students to our local campus counseling and mental health center. But there are times when students’ levels of distress don’t require professional intervention; they just want to learn more about relationships so they can better understand their own. I typically take this opportunity to remind students that conflict and ‘downtimes’ in relationships are common; it’s very difficult for two people whose lives are intertwined to not occasionally be unhappy with their partners or relationships. Students, in turn, often take the opportunity to remind me that just because what they are going through is common doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck (I jest; I fully recognize this fact). This is an important point --- not getting along with somebody we care about is not fun, and can often be quite frustrating. But is relationship conflict more frustrating for some than others?  And do some people try to cope with or otherwise deal with their relationship difficulties in an unhealthy manner?  According to recently published research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the answer to both questions is “yes”.

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Friday
Apr042014

Which Couples Can Fight Intensely and Still Reach Satisfying Resolutions? Relationship Matters Podcast #31

In the 31st installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Keith Sanford (Baylor University) discusses his recent research on how relationship conflict intensity affects whether or not the couple resolves the topic of that conflict.

The researchers asked 734 couples to focus on a recent conflict and answer questions regarding the types of negative behaviors they engaged in, the intensity of the fight, as well as any type of caring or “soft” emotions they might have used during the disagreement. Couples were also asked about how they currently felt about their relationship, including their current level of ongoing discord, when that discord peaked, and whether they had engaged in any attempts to repair the relationship.

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Friday
Mar212014

Can We Keep Passion Alive? Relationship Matters Podcast #30

Kicking off the new season, the 30th installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, brings you the latest science from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, translated into practical and applicable knowledge that you can apply to your own relationships. In this season’s premier, Dr. Virgil Sheets (Indiana State University) discusses his recent research on how to keep passionate love alive (and well) in long-term relationships.

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Friday
Feb212014

Increased Commitment: A Curious Side Effect of Your Partner’s Wandering Eye

Close your eyes and imagine your girlfriend is working late with an attractive coworker that you suspect she has a crush on. Or think about your husband hanging out at his high school reunion with an old flame that he has never gotten over. Such thoughts probably don’t make you feel good, and you may be anxious or upset knowing that your partner was tempted by the fruit of another (or what researchers refer to as “attending to an attractive alternative partner”). It may seem like common sense that such suspicions of a partner’s potential betrayal undermine the quality of a relationship. If you think your partner has his or her eye on someone else, that would hurt your relationship, right? Well, relationship science say otherwise — it may not be that simple. New research suggests that suspicions of partners’ temptations can actually increase commitment in relationships.

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Monday
Feb032014

Making Friends: Do Their Sexual Experiences Matter?

 

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. 

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Monday
Jan062014

Stuck in the Middle: When Kids Feel Caught Between Parents

 

My wife and I don’t always agree on the best way to parent our two kids. We sometimes have different ideas about how to broaden their palates, limit screen time (here’s hoping one of those freakish talking animals turns on Diego very soon), and how to blend our respective family holiday traditions. When we’re grappling with these and other parenting issues, we engage in what researchers call co-parental communication, which generally refers to how she and I communicate with one another and our children when parenting.

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Friday
Dec202013

Transcending Shame and Seeking Forgiveness: Relationship Matters Podcast 29

In the 29th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Blake Riek (Calvin College) discusses the important distinction between guilt and shame and gives advice on how to transcend both feelings and move toward forgiveness.

The research, conducted with Lindsey Root Luna (Hope College) and Chelsea Schnabelrauch (Kansas State University) is unique in that the research team studied forgiveness from the perspective of the person who engages in wrongdoing (i.e., the transgressor). In other words, the researchers wanted to know what happens when one individual wrongs another, but rather than focus on the ‘victim,’ the researchers focused on the transgressor. To do so, the researchers followed 166 individuals over time, collecting feelings of guilt and shame, and forgiveness-seeking behaviors. As a result, the researchers were able to test whether guilt and/or shame affected the likelihood of transgressors to seek forgiveness from their victims.

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Friday
Dec062013

The Benefits of Practicing Compassionate Love in Our Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 28

In the 28th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Professor Harry Reis (University of Rochester) discusses how and why everyday acts of compassionate love benefit our relationships.

In collaboration with Michael Maniaci and Ronald Rogge (also of the Univ. of Rochester), the researchers asked 175 newlywed couples to complete daily diaries for a period of two weeks. In each daily diary participants reported on their own compassionate acts as well as their perception of their partners’ compassionate acts.

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