Entries in love (62)
We’re all likely familiar with the idea that love is energizing; for example, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes encapsulated this notion in their 1982 single Up Where We Belong when they sang, “Love lifts us up where we belong....” But does love really physically energize us? It’s definitely possible. Love is associated with positive emotions and simply thinking about love can trigger stress responses (such as increases in cortisol) in the body, responses thought to result from arousal or passion. One intriguing thing that can happen when your body releases cortisol is that you get an accompanying rush of glucose (blood sugar) to give you extra energy. Since thinking about your romantic partner can increase stress hormones like cortisol, it may follow that you can also get a glucose boost from thinking about your partner.
It's time for a snack and you're wondering what to eat, preferably something healthy as you're trying to stay fit. There may be a simple solution; research demonstrates that the simple act of looking at a friendship-based love symbol, such as a heart, can sway your appetite toward a healthy craving (e.g. an apple). Whereas looking at a sexual-based love symbol, such as a picture of a kiss mark, could lead you to giving into the Snickers bar you’ve been thinking about. As such, it may be wise to surround yourself with some heart pictures to help curb your appetite!
Raska, D., & Nichols, B. S. (2012). Using subtle reminders of love to foster healthy snack choices. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 11(6), 432-442. doi:10.1002/cb.1381
Lauren Acri is a student at Monmouth University and a Psychology major.
She is currently a research assistant in the Gender Development Laboratory investigating the role gender plays in early childhood.
You have likely heard someone in a relationship say something like “She makes me a better person.” Alternatively, you may have also heard people say things like (with apologies to Stone Temple Pilots) “I’m half the man (or woman) I used to be.” Though these statements convey feelings of overall relationship satisfaction in the former case, or dissatisfaction in the latter case, something else important is being communicated – that romantic partners are capable of modifying our sense of who we are as individuals (i.e., sense of self).
Michelle Kaufman is a researcher that focuses on sexual behavior in the developing world. She globetrots regularly, engaging in ethnographic work along the way in order to inform the quantitative and qualitative research she conducts. Recently, Michelle visited Tanzania and investigated how people celebrate Valentine’s Day.
While in Tanzania last month, I asked everyone I met about Valentine’s Day. Do Tanzanians celebrate it, and how?
Who celebrates Valentine’s Day in Tanzania? First, Valentine’s Day is not commonly celebrated in Tanzania. Not surprisingly, it is viewed as a holiday for urban, wealthier people, and mostly for the youth. Those living in rural areas or those who are living day-to-day just trying to survive don’t give Valentine’s Day much thought (they are more focused on things like food, shelter, etc.). All my informants made it clear right away that this is a holiday for the well off with expendable income.
*Wikipedia defines “middle age” as 41 – 60, so it must be true.
Everyone in a long-term romantic relationship has a story. Each of our stories is unique. Our story begins when we were 21 (Charlotte) and 25 (Patrick). We were both coming off other long-term, serious (or so we thought) relationships, and we really didn’t know what we wanted out of a relationship or what we could offer a partner. Now, 17 years and 2 kids later, we both feel pretty lucky that things have worked out as well as they have. Back then, we had no idea what challenges we would face or how we would help each other maneuver through them. We were young and optimistic, but there was so much we didn’t know.
Due to practice and a bit of research (it doesn’t hurt that we are both researchers who study romantic relationships!), we know a little more about relationships now. However, we are still never sure what to do each Valentine’s Day (see past reflections on this matter here and here). It seems like a holiday for “new lovers,” and we’ve known each other too long to feel “new” to each other. What are those of us approaching middle age and in long-term relationships supposed to do on this holiday?
Being the nerds that we are, we decided to review some relevant research to help answer this question, and we offer a few tips in case you find yourself in a similar predicament.
How do you know if your relationship is built to last?
Maybe you’ve been there—you meet someone, you fall hard, everything seems to be going so well, and then, like a failing EKG on House, things slowly...die. You see each other less. Texts linger unreturned. If you’re lucky, you have “the talk.” If you’re not so lucky, you just wonder what’s going on for a few months. Ugh.
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.
The key to decoding your relationship’s future could be sitting in your pocket right now. It’s not your wallet, or those breath mints, or that crumpled lottery ticket. It’s your cell phone.
Similar to how a runny nose and sore throat can quickly let us know we have a cold, the right kind of information about our romantic relationships can tell us a lot about their future potential. For example, researchers know that a couple’s level of love, commitment, and “positive illusions” are powerful predictors of future relationship success (see my last article here), whereas the number of fights couples have and their respective personality traits are surprisingly less important (see more here.). I call these “predictive elements” -- i.e., the punchy details that psychologists use to predict the quality or future outcome of relationships (basically, whether or not a couple will live happily ever after). Although we cannot rely on these elements to foresee the precise outcome of any particular relationship, it is safe to think of them as useful clues. Predictive elements are like the weather report from a station you trust. If they say there’s a 90% chance of rain, then you should probably pack an umbrella.
Can you accurately predict how bad you’d feel if your relationship breaks up? To study this question, researchers asked undergraduates to predict how they’d feel if their current relationship ended. Then the research team tracked the undergraduates over several months and waited for those relationships to break-up. The researchers then asked the same participants how they actually felt now that their relationships were over. Turns out people overestimate how bad they will feel following a break-up, especially those who are in love. So if you’re staying in a relationship because you think the break-up will be awful and devastating, you should realized that it may not be so bad. This is especially true if you’re in a bad or abusive relationship (read more here).
Eastwick, P. W., Finkel, E. J., Krishnamurti, T., & Loewenstein, G. (2008). Mispredicting distress following romantic breakup: Revealing the time course of the affective forecasting error. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 800-807. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.07.001
I love making up a good acronym as much as the next relationship researcher, and today I’ve invented one about the top three predictors of a successful relationship: PICL*.
The New York Times recently covered two very different match-making stories that unfolded in Beijing (read the article here). In one, a wealthy bachelor nicknamed “Mr. Big” paid more than half a million dollars for a squad of “love hunters” to scour the country looking for his vision of the ideal wife: a milky-skinned virgin eighteen years his junior. In the second, Ms. Yu, the desperate mother of an unmarried forty-year-old man, spent her days making fruitless trips to the local match-making park. (Yes, there really are parks for parents to meet other parents and set their mutual children up on blind dates—more on this below.) She had been searching for a daughter-in-law for four years, but her son’s “pickiness” and meager financial prospects quashed every lead she could generate.
“Marriage is mostly just firewood, rice, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea.” -Chinese proverb
Although China’s rising ‘love culture’ has borrowed many foreign ideas, such as teen dating and Valentine’s Day (see my last article), China’s romantic relationships hardly mirror Western ones. Young Chinese are usually free to choose their spouses, but they are not free to linger long in singlehood. If a woman hits her late 20s without a husband, everyone calls her a shèngnǚ (剩女) or “leftover woman” — a label invented by the government in 2007. Faced with mounting social pressure from parents and colleagues, today’s Chinese singles commonly marry because it is “time,” not because they are in love.
I'm currently in a long-term relationship where, after a difficult year of dealing with depression, my partner has claimed to have fallen "out" of love. However, she tells me that she is committed to trying to make things work. Is this feeling really something that can be regained over time? Or is now a point where one has to make the decision to love the person they're with?
Thank you for your question. Your experience is not uncommon, and the answer lies in a number of articles about love that have previously appeared on Science of Relationships (e.g., My partner has been less affectionate lately, what gives?). Love is defined in so many different ways—it sounds as if your partner does love you, just not in the way that she used to.
As she outlines in the article, in a new relationship, our partner constantly surprises us because so much about him or her is a mystery. This uncertainty is exciting and often accompanied by high levels of desire and passion. Social psychologists refer to early stage of a relationship as passionate love – an intense period of longing and desire for a partner that is common in new relationships but tends to fade after about two years. Over time, our partners become more familiar and predictable, and we shift to a more companionate love stage. Although this stage typically involves a deep connection, it is less intense and often feels more stable and comfortable.
Wanna talk about your love life? People in China do. For the past year, I’ve been living in Shenzhen and working on a collection of true stories about love and marriage experiences since the rise of Communist China. Far from being viewed positively, romantic love often generates suspicion among the older generations and confusion among the young. This brief Valentine’s Day story, told to me by a charming twenty-two year old Buddhist woman, illuminates the clash of old and new ideas about love:
“The first time a boy kissed me, I was fifteen, and it was Valentine’s Day. He pretended to have a school question to ask, but instead he declared that he liked me. He pressed a rose into my hand, which I tried to refuse, stammering that I didn’t like him at all. I turned to go, but he pulled me close and kissed me! I wrestled my arm away and raced into my house, very flustered. After that, I hated him, thinking he was a morally rotten boy. I had never seen anybody kiss or hug in my hometown, not even married people, and nobody said, “I love you” either. I just wanted to cultivate friendships and avoid loving anyone, so I never talked to that boy again. If people in my hometown ever kissed like young lovers do in the cities, everyone would think they were degenerates, even today.”
If you had a chance to write a short description of your feelings for your partner on Valentine’s Day, what would you say? After all, proclaiming your feelings for your partner is the reason for the (Valentine’s Day) season. In the past, newspapers gave readers the opportunity to post a Valentine’s Day announcement (some newspapers like the Telegraph in the UK still offer this opportunity). This doesn’t happen so much any more (damn you internet!), but regardless of the medium, it isn’t everyday that you get to be nosy and see what people have to say about their relationships. That’s where relationship science comes in…
My mom (who I live with) thinks I am falling in love, but I am not so sure. Being the scientist that I am, I constantly deliberate on what exactly love is. Love is such a general term that people use to describe so many feelings—I find the application of the word “love” to particular relationships to be very subjective—for example, although she may think I am in love, I actually might just be infatuated.
Given my mother’s unshakable opinion, I reflected on a recent weekend get-away with The Consultant, a man I have been dating for several months, to think about whether this is love or infatuation.