Entries in motivation (12)

Friday
Apr222016

Why You Have Sex Matters for Your Desire and Satisfaction

Think about a time when you engaged in sex with your partner in an effort to promote a positive outcome in your relationship, such as to feel closer to your partner or enhance intimacy in your relationship. Now think about a time when you had sex to avoid a negative outcome, such as disappointing your partner or experiencing conflict in your relationship. As it turns out, the reasons why we have sex in our relationships have important implications for how much sexual desire we have for our partners and how satisfied we are with the sexual experience and with our relationship overall. 

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Monday
Mar302015

“I’d Do Anything (I Can) For You”: Sacrifice Requires More than Just Motivation

Why do we make sacrifices for our loved ones? Research tells us that our commitment is what motivates our willingness to sacrifice. Sacrifice, after all, is really about navigating a conflict of interest. We encounter these conflicts of interest when our own personal needs and goals are incompatible with those of our partner or our relationship overall (e.g., continuing to watch our favorite Netflix show vs. helping a partner prepare for a job interview). In order to sacrifice, we have to resist the gut-level urge to act selfishly and instead focus on the long-term benefits to our relationship.

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Wednesday
Dec172014

All I Want for Christmas is You: The Science of Gift Giving

Each year around mid-November, business owners begin to lick their chops: the next month will arguably be their busiest and most profitable. Last year, for example, Americans spent over $52 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend alone.1 Although large portions of these purchases are surely self-indulging, people also make a lot of purchases to take care of gift shopping for the upcoming holiday season.

Gift giving seems to be a biologically natural phenomenon across a range of species and targets – even organisms as simple as insects feel the need to get in on the giving. Male crickets, for example, gift their sexual partners with a nutritious treat to prevent them from prematurely consuming their sperm ampulla—essentially a big bag of sperm—after mating.2 Insect gift giving extends beyond sexual partners as well: burying beetles provide their young larvae with a tasty carcass to feed on and live in.3

Similarly, humans often provide their loved ones—children, mates, or otherwise—with an assortment of presents. Thankfully, these gifts tend to be less disgusting than those given by our insect counterparts. Although you may look forward to exchanging gifts with your loved ones this time of year, it’s worth asking: is gift giving good for relationships, or is it possible for gift giving to somehow harm close relationships?

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Wednesday
Apr232014

Divide and Conquer: Having a Different Outlook from Your Partner Can Be a Good Thing

About a year ago, I made a very silly, and costly, mistake.

I forgot my backpack in a cab.

My partner James and I were on our way home from the airport. It was late, we were both tired, and I didn’t even realize what I had done until I went to check my email and didn’t have my laptop.

“Hmmm”, I said, to no one in particular. “My backpack isn’t here. I think I might have left it in the cab.”

James, who is characteristically calm and collected, proceeded to completely lose his cool. “Oh no! Oh NO!! This is awful. This is so bad! What can we do? Your passport was in there! Your laptop!! Can we call the cab company? This is terrible!”

“Yes,” I mused. “I probably should have checked for it before getting out of the cab. Perhaps there is a lost and found.”

After about an hour of searching, we had exhausted all avenues of trying to retrieve the bag. It slowly dawned on me that I was never getting my stuff back.

“I can’t believe this”, I groaned, slumped into the couch with my head in my hands. “It’s gone. My laptop. My passport. I think my lab keys were in there! This is awful.”

My partner, who was more or less over the crisis at this point, tried his best to be responsive to my sudden state of dejection and misery. But he couldn’t help but ask, “Uh, Sam - didn’t we know this an hour ago?”

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Friday
Feb082013

To the Love of My Life: Motivations for Gift-Giving on Valentine’s Day

I’ve received a gift on Valentine’s Day once in the past ten years. I wouldn’t consider my lackluster gift count so remarkable if I were perpetually single, but I have been romantically involved with someone on every single Valentine’s Day in the last decade! In contrast to my former partners, I derive a ridiculous amount of pleasure from giving people presents. Although I hardly need a reason to buy someone a gift (“It’s Tuesday? Cool; here’s the box set of Top Gear you said you wanted”), Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse for me to indulge my gift-giving fancy.

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Friday
Jan042013

Sex Lives in Second Life

I met my first boyfriend in a Sailor Moon chat room. For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon was a Japanese anime show that was “popular” in the late 1990s. My online alter ego, a character I named Hiko Aino (Japanese for “fire child of love”), was tall, graceful, and witty—everything that I, at the time, was decidedly not. After a few weeks of frequenting the chat room, I started a relationship with a guy whose online persona was a dog (yes, a dog, as in a canine…oh, the shame is endless). It’s probably worth mentioning I was thirteen at the time and wildly unpopular at school (given what I just shared, I can’t imagine why). But the chat room allowed me to reinvent myself, connect with others with similar interests, and—in short—escape the sad reality of middle school. And although the Sailor Moon chat room is probably long gone, other virtual worlds have sprung up in its wake. One such environment is the online community named Second Life.

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Friday
Dec142012

All I Want for Christmas is You: The Science of Gift Giving

Each year around mid-November, business owners begin to lick their chops: the next month will arguably be their busiest and most profitable. Last year, for example, Americans spent over $52 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend alone.1 Although large portions of these purchases are surely self-indulging, people also make a lot of purchases to take care of gift shopping for the upcoming holiday season.

Gift giving seems to be a biologically natural phenomenon across a range of species and targets – even organisms as simple as insects feel the need to get in on the giving.

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Wednesday
Sep192012

Help! I Don't Want to Lose Her

A reader recently submitted the following question:

“I had a 9 month long-distance relationship (LDR) with a girl I met on an internship abroad. Toward the end of the LDR, I felt that she changed and became uninterested and less available. I admit that I made a mistake by having my life revolve around her, which little by little killed her attraction. I also jeopardized our relationship by being manipulative. She originally said she didn’t want to break up and assured me that she loved me, but a day later she told me she wanted to break up. I was shocked and devastated.

We stayed friends for 2-3 weeks, but I was still miserable and tried to get her to change her mind by hanging out with her day and night. A few weeks later, I told her I loved her to death, which only turned her off more. I then told her I would stop contacting her, hoping that this would be the way to get her back. She replied, saying she respected my decision and still wanted to be friends.

I haven’t replied yet. I still love her very much and still have hope that staying away from her for a while and then reconnecting will show her that I have changed and she will want to be with me again. I’m afraid that I’m not doing the right thing, though. What steps should I take? How should I approach her again? I don’t want to lose her.”

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Friday
Sep072012

You’re Sexy When We Fight

Many people assume that having conflict in a relationship reduces sexual desire and relationship satisfaction. Yet, conflict may also present a constructive opportunity for partners to discuss important relationship issues, or it may simply create a general sense of arousal that transforms into sexual excitement. 

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Thursday
May242012

Does Misery Love Company?

Emotions prompt people to engage in adaptive behaviors that help them act appropriately in their current situations. When you feel fear you run away from the source of the threat; guilt motivates us to mend things following a transgression (e.g., “I’m sorry”); jealousy causes you to be on guard because your relationship partner might be poached away by a rival.

Does sadness have a social function, too? We’ve all heard that misery loves company; it’s possible that sadness prompts us to seek out social bonds. When you’re sad you might need social and emotional support. Maybe the purpose of sadness is to motivate social connections -- that “misery seeks company.”

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Wednesday
Jun292011

How Big is His…Wallet?

When do men flaunt expensive watches and exotic cars to attract mates? Do these displays work? It turns out men display luxury items when motivated by short-term mating strategies (i.e., hooking-up), and women seeking short-term mates prefer men displaying these items. However, women looking for a long-term mate (i.e., marriage material) are not impressed by the bling.

So guys, driving that Porsche signals you’re looking for a short-term mate, and that’s exactly who you’ll attract.

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Friday
Apr012011

McLying: McDonald’s Advertisement and Relationship Motivation

By now, most of you have likely seen the McDonald’s television commercial in which a husband lies in response to his wife’s question about whether Sundays are just for watching football (you mean they’re not?). 

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