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Entries in relationship development (14)


Could You Be Loved, and Give Love? Cultural Differences in Pursuing a Partner

Michelle Kaufman is a researcher who focuses on sexual behavior in the developing world. She globe trots regularly, conducting ethnographic work all along the way in order to inform both the quantitative and qualitative research she conducts. Recently, Michelle visited 3 countries in 1 trip and did a cross-cultural comparison.

My last international romp spanned across 2 continents and 3 countries—Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Since I’ve written about each of these countries individually, this time I decided to do a cross-cultural comparison in my ethnographic fieldwork. In each country, I wanted to look at how men and women show their romantic interest in a potential partner.

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Stranded In Barcelona: The Ups and Downs of Passion

A few years ago, I fell madly in love with a guy shortly before he left for a study abroad program in Barcelona. So I did what any rational person in my position would do: I made plans to stay with him for a month, bought a plane ticket, and spent every possible moment chatting with him via Skype until my long-awaited departure. We both grew increasingly excited about my arrival, and when I finally showed up at the front door of his hostel, things were, well, intense (in a can’t-keep-our-hands-to-ourselves kind of way). Things continued this way for a couple of days. But soon we realized that we didn’t have as much to say to each other as we thought we did, and the passion quickly dissipated. Within a week of my arrival, he dumped me, and I found myself stranded in Barcelona. (If that’s not the title of a country song, it should be). 

So, what happened? Where did all of that passion go?

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Too Fast Too Soon?

Q: I just got dumped by my girlfriend a couple weeks ago. It was a short relationship (3 months) which started out slow but gradually ramped up in intensity as we started spending more time together. Things seemed to be going great right up until she dumped me. We were making plans together for the future - trips we were going to take, dates we were going to go on. She seemed very much as "into" the relationship as I was - sending loving texts and buying me gifts. Then all of a sudden, as if overnight, she got cold and distant, and then she dumped me the next day.

I was totally blindsided and heartbroken by her actions. How can someone seem so into you in one instant and decide they don't want it in the next? And how come this hurts just as much as a breakup of a long term relationship, even though we were only together for a few months?

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Should We Live Together? A Question Worth Asking

Many people believe that living together before marriage is a good idea because it helps couples test out whether they are a good fit and ready for marriage. Is he too messy? Does he leave the toilet seat open? Is her mother too involved? Is she a neat-freak? Can we manage finances well enough together? Many think that cohabiting will teach us something important about each other that we need to know before tying the knot. It’s counterintuitive then that some research indicates the living together before marriage, particularly before engagement, is associated with higher risks for divorce.

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Too Romantic and Too Short: Why Relationships from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette Fail

Now that Emily has chosen Jef over Arie in the most recent Bachelorette, the question is whether their relationship will make it to the altar and beyond. After fifteen bachelors and eight bachelorettes, so far there has only been one successful marriage (Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter). Although three other couples, including Jef and Emily, are currently engaged, and one bachelor married the runner-up instead of the winner, most of the bachelors and bachelorettes actually found love elsewhere. Why might this series, which is supposed to help people find love, fail so miserably at producing long-term relationships?

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Fact Checking Cohabitation and Marriage

Recently, people in the mainstream media have been talking about how cohabitation (living with a partner out of wedlock) impacts marriage, beginning with a New York Times article, continuing on (here and here) and The Daily Beast. The question at hand concerns the so-called “cohabitation effect,” or the idea that the mere act of living together causes less marriage satisfaction later on and increases the likelihood that those marriages will end in divorce.

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Online Dating: The Paradox of Choice

As discussed in a previous post, some relationship scientists seriously doubt the effectiveness of the algorithms used by online dating sites to match people to potential partners. Even if these algorithms do not hold the key to everlasting love, online dating sites provide access to more dating partners than you can shake a stick at. If you are looking for love, having more options is better, right?

Not exactly. Researchers have demonstrated that although we like having more options when making a decision, we are ultimately less satisfied with our choice when we have a larger, as opposed to smaller, number of options.

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"Soul Meets Body" - How Music and Relationships are Connected

As noted by my colleagues in previous articles, similarity between potential romantic partners predicts feelings of attraction and love. “Similarity” can include things like similar backgrounds (e.g., nationality), physical features, personality, hobbies, attitudes, and beliefs.

What about music preferences?

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A Proposal, Brick by Brick

An amazing proposal in Lego, by Mr. Walter Thompson. Learn more about this video here.


Attachment: A "Bittersweet Symphony" or "Unwritten"?

"Just how stable are attachment styles?" This question is raised every year by my students. Some ask because they are curious if attachment styles are similar to personality traits. Others wonder if attachment styles imply destiny with their relationship outcomes. Yet others are certain that attachment styles are flexible and malleable, changing with context, situations, or partners. Others hope that attachment can be changed, or even overwritten entirely. It turns out these questions aren't that different from the ones attachment theorists have debated for decades.

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How to Not “Get Played”

Recently, a female friend asked me: “Can you write an article on how to not get played?” When I asked for further clarification on the word “played,” she defined it as something to the effect of “used, lied to, and/or cheated on.” I’ll try my best.

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"It's Time" for Marriage Equality

SofR celebrates the transitions that make relationships: A really cool video from our friends Down Under.

Happiness vs. Time in Relationships


Self-Expansion: Personal Growth through Relationships

In the past few months, research conducted by my friend and fellow contributor Dr. Gary Lewandowski and his colleagues has been featured across a number of media outlets, including the New York Times and CNN. He's much too modest to promote his own work, so I'll take the liberty of posting about it.

Click here for a link to the NYT piece about his work and here's a recent interview with Dr. Lewandowski on CNN, although he has to share time with a "non-relationship scientist" (trying to be nice here).

What I love about this work is that it is has much empirical support, and also that it is tied into the larger psychological literature on self-identity.

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