Entries in relationships (9)


We Are Family: Familism May Promote Relationship Quality in Latinos but Not Other Cultural Groups

Familism refers to the sense of connection individuals have with their family. In a nutshell, those with a high degree of familism prioritize their family relationships above other relationships (and the self) and view family members as the first providers of support during stressful situations. Although this family-first focus may sound great, early research suggested that familism may actually undermine individual outcomes by creating a sense of burden (to the family) and limiting individuals’ abilities to have a diverse support network (which is generally a good thing). Put another way, familism runs counter to the traditional “American” value of independence.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships the study authors argued that a more culturally-sensitive view of familism may highlight the value of this connection to family, perhaps particularly for Latinos, whose cultural norms prioritize “family relationships before the self with warmth, closeness, and support”. As a result, familism may promote individuals’ relationship quality, romantic or otherwise,  by increasing how comfortable people are with feeling close to others as well as how much support they perceive from others (two important markers of relationship quality). Moreover, the authors suggested that the effect of familism on support may occur because familism promotes the value of close connections with others (rather than independence), thus resulting in lower levels of attachment avoidance.

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Five Years Later...Happy Anniversary to Us

Five years ago we flipped the switch on an idea. We believed that people intuitively recognize the importance of relationships and want to learn what science has to say about what makes relationships work. From these beliefs our slogan was born: “the important things in life deserve data.”   

In the five years (!) following our launching Science of Relationships in 2011, it’s been very clear that millions of people agree with us. The site has been more successful than we ever thought, and without a marketing budget our articles have been read nearly 6.5 million times to date. That type of reach would not be possible without our expert contributors’ generosity. Each of them selflessly gives their time and scientific knowledge to help our mission of sharing relationship science with the world. 

Essentially, for 5 years we’ve proudly run a website that makes no money, but does a whole lot of good (in our humble opinion) for relationships and the world. And that’s what counts.

Science of Relationships has opened some doors and given us an opportunity to do something we sketched out years before the website was born. A longstanding idea we’ve had on the backburner (since we all have day jobs as professors) was to create a way for people to evaluate their relationships in a scientifically-informed way. After years of not having time to bring the concept to fruition, the phone rang.

On the other end was a television producer from Hollywood who had a similar vision. With the increasing popularity of online dating, there were plenty of apps dedicated to trying to help people find love, but none of these technological tools helped users make sense of their relationships. How do you know if you’re in a good relationship? How do you avoid settling? Are you wasting your time, or should you spend more time to make a good thing better? Ultimately, how do you decide if you should you stay or you should go?

After nearly 2 years of conference calls, focus groups, meetings in Los Angeles, concept development, writing and rewriting questions, data collection, data analysis, deciding on a name, and conversations with our uber-team of programmers, last week it all became a reality.

StayGo™ is the first app for evaluating your relationship across several science-based dimensions. Best of all, StayGo™ is completely free.

Want to learn more about relationships? You can download it here.

Love doesn’t have to be blind.


When and Why We iSnoop on Others

Even in the best relationships, individuals may find themselves lacking information about specific relationship partners (romantic or otherwise). For example, as we’ve discussed previously, anxiously attached partners are more likely to Facebook stalk their partners in an attempt to alleviate anxiety and (hopefully) confirm their partners’ undying devotion. Such findings suggest that individuals use the internet as a means to cope with their own desires to learn more about another.  

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Cleaning Up from the Holiday Season

Maybe you spent months in a race against the clock to produce the most memorable Christmas gift your spouse has ever received.  Maybe you scrimped and saved every spare dime to reward your children with the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets or items of clothing.  Maybe you simply procrastinated and completed your holiday shopping in a matter of hours before the “big” night with the family!  Regardless of your preparation, or lack thereof…it’s over.  Now that we have embraced and celebrated the holiday season, for many of us our thoughts turn to the “clean up” of the holiday fury.  By clean up, I don’t mean the laborious task of taking down the tree, or uncovering the mantle from the holiday stockings that were hung quite meticulously only hours after carving the Thanksgiving turkey and ham.  By clean up, I mean the often inevitable crash that comes after the anticipation and the climax of the holiday season. 

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Dear Miley, You’re Doing it Wrong

Dear Miley, you’re doing it wrong. No, I’m obviously not referring to the music world, as you seem to have that figured out. I’m not even referring to the physical act of writhing around on a metal wrecking ball, although that does bring up some hygienic concerns. Rather, as a relationship scientist, I’m referring to your love life. The lyrics of your song, Wrecking Ball, have been rolling around my head since you released it last year. And now, after almost a full year of marriage, I think I know where you went wrong. The trouble lies in your demolition-style approach. 

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Watching a Movie with My Girlfriend

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Is Sex Allowed to Be Important in a Romantic Relationship?

A recent article in Wall Street Journal (WSJ) by Elizabeth Bernstein, How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex? What Happens When He Says 'More' and She Says 'No', created some controversy. The article focused on Chris and Afton Mower, a heterosexual couple who share the details of their previously sexless marriage. At one point in their relationship, the couple went one year without having sex. The husband, Chris, desired more sex, whereas his wife, Afton, had no interest in sex.

Over time, after communicating and reading a self-help book together, Chris and Afton revived their sexual relationship and now both report being satisfied with their sex life. In the article, Bernstein referenced our research on sexual communal strength (discussed here) to suggest that at times a person may prioritize their romantic partner’s sexual needs over their own preferences and that this focus on a partner’s needs can be beneficial (not only for the partner whose needs are being met, but also for the partner meeting the needs).1 Bernstein's article caused quite a stir in the media; a number of news outlets, including JezebelThe Week, and New York Magazine, published responses. Critics rebuked the article for what they perceived as its focus on the “man’s perspective” and questioned the depression, weight gain and emotional distress that Chris linked to his sexual rejection. Based on some of the responses, it was also controversial to suggest that a person has some responsibility in an ongoing romantic relationship to meet their partner’s sexual needs, perhaps especially when it is the male partner who desires more sex than his wife.

After reading these responses I began to wonder whether (and for whom) we allow sex to be important in a relationship.

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Lyrics of Love and Relationships: Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons is a British folk rock band who are Grammy Award nominees, and Billboard Music Award Winners. Read more here.

Album: Sigh No More

[click here to purchase Sigh No More]

Sigh No More (pic)

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be.

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Yes, Smithsonian.com, We Will Be Your Valentine

SofR's Dr. Jennifer Harman, our book, and SofR are featured in the Smithsonian's blog. Click the link below for the full article.

Next stop....The New Yorker.

What's Science Got to Do With It?