A recent Twitter post by Nathan Fielder asked his followers to text their partners and say “I haven’t been fully honest with you.” If that isn’t anxiety provoking enough, they also weren’t supposed to respond to any reply sent by their partner for one hour. Not only is this a brilliant comedic premise, but it also provides a great example of an “interpersonal dilemma.” Interpersonal dilemmas are situations where people face competing motives such that they can either respond in a way that harms the relationship or in a way that benefits the relationship.
Entries in security (7)
“Stay Close to Me” – Attachment, Terror Management, and Symbolic Immortality in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I recently watched the last film in the Harry Potter series on DVD (after seeing it twice in theaters last year; yes I’m a huge fan), and I was reminded of a powerful moment near the end of the story that highlights the connection between close relationships and the metaphysical world (e.g., life/death, spirituality).
(Fair warning before reading further: there are plot spoilers below).
Towards the end of Deathly Hallows, Harry realized that he must die in order to conquer Voldemort once and for all (it was necessary for Harry to die because his body contained a piece of Voldemort’s soul, which must be destroyed). At that moment, Harry experienced an awareness of his own looming death, or what social psychologists refer to as “mortality salience.”
A new set of studies reveals that the content of our sexual fantasies is influenced by feelings of relationship insecurity. In three experiments, college undergraduates were primed to feel attachment security or anxiety. To do this, participants thought about a past relationship in which they felt secure or anxious (Study 1), or they viewed a photo of a mother either gazing at her child (security) or turning her back on her child (anxiety; Studies 2 and 3). Afterward, participants were asked to report on one of their current sexual fantasies. The anxiety prime produced fantasies in which individuals viewed themselves as more distant from and hostile toward their partners compared to the fantasies described following the security prime. More specifically, the anxiety prime was linked to fantasies that involved sex without emotion or romance, as well as fantasies that involved themes of aggression. These findings suggest that when we feel insecure about our relationships, we subconsciously alter the content of our sexual fantasies as a way of protecting the self from further feelings of rejection. In other words, when we are feeling insecure, we may use our fantasies to create a psychological barrier between ourselves and our partners in order to protect our self-esteem.
To learn more about the details of this study, check out this article on The Psychology of Human Sexuality.
Birnbaum, G. E., Simpson, J. A., Weisberg, Y. J., Barnea, E., & Assulin-Simhon, Z. (in press). Is it my overactive imagination? The effects of contextually activated attachment insecurity on sexual fantasies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Ever dream about your significant other? What was the dream like? Was it happy or painful?
For my dissertation project (published in Attachment & Human Development), I wanted to study the dreams people have about their romantic partners, and how those dreams relate to secure or insecure attachment.
Relationship researchers Drs. Benjamin Karney and Thomas Bradbury discuss the basic human need for admiration, validation, love, and security (from the PSB series This Emotional Life). Read more about fundamental needs and relationships here.
Do you enjoy giving Valentine’s Day gifts? Or is it an unpleasant obligation? Your feelings about giving presents depends on your attachment style. Across two studies, secure people reported that giving gifts to partners was more pleasurable and not done out of obligation. Conversely, people high in avoidance experienced less pleasure, whereas those high in anxiety felt more obligated to give gifts, possibly because they feared losing their partners when their relationships weren’t going well.
Nguyen, H. P., & Munch, J. M. (2011). Romantic gift giving as a chore or pleasure: The effects of attachment orientations on gift giving perceptions. Journal of Business Research, 64, 113-118.
I don’t want to oversell this, but Swingers is one of the greatest movies of all time! I was recently re-watching this classic and realized that not only is it hilarious, but it is also a storehouse for some pretty sage relationship advice. Seriously, how else would we know that the industry standard for a callback is three days (“two's enough not to look anxious, but three days is kind of money”) or that no matter how much you want them to, ex-partners won’t come back until you really forget them?