Entries in seinfeld (5)

Thursday
Aug132015

Seinfeld and Similarity – Relevant Relationship Advice From the 90s

With my favorite shows on summer hiatus, I’ve found myself reverting back to a few of my trusty standbys.  Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of re-watching the comic genius and relationship hijinks of Seinfeld. Sure, I know all of the lines and can anticipate all of the plot twists, but there’s something pleasingly familiar about my sitcom pals from the good ol’ days. While happily meandering through memory lane, it occurred to me that it has been over twenty-five years since Seinfeld first aired. To highlight the show’s continued relevance, I thought I might remind you of (if you are my age) or introduce you to (if you are younger) some of my favorite relationship “facts” that have stood the test of time. In this article, I will draw from the “The Invitations” episode from 1996 to highlight the role of similarity in attraction. 

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Thursday
Dec132012

Regifting: A Gift-Giver’s Hidden Shame

Ever get a gift that was so perfect for you that you actually already had the gifted item? Or maybe you received a gift that was so awful that you wondered if the giver knew you at all. (Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but what were they thinking?!) These are the times when gift receipts and generous store return policies come in handy. But if exchanges aren’t allowed, we may find ourselves contemplating “regifting” (i.e., giving the unwanted gift to someone else), especially with National Regifting Day approaching on the Thursday before Christmas. We may feel ashamed or opportunistic, however, about presenting someone with a gift we didn’t want ourselves in light of the distinct social taboo against the practice of regifting. (Remember Elaine’s indignant “He recycled this gift! He’s a regifter!” on Seinfeld?). Is this worry justified?

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Tuesday
Apr172012

Dating Tips from George Costanza's Playbook – Lesson 1: Reactance

Hopefully you still remember George Costanza, the eccentric best friend of Jerry Seinfeld. In thinking back over the nine years we spent getting to know him, perhaps the most intriguing thing about him was his uncanny success in the dating department. Described by his own friends as “a short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man,” George clearly lacked the typical characteristics of heartthrob. So what was his secret when it came to landing a lady?

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Tuesday
Nov152011

“Breaking Up is Like Knocking Over a Coke Machine”

Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can't do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.

-Jerry Seinfeld (to Elaine, regarding her relationship with Puddy)

Most research on relationship stability considers breakup to be a finite state or endpoint: a relationship is either over or it’s not; there is no middle ground. As you might have experienced, however, breakup can often be a process in which some couples get back together and then breakup again (press Alt+Ctl+Del to reboot and do it all again...and again).

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Saturday
Feb262011

Who Has the Upper Hand? Power, Sex, and Seinfeld

A recent article on Slate.com, by sociologist Mark Regnerus at The University of Texas at Austin, discusses how males are becoming underrepresented on many college campuses and in the workplace, and are thus likely to call the shots in their (heterosexual) relationships when it comes to sex. The author’s basic argument, which draws from his book entitled Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying, is that good men are becoming hard to find. High-quality men are are in short supply, and, as a result, in high demand. Therefore, they are able to exert more power over women in their relationships. Female partners need to go along with guys' wishes because there are plenty of female fish in the sea for the guys, whereas the women have relatively fewer good alternatives. Although the main area of conflict described in the article is sex, it stands to reason that the logic could be applied to other decisions in relationships, such as what movie to see, which friends to hangout with, or how much Xbox should be played.

This idea is known to close relationships researchers as the “principle of least interest”1—that when there is an inequality in the desire to maintain the relationship between the partners, the person least into the relationship has the power to call the shots. For the Seinfeld fans out there, you might remember the episode The Pez Dispenser (1992) when George laments about his relationships by stating “I have no power. Do you understand? I need hand. I have no hand.” Kramer and Jerry advise George to threaten to break up with his girlfriend, which effectively turns the table in the relationship and subsequently gives George the "hand” he so desperately wanted.

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