Relationships frequently fall apart due to irreconcilable incompatibilities. Sometimes these incompatibilities are so large that they seem like they should have been obvious from the start (e.g., one person wants children, the other partner doesn’t; one person is deeply religious, the other isn’t). Why don’t such dealbreakers prevent relationships from getting off the ground in the first place? Why do people so frequently wind up with incompatible romantic partners?
No matter how you slice it, breakups are not much fun — someone usually ends up getting hurt. Wouldn’t it be great if ending a relationship with someone could be a little less painful? It turns out that a dose of compassionate love can help ease the pain.
Millions of people take to the bars, coffee shops and internet sites of the world looking for love. Finding that love connection isn’t always easy because your new found guy may end up having too many Star Trek figurines or your new found gal may have one too many cats. While there are seemingly a million things that can go wrong, people do fall in love.
But is it possible that some people fall easier than others?
Quick—think of someone you know who’s in a relationship (or has been in the past). This person can be a friend, a family member, your own past or current relationship partner, or even yourself. Which one of these statements best describes something that the person you thought of might say?
A) I feel comfortable depending on romantic partners.
B) My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away.
C) I don’t feel comfortable opening up to romantic partners.
The other day, I asked my kids (7 and 8 years old) to sign a birthday card for a relative that they had only met a few times. I expected that their misspelled words and child-like handwriting would be appealing to the card’s recipient. What I didn’t expect was for their messages to be full of love: “I love you,” “xoxox,” and hearts dotting each letter “i”. Where were these demonstrative notes for a relatively unknown person coming from? Should I be worried about my overly affectionate children?
Many of us know an uncle or cousin, or even an immediate family member, who had a “problem” with alcohol or other drug(s). As a psychologist, I have heard many opinions about why people have drug addictions and what should (or could) be done about it: Aunt Marge has a “weak” constitution and cannot control herself; Cousin Vern drinks too much, he is an alcoholic, or a lazy “good-for-nothing” loser. As we’ve written about previously, opinions and perceptions are important for interpersonal interactions. Perceptions of a partner’s drinking (or drug use, if you extend the logic) impacts relationship quality: if you believe your partner drinks (or uses) too much, then this perception could lead to dissatisfaction with your relationship with that person.
What contributes to these perceptions?
Because my writing niche is connecting relationship science to pop-culture, I often find links between what I teach and what I watch. However, as a southerner, I have been particularly intrigued by Bravo’s reality TV show,Southern Charm. This past season, I eagerly awaited the weekly opportunity to revel in the salacious bed-hopping and bourbon-swilling of these Charleston socialites. For fans of the show, you know that the characters often try to behave in refined ways that demonstrate their good manners. Nonetheless, this etiquette generally gives way to the debauchery for which we watch the show. As this homage to social propriety seemed somewhat unique from other reality TV shows (such as Jersey Shore), I couldn’t help but wonder if this curious behavior was tied to the cultural norms and southern traditions of the characters’ upbringing.
Are you satisfied with “vanilla” sex? Or do you seek the thrill of kink in the bedroom with your own list of “hard limits?”
Picking a romantic partner with the “right” characteristics can be difficult, but it is also important. We all want a partner who is smart, funny, kind, and all around fantastic, because the assumption is that such a person makes us happy and will generally lead to a better life overall. But can your relationship partner influence your job success?
Lately it seems like everywhere I turn, someone is talking about a TV show reunion. From Seinfeld to Friends, Sex and the City to 90210, the rumors circulate, even in the face of stars vigorously denying the possibility. What would make us miss our favorite TV characters so much that, despite the stars’ protests, we still hold out hope of celebrities reviving their beloved roles? The answer may lie in our need to belong.
Men’s and women’s magazines provide different messages about sex to their respective readers. In a study of over 300 students, exposure to such magazines was related to students’ feelings about obtaining sexual consent. Those who read more men’s magazines reported a lowerlikelihood of requiring consent before having sex; those who read more women’s magazines reported a greater likelihood to refuse unwanted sex. We can’t infer that reading men’s magazines causes these troublesome opinions about sexual consent; however, it does warrant paying greater attention to the messages that men’s magazines send and about those who are inclined to read them.
"You have likely seen some variation of this scene before: you’re out in public or watching TV, and you see someone bend down on one knee, pull out a ring, and ask the person they’re with, “Will you marry me?” Odds are you knew what was taking place the moment the person got down on one knee and pulled out the box. This is because proposing marriage is a ritual that has a fairly standard script that people often follow. Of course, there are some variations on the script, but generally people seem to include some or most of the elements. This post describes those script elements and what people sometimes think when that script is not followed."