‘Science of Relationships’ summarized

[Re­la­tion­ships help us flour­ish](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​2/​​20/​​stronger-re­la­tion­ships-make-for-a-stronger-you.html). The [sci­ence is in­ter­est­ing](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​9/​​15/​​in­fo­graphic-the-10-most-in­ter­est­ing-dat­ing-stud­ies-of-2014.html) e.g. men can more ac­curtely de­tect flirt­ing than women—twice as well, in fact; And, cud­dling af­ter sex sig­nifi­cantly im­proves sex­ual and re­la­tion­ship satis­fac­tion (IMO, it’s the best part!); And mul­ti­ra­cial daters are the most de­sir­able; Plus, Men but not women see a friendly (re­spon­sive) strate­ger as more at­trac­tive (fem­i­nine/​​mas­culine). [Re­la­tion­ships can help neu­rotic per­son­al­ities sta­bil­ise](http://​​www.patheos.com/​​blogs/​​faithon­the­couch/​​2014/​​05/​​a-healthy-ro­man­tic-re­la­tion­ship-can-sta­bi­lize-neu­rotic-peo­ple/​​) too. Think your grannies wis­dom has got your back? Op­po­sites don’t at­tract: ‘Although there are com­pet­ing com­mon sense be­liefs, the ex­ist­ing re­search over­whelm­ingly sup­ports the idea that similar­ity leads to at­trac­tion and bet­ter qual­ity re­la­tion­ships.1’ - www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2011/​​4/​​14/​​do-op­po­sites-at­tract.html. That’s why I’m do­ing this very in­for­mal ‘liter­a­ture re­view’...

The fol­low­ing notes are de­signed to be use­ful with­out hav­ing to fol­low the links* I read through some­where like 10 pages of the Science of Re­la­tion­ship blog, and the first page of their face­book page and clicked on any in­ter­est­ing links. Then, I dis­re­garded that which isn’t di­rectly sup­ported by the study, and those stud­ies with very small sam­ple size, or that didn’t repli­cate. The re­main­der are re­ported here:

Th­ese points are for­mat­ted to be in­serted into a dis­cus­sion level post (in re­sponse to this, or a bro-sci­ency re­la­tion­ship claim) for fur­ther dis­cus­sion while keep­ing the links in-tact.

[For the 144 speed daters, Vacharkulk­sem­suk says, “ex­pan­sive­ness (open body lan­guage) nearly dou­bles chances of get­ting a yes [to see each other again.]”]( http://​​www.npr.org/​​sec­tions/​​health-shots/​​2016/​​03/​​30/​​472250698/​​to-catch-some­one-on-tin­der-stretch-your-arms-wide)

[there’s enough dopamine trig­gered by sex­ual ac­tivity to ac­tu­ally make a per­son fall in love with their part­ner](http://​​big­think.com/​​robby-berman/​​sim­ple-care­free-ca­sual-sex-as-if)

[Vir­gins are stig­ma­tised]( http://​​www.glamour.com/​​story/​​stigma-against-vir­gins)

[Avoidants are moral­ise against pri­vacy vi­o­la­tions, the anx­ious moral­ise against po­ten­tial in­fidelity]( http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​12/​​18/​​moral-bound­aries-in-re­la­tion­ships-re­la­tion­ship-mat­ters-podca.html)

[non sym­bolic gift giv­ing is bad for re­la­tion­ships]( http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​12/​​17/​​all-i-want-for-christ­mas-is-you-the-sci­ence-of-gift-giv­ing.html)

[sur­prise gifts are bad, gifts speci­fi­cally on a part­ner’s wish list are good]( http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​12/​​19/​​this-holi­day-sea­son-get-your-ro­man­tic-part­ner-ex­actly-what-h.html)

[Prin­ci­ple 1: Give Ex­pe­riences, Not Stuff, Prin­ci­ple 2: Give the Gift of An­ti­ci­pa­tion, Prin­ci­ple 3: Fo­cus on Giv­ing Quan­tity + ‘we’ve got you cov­ered. In pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles, some of the best gifts for your re­la­tion­ship are ones that an­nounce your re­la­tion­ship to the world, erotic pho­tos, or sim­ply ex­actly what your part­ner asked for’]( www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​home/​2014/​12/​17/​tis-the-sea­son-5-prin­ci­ples-for-spend­ing-your-money-wisely-d.html)

Don’t think you’re re­la­tion­ship ma­te­rial? [ two stud­ies which found that re­la­tion­ships where there was self-ex­pan­sion and self-prun­ing in­creased one’s will­ing­ness to be ac­com­mo­dat­ing to­ward a part­ner, for­give a part­ner, and sac­ri­fice for a part­ner. In con­trast, self-adulter­a­tion and self-con­trac­tion in­creases thoughts about break­ing up, at­ten­tion to mate al­ter­na­tives, and seek­ing re­venge against a part­ner.](www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​home/​2014/​12/​11/​how-re­la­tion­ships-change-us-over-time-re­la­tion­ship-mat­ters-p.html)

[we may have an in­tu­itive abil­ity to sense other’s cheat­ing ways based on a few min­utes from a video](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​12/​​9/​​can-you-spot-the-cheater-it-should-only-take-you-a-few-minut.html)

Are they look­ing for lust or love? [When de­cid­ing whether a given photo por­trayed love, male and fe­male par­ti­ci­pants fo­cused on the faces de­picted in the pho­tos, but very lit­tle at­ten­tion was paid to the in­di­vi­d­u­als’ and cou­ples’ bod­ies. In con­trast, when look­ing for signs of lust, both males and fe­males gen­er­ally fo­cused more on the bod­ies in the pho­tos. The re­searchers sug­gest this work could in­form in­ter­ven­tions for ther­a­pists who want to iden­tify how cou­ple mem­bers view each other.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​12/​​2/​​love-or-lust-fol­low-the-eyes.html)

What’s mar­riage ma­te­rial? [For ex­am­ple, in one study re­searchers asked women what they were look­ing for in a part­ner.3 The women in­di­cated that they were look­ing for some­one who was fi­nan­cially sta­ble, will­ing to com­mit, and emo­tion­ally se­cure. Un­for­tu­nately, the women in the study felt like they knew very few peo­ple in their com­mu­nity who fit the bill. As a re­sult, they said that they would rather be on their own than make a mis­take and marry the wrong per­son. Get­ting mar­ried only to later get di­vorced is a fear that many peo­ple share](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​11/​​25/​​four-things-you-need-to-con­sider-when-de­cid­ing-to-get-mar­rie.html)

[three types of so­cial in­fluence pre­dict ado­les­cent sex­ual be­hav­ior: peer pres­sure, think­ing your friends ap­prove (in­junc­tive norms)and think­ing your friends are do­ing it (de­scrip­tive norms)](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​11/​​20/​​so­cial-in­fluence-and-teen-sex-what-mat­ters-and-what-doesnt.html_) >The re­search team3 com­bined the re­sults from 58 in­de­pen­dent stud­ies con­ducted be­tween 1980 and 2012, in­clud­ing al­most 70,000 ado­les­cents from 24 coun­tries, us­ing a statis­ti­cal tech­nique known as meta-anal­y­sis...Of the three types of so­cial in­fluence, de­scrip­tive norms had the largest as­so­ci­a­tion with ado­les­cent sex­ual be­hav­ior. In­junc­tive norms were the next best pre­dic­tor of teenage sex, and peer pres­sure was the weak­est. So nor­mal­ness > nor­ma­tivity > normalisation

[So the next time your be­loved shares a per­sonal suc­cess, re­mem­ber that a heart­felt “con­grat­u­la­tions!” goes a long way to­wards fan­ning those warm feel­ings that sus­tain re­la­tion­ship hap­piness.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​11/​​18/​​are-you-listen­ing-cold-shoulder­ing-a-part­ners-suc­cesses-leav.html)

[In terms of gen­eral per­son­al­ity traits (e.g., open­ness to new ex­pe­riences, neu­roti­cism), on­line and offline daters are not sig­nifi­cantly differ­ent from each other.1](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​11/​​7/​​the-truth-be­hind-on­line-dat­ing-how-it-com­pares-to-offline-da.html)

[Two Is Stronger Than One: Shared Cho­co­late eat­ing is More In­tense ](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​11/​​3/​​two-is-stronger-than-one-shared-ex­pe­riences-are-more-in­tense.html). The ar­ti­cle gen­er­al­ises to shared ex­pe­riences, but that’s in­sub­stan­ti­ated.

[ A clas­sic study from the 60s on in-per­son dat­ing found that a date’s hot body/​face pre­dicted ro­man­tic at­trac­tion more than per­son­al­ity traits, in­tel­li­gence, pop­u­lar­ity/​charisma, men­tal health, and self-es­teem.2More re­cent “speed-dat­ing” re­search shows similar re­sults; beauty mat­tered more than poli­ti­cal at­ti­tudes, preferred hob­bies, val­ues/​ethics, and even at­tach­ment se­cu­rity.3 Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, some re­sults from OKCupid’s data crunch­ing show similar find­ings.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​31/​​the-truth-be­hind-on­line-dat­ing-what-mo­ti­vates-users-and-comp.html)

>On­line dat­ing ex­ists as a busi­ness to turn a profit. It sounds like a cyn­i­cal per­spec­tive to take, but the on­line dat­ing web­site/​app com­pa­nies aren’t 100% en­thu­si­as­tic about you find­ing a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship, be­cause if you do, then they lose a cus­tomer.

[It isn’t sur­pris­ing that a per­son’s self-es­teem may af­fect how she or he ap­proaches flirt­ing. When the risk of be­ing re­jected is high, men with high self-es­teem use more di­rect tech­niques than those with low self-es­teem, per­haps be­cause they’re less con­cerned with how be­ing shot down may af­fect them. How­ever, men with low self-es­teem are bolder and use more ob­vi­ous ap­proaches than men with high self-es­teem when the tar­get is clearly in­ter­ested and re­jec­tion risk is low. This may be be­cause en­coun­ter­ing a sure thing is one of the only con­texts in which a guy with low self-es­teem feels safe mak­ing ad­vances, so he has to make it count.]( http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​27/​​a-flirters-dilemma-sub­tlety-vs-suc­cess.html)

>When re­jec­tion risk is low for women, they’re more di­rect re­gard­less of their self-es­teem. Women tra­di­tion­ally ini­ti­ate re­la­tion­ships less of­ten than men, so when the chance arises per­haps women de­cide to throw cau­tion to the wind and just go for it. Of course it is also pos­si­ble that women are us­ing the tech­nique that they know works bet­ter when men try to flirt with them.

>When it comes to flirt­ing tech­nique the re­search is pretty clear: while sub­tlety is more likely to pro­tect the flirter’s self-es­teem, if you re­ally want to get your mes­sage across, di­rect is best. A study asked col­lege stu­dents about the most effec­tive ways to show in­ter­est in some­one. Both men and women agreed that sub­tle flirt­ing was less likely to get the job done, and that the best ap­proach would be a di­rect “Do you want to go to din­ner with me?”

[any re­li­able as­so­ci­a­tions that the re­searchers found were in the op­po­site di­rec­tion from what mar­ket­ing would sug­gest. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple who had spent be­tween $2000-4000 on an en­gage­ment ring had sig­nifi­cantly higher rates of di­vorce com­pared to peo­ple who spent be­tween $500 and $2000. Similarly, cou­ples who spent less than $1000 on their wed­dings had sig­nifi­cantly lower rates of di­vorce even com­pared to peo­ple who spent be­tween $5000 and $10,000. Peo­ple who re­ported hav­ing spent more than $20,000 on their wed­ding tended to have higher di­vorce rates com­pared to those who spent less. Fur­ther­more, any cases where spend­ing more was as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter re­la­tion­ship out­comes were ex­plained by de­mo­graphic fac­tors like hav­ing a high in­come. In other words, it wasn’t that spend­ing more made things bet­ter. Other fac­tors were re­spon­si­ble.It gets worse. The re­searchers found that high lev­els of wed­ding-re­lated spend­ing—for ex­am­ple, hav­ing a wed­ding that cost more than $20,000—was as­so­ci­ated with stress over wed­ding-re­lated debt. The re­searchers posit that this stress may help to ac­count for some of the nega­tive as­so­ci­a­tions be­tween high spend­ing and mar­i­tal out­comes. Cou­ples spend money on their wed­ding that they don’t have, which later puts a strain on their mar­riage when they have trou­ble pay­ing off the re­sult­ing debt.Th­ese re­sults sug­gest that if any­thing, high lev­els of wed­ding-re­lated spend­ing have a nega­tive effect on mar­riage, not a pos­i­tive one. Of course, this study is cross-sec­tional, mean­ing that the re­searchers did not fol­low peo­ple over time. It would be great to see a lon­gi­tu­di­nal study where newly­weds first re­port on their en­gage­ment ring and wed­ding spend­ing, and are then fol­lowed over time to see who splits up.](www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​home/​2014/​10/​17/​di­a­monds-ar­ent-for­ever-ex­pen­sive-rings-and-wed­dings-may-lead.html)

[If you ask peo­ple who iden­tify as straight, but then have sex with some­one else of the same gen­der, this ex­pe­rience does not nec­es­sar­ily make them “bi­sex­ual,” but it does make them sex­u­ally fluid.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​13/​​de­bunk­ing-myths-about-sex­ual-fluidity.html) >In ad­di­tion, ro­man­tic/​emo­tional bond­ing is fun­da­men­tally differ­ent from sex­ual de­sire (love and sex are gov­erned by differ­ent parts of the brain and differ­ent hor­mones in the body). In the words of Lisa Di­a­mond, “one can ‘fall in love’ with­out ex­pe­rienc­ing sex­ual de­sire.” 4 The pro­cesses of af­fec­tional bond­ing (or ro­man­tic love) are not ori­ented speci­fi­cally to­ward other-gen­der or same-gen­der part­ners.

[Re­searchers have found through more than two-dozen stud­ies that re­la­tion­ship dis­satis­fac­tion ac­counts for 44% of a de­pressed part­ner’s symp­toms1 (such as loss of in­ter­est and mo­ti­va­tion, hope­less­ness, changes in ap­petite and sleep). Shock­ingly or not, part­ners in dis­tressed re­la­tion­ships ex­pe­rience a 10-fold in­crease in risk of de­pres­sion]( http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​7/​​28/​​what-does-it-mat­ter-why-de­pres­sion-is-so-im­por­tant-in-troubl.html)

[Of the Big 5 per­son­al­ity traits, hav­ing a con­scien­tious spouse was as­so­ci­ated with im­por­tant benefits for job suc­cess. Speci­fi­cally, par­ti­ci­pants with more con­scien­tious part­ners re­ported higher in­comes, higher job satis­fac­tion, and they were more likely to have been pro­moted dur­ing the study. A part­ner’s con­scien­tious­ness had more of an im­pact on earn­ings in sin­gle-in­come cou­ples than in dual-in­come cou­ples, per­haps be­cause the part­ner’s sup­port­ing role is mag­nified. Th­ese benefits all oc­curred above and be­yond any benefits of one’s own per­son­al­ity. That is, re­gard­less of your own per­son­al­ity, hav­ing a con­scien­tious part­ner re­lates to job suc­cess.Ac­cord­ing to study au­thor Brit­tany Solomon, “…while pre­vi­ous re­search has shown that peo­ple de­sire ro­man­tic part­ners high in agree­able­ness and low in neu­roti­cism, our find­ings sug­gest that peo­ple should also de­sire highly con­scien­tious part­ners. While hav­ing a con­scien­tious part­ner could seem like a recipe for a rigid and lack­luster lifestyle, the find­ings in­di­cate that hav­ing an es­pe­cially con­scien­tious spouse is likely to lead to both re­la­tion­ship and oc­cu­pa­tional pros­per­ity.”](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​9/​​2/​​for-richer-how-your-spouse-in­fluences-your-job-suc­cess.html)

So, you’ll prob­a­bly au­to­mat­i­cally se­lect an agree­able and less neu­rotic part­ner. But, go out of your way to get a con­scien­scious part­ner.

[More re­cently, re­searchers have ad­vanced a So­cial Sur­ro­gacy Hy­poth­e­sis that claims paraso­cial re­la­tion­ships (e.g. tv char­ac­ters, pickup gu­rus) help to fend off real life re­jec­tion.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​8/​​29/​​paraso­cial-re­la­tion­ships-i-get-by-with-a-lit­tle-help-from-my.html). The au­thor im­plies ac­tual friends are bet­ter for that any­how.

[Those who read more men’s mag­a­z­ines re­ported a lower like­li­hood 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.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​8/​​27/​​no-means-no-read­ing-mens-and-wom­ens-mag­a­z­ines-linked-to-sexu.html)

[It may be in­tu­itive that when two peo­ple en­joy the same thing (similar­ity), they can en­joy it to­gether. How­ever, similar­ity it­self did not pre­dict satis­fac­tion. On the other hand, when one per­son likes re­ceiv­ing what the other likes giv­ing (com­ple­men­tar­ity), then ev­ery­one is be more satis­fied. What may be less ob­vi­ous, how­ever, is the im­pact that the over­es­ti­mat­ing these things can have on sex­ual satis­fac­tion.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​9/​​4/​​sex­ual-satis­fac­tion-do-you-and-your-part­ner-have-to-be-the-s.html)

[Since when is hu­man sex­u­al­ity sup­posed to be sim­ple and straight-for­ward? If psy­chol­o­gists claimed that peo­ple’s lev­els of in­tro­ver­sion or neu­roti­cism (two of the “Big Five” per­son­al­ity traits) fluc­tu­ate over time, that would per­haps seem in­tu­itively ob­vi­ous and un­con­tro­ver­sial (of course peo­ple can be shy in child­hood and grow up to be more out­go­ing). But be­cause we’re talk­ing about sex­ual vari­ables, some may as­sume they are (or should be) com­pletely sta­ble over time. I’m spec­u­lat­ing here, but per­haps poli­ti­cal liber­als want to be­lieve that sex­u­al­ity is sta­ble across the lifes­pan, thus giv­ing cre­dence to the idea that since peo­ple can­not change or con­trol their sex­ual prefer­ences (they are sim­ply “born that way”), it would be a ral­ly­ing cry for equitable treat­ment (equal rights) based on gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. It’s worth men­tion­ing that this re­search on sex­ual fluidity has also been abused and mi­sused by anti-gay ac­tivists in fa­vor of “con­ver­sion ther­apy” (see more here), but this a com­plete mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the sci­en­tific re­search. While I whole-heart­edly agree that ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity, should be treated equally un­der the law (or oth­er­wise), the idea that peo­ple’s sex­u­al­ity does not fluc­tu­ate across their lives is sci­en­tifi­cally in­ac­cu­rate. Dis­miss­ing all of the sup­port­ing re­search does not do any­one any fa­vors. I’m not sure why some peo­ple may be­lieve that the the­ory of sex­ual fluidity is sex­ist, or at all in­sidious. But if folks are up­set at the no­tion of sex­ual fluidity, then we should have a con­struc­tive, sex-pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion about speci­fi­cally how it is dam­ag­ing (if it is at all) and then how to fix it.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​13/​​de­bunk­ing-myths-about-sex­ual-fluidity.html)

[Th­ese find­ings are one of the first to es­tab­lish a causal link be­tween stress and re­la­tion­ship be­hav­iors. Speci­fi­cally, they show how in­di­vi­d­u­als’ acute stress ex­pe­riences un­der­mine re­la­tion­ships by mak­ing those in­di­vi­d­u­als less likely to com­pli­ment one’s part­ner and more likely to pay at­ten­tion to other po­ten­tial part­ners.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​8/​​two-key-ways-that-stress-un­der­mines-your-re­la­tion­ship.html). Keep your part­ner’s stress low to keep your part­ner happy and your es­teem in tact!

[ Good-look­ing men tend to be more in­ter­ested in one-night stands and brief af­fairs, and own­ing an ex­pen­sive elec­tronic sta­tus-sym­bol might help them to at­tract part­ners. So we might ex­pect to see hand­some men first in line for the next iPhone.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​6/​​his-new-iphone-may-sig­nal-hes-sin­gle-and-look­ing-to-hook-up.html)

[Re­sults of the study in­di­cate that men and women re­ported a similar num­ber of life­time “loves” and similar oc­cur­rences of fal­ling in love first. How­ever, com­pared to women, men re­ported phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness was more im­por­tant and were more likely to mis­tak­enly over­es­ti­mate sex­ual in­ter­est from an­other per­son. Men also re­ported more oc­cur­rences of “love at first sight” and were more likely to fall in love with­out a part­ner re­cip­ro­cat­ing that feel­ing. Men who were more likely to over­es­ti­mate fe­males’ sex­ual in­ter­est fell in love more fre­quently, while women did not show a similar pat­tern. Men who place more im­por­tance on phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness fell in love first in their re­la­tion­ship more of­ten when they thought they were with a highly at­trac­tive part­ner. Fi­nally, women with a higher re­ported sex drive also re­ported fal­ling in love more fre­quently. Over­all, men seem to fall in love eas­ier than women, but why? It may be that men fall in love eas­ier be­cause they think be­ing in love is im­por­tant to women. Thus,men fall in love is a way to show fe­male part­ners that they are com­mit­ted to the re­la­tion­ship. The fact that men were more likely to fall in love when they over es­ti­mated sex­ual in­ter­est sug­gests that a man may be more likely to have in­ter­est in a women once he be­lieves she has sex­ual in­ter­est in him. That is, the way to a man’s heart is through his…well you know. Of course it is also pos­si­ble that men who fall in love more eas­ily are also in­clined to over­es­ti­mate sex­ual in­ter­est as a way of val­i­dat­ing his own feel­ings.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​9/​​19/​​who-falls-in-love-the-eas­iest.html) >Though there may be true differ­ences be­tween men and women, it is also pos­si­ble that this study tells us more about who falls in “lust” more eas­ily. The re­searchers defi­ni­tion of love fo­cuses heav­ily on the more pas­sion­ate as­pects of love such as pow­er­ful emo­tions, at­trac­tion, ex­cite­ment, and in­tense de­sire. It is pos­si­ble that a study fo­cus­ing on more com­pan­ionate or friend­ship-based love could yield a differ­ent pat­tern of re­sults.

[the fa­mous Czech writer Milan Kun­dera mused, “[it is] one of life’s great se­crets: women don’t look for hand­some men, they look for men with beau­tiful women.”1](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​12/​​1/​​i-want-what-shes-hav­ing-women-copy-other-wom­ens-mate-choices.html). Women who thought other women re­garded their part­ner to be at­trac­tive were more likely to ex­pe­rience an or­gasm. What is in­ter­est­ing here is that this re­la­tion­ship holds even af­ter other vari­ables (eg. part­ner at­trac­tive­ness) are statis­ti­cally con­trol­led for. In other words, even when all men are treated as be­ing equally at­trac­tive, the ones that are per­ceived as be­ing liked by other women are more likely to give their part­ner an or­gasm. The au­thors were able to demon­strate that per­cep­tion of other women’s as­sess­ment of part­ner’s at­trac­tive­ness uniquely pre­dicted like­li­hood of or­gasm.

[The vast ma­jor­ity of teens do no meet ro­man­tic part­ners on­line...Over­all, 64% of teens have never been in a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship (leav­ing about 36% of teens who have been). Of those who have been in a re­la­tion­ship, only 8% met a part­ner on­line.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​11/​​11/​​lets-talk-about-tech-and-teen-re­la­tion­ships.html)

>Why do teens use so­cial me­dia in their re­la­tion­ship?

The ma­jor­ity of teens (59%) re­port us­ing it to feel more con­nected or closer to their part­ners. They also re­port that it gives them a chance to show their part­ners they care (47%) and to feel emo­tion­ally closer (44%). While those are pos­i­tive sen­ti­ments for the re­la­tion­ships, 27% re­port that so­cial me­dia leads to feel­ings of jeal­ousy and re­la­tion­ship un­cer­tainty.

>How much do teens want to com­mu­ni­cate with their re­la­tion­ship part­ners?

>The vast ma­jor­ity (85%) ex­pect at least daily or more fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and 11% ex­pect hourly com­mu­ni­ca­tion from their part­ner. When asked what their part­ner ex­pected from them, the num­bers were nearly the same.

[At­tach­ment style de­scribes the de­gree to which we per­ceive our re­la­tion­ships (usu­ally ro­man­tic part­ner­ships) as be­ing se­cure, ca­pa­ble of meet­ing our needs, and a source of com­fort in times of dis­tress.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​10/​​27/​​anx­ious-avoidant-duos-walk­ing-on-thin-ice-in-re­la­tion­ships-a.html)

>It’s easy to see how an anx­ious-avoidant pairing could snow­ball into re­la­tion­ship dys­func­tion: in the face of an at­tach­ment threat, such as an ar­gu­ment or con­fronta­tion, anx­ious in­di­vi­d­u­als are likely to pur­sue their at­tach­ment figures in an at­tempt to reestab­lish feel­ings of close­ness, just as Anna did when she ven­tured out into the bliz­zard to chase af­ter Elsa. When the avoidant part­ner re­sponds by pul­ling away – as Elsa did when she told Anna her in­ten­tion of never re­turn­ing home – the anx­ious per­son’s fears are re­in­forced and the re­la­tion­ship is likely to suffer (i.e., Anna feels aban­doned yet clings to her hope of re­con­nect­ing with her sister; Elsa feels over­whelmed and in­ad­ver­tently strikes her sister with a nearly-fatal blast of ice).

>If you rec­og­nize a trou­ble­some anx­ious-avoidant dy­namic in your re­la­tion­ship, know that it’s pos­si­ble to “un­freeze” bad pat­terns. After all, when Anna and Elsa fi­nally em­pathized with each other and stopped let­ting their fears con­trol them, they ex­pe­rienced self-growth and re­con­nec­tion. Sim­ply know­ing your own at­tach­ment ori­en­ta­tion can help you to un­der­stand your strengths and vuln­er­a­bil­ities in re­la­tion­ships. Like­wise, notic­ing how your part­ner re­sponds to re­la­tion­ship stres­sors can help both of you de­velop ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing that fulfill each oth­ers’ at­tach­ment needs and re­in­force re­la­tion­ship se­cu­rity over time. If Anna and Elsa can melt the ice and rekin­dle their bond, there’s hope for a happy end­ing for us all.

[“Par­ents Re­port More Pos­i­tive Emo­tions Than Non-Par­ents; Age, In­come, Mar­i­tal Sta­tus Are Fac­tors”](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​10/​​19/​​par­ents-are-less-happy-fact-or-fic­tion.html)

[re­ciproc­ity in dis­clo­sure fa­cil­i­tates more lik­ing than en­gag­ing in only one of the two dis­clos­ing roles. This is where our mea­sure­ment of in­ter­ac­tion en­joy­ment, per­cep­tions of be­ing liked by the other, and per­ceived re­spon­sive­ness came into play. We saw that all of these vari­ables uniquely ex­plained the differ­ence in lik­ing we saw be­tween the two dis­clo­sure con­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, be­cause peo­ple found that en­gag­ing in re­cip­ro­cal dis­clo­sure was more fun than non-re­cip­ro­cal dis­clo­sure, they liked each other more.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​10/​​8/​​let-me-get-a-turn-dont-do-all-the-talk­ing-in-a-con­ver­sa­tion.html)

[when con­ver­sa­tion flows eas­ily be­tween strangers, peo­ple tend to feel bonded with one an­other and this flow can in­di­cate the be­gin­ning of a mean­ingful re­la­tion­ship. Like­wise, when con­ver­sa­tions are dis­rupted or oth­er­wise difficult, this lack of flow can make peo­ple who have just met feel dis­con­nected. But what about long-term re­la­tion­ships? Is a dis­rup­tion in con­ver­sa­tion as detri­men­tal to cou­ples as it can be for strangers? Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Gron­ingen in the Nether­lands have tack­led this ques­tion,1 and their work sug­gests that a con­ver­sa­tional lull can ac­tu­ally benefit your ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship—IF you feel already men­tally con­nected to your part­ner](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​9/​​8/​​silence-is-golden-how-stay­ing-hush-may-benefit-your-re­la­tion.html)

>For peo­ple who re­ported be­ing se­cure and strongly con­nected to their part­ner, hav­ing a dis­rupted con­ver­sa­tion (with the one sec­ond de­lay) ac­tu­ally re­sulted in feel­ing more val­i­dated and in agree­ment with their part­ners dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion com­pared to those ex­pe­rienc­ing an undis­rupted con­ver­sa­tion.

>This group of re­searchers re­port similar re­sults in other close non-ro­man­tic pairs (e.g., friend­ships and fam­ily). It seems that the closer you feel to some­one, silence or other in­ter­rup­tions in con­ver­sa­tion can be benefi­cial for your re­la­tion­ship due to feel­ings of agree­ment that tend to ac­com­pany the dis­rup­tions. In re­la­tion­ships, some­times silence is golden.

[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.](http://​​ww.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​9/​​1/​​when-and-why-we-is­noop-on-oth­ers.html)

[when re­la­tion­ship part­ners ideal­ized each other more, over time the in­di­vi­d­u­als in the re­la­tion­ship ac­tu­ally changed to be­come more like their part­ner’s ideal.6 In other words, if you think long enough about your part­ner as fulfilling your ideals of what a ro­man­tic part­ner should be, sooner or later it may no longer be much of an illu­sion; they may ac­tu­ally be more like your ideal part­ner.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2012/​​11/​​15/​​and-for-my-next-trick-the-mag­i­cal-effects-of-pos­i­tive-illusi.html)

[we all come to view and ap­pre­ci­ate our bod­ies in the con­text of our in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships. In other words, how we feel about our bod­ies im­pacts our re­la­tion­ships and our re­la­tion­ships im­pact our feel­ings about our bod­ies.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​7/​​15/​​my-body-your-body-our-re­la­tion­ship-5-links-be­tween-our-body.html_

>Fourth, work­ing with our part­ners to achieve health, fit­ness, and our “best body” can be ad­van­ta­geous to all in­volved. Work­ing with our part­ners should not in­volve den­i­grat­ing or sham­ing them into eat­ing well or spend­ing more time on the tread­mill. Re­search sug­gests that en­courage­ment and sup­port are likely to go a lot fur­ther. And, why not make it a team effort? Join­ing forces may mean skip­ping the ice cream aisle at the gro­cery store if you think your part­ner should eat less ice cream. Eat off of smaller plates to help con­trol your portion

[We find out how our ra­tio­nal minds go all screwy when we’re faced with at­trac­tive ri­vals or sex­ual com­peti­tors. Three new ex­per­i­ments show how sex­ual ri­valry primes men to be cruel, self-cen­tred, and prone to risk.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​7/​​7/​​catch­ing-up-with-the-psy­chol­ogy-of-at­trac­tive­ness-pod­cast.html)

Red­dit’s The Red Pill (TRP) has a can­non the­ory called ‘alpha fucks and beta bucks’. It’s em­piri­cally false: [A study of 2,757 par­ti­ci­pants from the Na­tional Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Sur­vey of Youth ex­am­ined how spouses’ rel­a­tive earn­ings (i.e., who makes more money) in­fluences like­li­hood of cheat­ing. Re­sults in­di­cate ab­solute in­come did not pre­dict in­fidelity, so sim­ply earn­ing more money did not make a per­son more likely to cheat. How­ever, be­ing the bread­win­ner (i.e., earn­ing more than a spouse) was as­so­ci­ated with men be­ing more likely to cheat; the op­po­site was true for women—they were less likely to cheat when they made more money than their hus­bands. Be­ing eco­nom­i­cally de­pen­dent on a spouse (i.e., one spouse makes a lot more than the other) was as­so­ci­ated with in­creased like­li­hood of cheat­ing in both men and women, though the effect was stronger in men.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​7/​​2/​​is-it-bet­ter-to-be-the-bread­win­ner-im­pli­ca­tions-for-in­fideli.html)

[what you want and what you get may be two differ­ent things. Study 1 shows that ev­ery­one prefers a po­ten­tial part­ner with high mate value. No sur­prise there. How­ever, con­sis­tent with the match­ing hy­poth­e­sis, only those with similarly high mate val­ues sought out the high value po­ten­tial part­ners. Im­por­tantly, this was self-im­posed be­hav­ior. Study 1 can’t say whether the lower value ini­tia­tors would be suc­cess­ful if they had tried to “date up.” Rather, the study sug­gests peo­ple don’t gen­er­ally try. Study 2 shows, that at least when it comes to on­line dat­ing, this is what peo­ple try to do. They try to “date up” by pur­su­ing oth­ers who are more at­trac­tive and es­sen­tially out of their league. It is likely that the low stakes en­vi­ron­ment of on­line dat­ing where ad­vances don’t re­sult in out­ward or ob­vi­ous re­jec­tion, but rather a much eas­ier to han­dle lack of re­sponse. As a re­sult, a “shot­gun” ap­proach where you con­tact lots of more at­trac­tive peo­ple is a more vi­able strat­egy that is less threat­en­ing to your ego. And re­ally, you can’t blame a guy or gal for try­ing. But if you’re go­ing for a higher suc­cess rate, Study 2 sug­gests that you’re bet­ter off stick­ing to oth­ers in your own league. Thus, the match­ing hy­poth­e­sis op­er­ates on the more prac­ti­cal level of what type of part­ner you ac­tu­ally get, and not in terms of what peo­ple want. All in all this makes perfect sense. In an ideal world you may re­ally want the best high­est pay­ing job there is. Yet, be­cause of all of the other ap­pli­cants, some of whom are more qual­ified than you, you end up matched to a job that most closely matches your skills and abil­ities. So if you ever find your­self in that room with other sin­gles or on­line dat­ing, while you may want to “date up” by pairing up with the most at­trac­tive part­ners, un­less you are also one of the most at­trac­tive you’ll have bet­ter luck play­ing within your league.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​6/​​22/​​is-it-bet­ter-to-date-up-or-play-within-your-own-league.html)

[In­di­vi­d­u­als in com­mit­ted ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships tend to down­play the at­trac­tive­ness of po­ten­tial part­ners. This dero­ga­tion of al­ter­na­tives, as re­searchers re­fer to it, helps the re­la­tion­ship’s long-term fu­ture by de­creas­ing the like­li­hood that part­ners will be tempted by oth­ers.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​6/​​2/​​see-no-evil-smell-no-evil-pos­si­ble-al­ter­na­tive-part­ners.html)

[Now, if you’re get­ting mar­ried and want to po­ten­tially avoid any post-wed­ding blues, what should you do? First, talk to your part­ner about mar­riage, and be open and hon­est about your ex­pec­ta­tions. And if you have doubts now, you might con­sider why that is and take the time to figure things out be­fore pro­ceed­ing. Se­cond, all re­la­tion­ships are bet­ter when they have the sup­port and in­volve­ment of (non­prob­le­matic) oth­ers. Cel­e­brate your mar­riage, but do so with your friends and fam­ily.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​5/​​27/​​some­thing-old-some­thing-new-some­thing-bor­rowed-some­thing-blu.html)

[Why do peo­ple cheat? It’s a ques­tion we get (and ad­dress) here at ScienceOfRe­la­tion­ship.com reg­u­larly. Our cov­er­age of the topic gen­er­ally re­flects the state of re­search on the topic, which fo­cuses on prox­i­mal pre­dic­tors of in­fidelity—or sci­ence jar­gon for those things about in­di­vi­d­u­als or re­la­tion­ships that di­rectly in­crease the like­li­hood some­body will cheat, such as low com­mit­ment, more at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tives, lack of im­pulse con­trol, nar­cis­sism, and so on.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​5/​​19/​​cheat­ing-its-a-fam­ily-af­fair.html)

>Stu­dents who had cheated on a part­ner were twice as likely to have had a par­ent who cheated com­pared to those stu­dents who had not cheated on a part­ner (44% vs. 22%). In­ter­est­ingly, hav­ing a cheat­ing par­ent didn’t af­fect the way stu­dents viewed cheat­ing -- they were no more ac­cept­ing of the idea of cheat­ing in gen­eral (at least that’s what they told the re­searchers)-- so it’s not en­tirely clear ex­actly how hav­ing a par­ent cheat in­creases the odds that some­body may one day do the same. It’s most likely that know­ing your mom or dad was a cheater some­how in­fluences one of the many prox­i­mal pre­dic­tors of cheat­ing (e.g., feel­ings of com­mit­ment to part­ners), but fu­ture work is needed to clar­ify the chain of events that links your par­ents’ cheat­ing ways (or not) to your own.

[80% of peo­ple had ex­pe­rienced a de­sire dis­crep­ancy with their part­ner in the past month; in other study, cou­ples re­ported some de­gree of de­sire dis­crep­ancy on 5 out of 7 days a week. And we know from past re­search that dis­agree­ments re­lated to sex can be very difficult to re­solve suc­cess­fully](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​4/​​27/​​what-hap­pens-when-your-part­ner-wants-to-do-it-and-youre-not.html)

>Across all three stud­ies we found that a per­son’s mo­ti­va­tion to meet their part­ner’s sex­ual needs, termed sex­ual com­mu­nal strength4 (also dis­cussed here and here) plays an im­por­tant role (a) in the de­ci­sion to en­gage in sex in these situ­a­tions and (b) in the main­te­nance of both part­ners’ sex­ual and re­la­tion­ship satis­fac­tion.

>Peo­ple who are high in sex­ual com­mu­nal strength—those who are mo­ti­vated to meet their part­ner’s sex­ual needs with­out the ex­pec­ta­tion of im­me­di­ate re­cip­ro­ca­tion—were less con­cerned with the nega­tives of hav­ing sex—such as feel­ing tired the next day. In­stead, these com­mu­nal peo­ple were more fo­cused on the benefits to their part­ner of en­gag­ing in sex, such as mak­ing their part­ner feel loved and de­sired. In turn, these mo­ti­va­tions led the com­mu­nal peo­ple to be more likely to en­gage in sex with their part­ner in these situ­a­tions and also led to both part­ners feel­ing more satis­fied with their sex life and re­la­tion­ship. This means that even though they en­gaged in sex to meet their part­ner’s needs, they reaped im­por­tant benefits for them­selves. In fact, com­mu­nal peo­ple main­tained feel­ings of satis­fac­tion even in these de­sire dis­crepant situ­a­tions.

>Our find­ings sug­gest that if one part­ner is in­ter­ested in hav­ing sex, but the other part­ner isn’t in the mood, be­ing mo­ti­vated to meet a part­ner’s sex­ual needs can benefit both part­ners. It is very im­por­tant, how­ever, that this mo­ti­va­tion to meet a part­ner’s needs comes from a place of agency, where peo­ple feel that they are able to meet their part­ner’s needs, and a delight in see­ing ones part­ner happy. Si­tu­a­tions that in­volve co­er­cion or where a per­son ig­nores their own needs in the pro­cess (termed un­miti­gated com­mu­nion) do not lead to the same benefits. In fact, an im­por­tant part of com­mu­nal re­la­tion­ships is that both part­ners are at­tuned to and re­spon­sive to each other’s needs. At times this may also mean un­der­stand­ing and ac­cept­ing a part­ner’s need to not to en­gage in sex.

[Greater self-per­ceived at­trac­tive­ness in­creased ro­man­tic self-con­fi­dence, which pro­duced higher self-es­teem. It seems look­ing good makes you more con­fi­dent about your abil­ity to at­tract and main­tain re­la­tion­ships, which bodes well for your self-es­teem.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​4/​​6/​​your-self-per­ceived-re­la­tion­ship-de­sir­a­bil­ity-in­fluences-you.html)

[Peo­ple high in ex­traver­sion typ­i­cally posted about so­cial ac­tivi­ties and ev­ery­day life, mo­ti­vated by us­ing Face­book to com­mu­ni­cate and con­nect Low self-es­teem was pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with post­ing about ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships Con­scien­tious­ness was pos­i­tively as­so­ci­ated with child-re­lated up­dates (a topic of­ten as­so­ci­ated with a high num­ber of “likes”) Those high in nar­cis­sism used Face­book to seek val­i­da­tion and typ­i­cally posted about their ac­com­plish­ments and diet/​ex­er­cise rou­tine (and re­port­edly re­ceived a greater num­ber of “likes” and com­ments about their ac­com­plish­ments)](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​6/​​18/​​what-are-you-shar­ing-on-face­book-and-what-does-it-say-about.html)

[In our sec­ond study, we asked half of our par­ti­ci­pants to read about the benefits of en­gag­ing in ap­proach-mo­ti­vated sex and we then in­structed them to try and fo­cus on ap­proach-mo­ti­vated rea­sons for hav­ing sex over the next week. That is, we asked them to think about the pos­i­tive out­comes that they might ex­pect to gain from hav­ing sex with their part­ner. One week later we fol­lowed up with them and asked them to re­port on their sex­ual ex­pe­riences and re­la­tion­ship over the past week. Peo­ple who fo­cused on ap­proach-mo­ti­vated rea­sons for hav­ing sex (com­pared to peo­ple who were not given any in­for­ma­tion or in­struc­tions about ap­proach-mo­ti­vated sex), re­ported hav­ing sex more to pur­sue pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship out­comes and ul­ti­mately re­ported more satis­fy­ing sex­ual ex­pe­riences dur­ing that week and felt hap­pier with their over­all re­la­tion­ship.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2016/​​4/​​22/​​why-you-have-sex-mat­ters-for-your-de­sire-and-satis­fac­tion.html)

[A ma­jor­ity of men and women ad­mit feel­ing some­what at­tracted to an op­po­site-sex friend at some point, but men re­port such feel­ings sig­nifi­cantly more of­ten than women do.3 Men are also more likely to want fe­male friends for the pur­pose of ca­sual sex, and are more likely to befriend women they find phys­i­cally at­trac­tive.4 Even if they are in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship, men ad­mit that feel­ings of phys­i­cal at­trac­tion and sex­ual de­sire are im­por­tant for ini­ti­at­ing cross-sex friend­ships (phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness mat­ters less to women in choos­ing their male friends); men are also more likely to end the friend­ship if they are re­jected or de­nied sex.5 In con­trast, women re­port want­ing male friends more for so­cial and phys­i­cal pro­tec­tion (a “buffer” from the po­ten­tially creepy/​dan­ger­ous men in the dat­ing pool), al­though women also re­port want­ing this kind of pro­tec­tion from their fe­male friends as well. Like men, women will end their friend­ships with men if these needs aren’t satis­fied.4,5](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2011/​​10/​​12/​​sex­ual-strate­gies-in-cross-sex-friend­ships.html)

>In­ter­est­ingly, women are of­ten blind to the fact that their male friends are look­ing for sex to be part of the friend­ship—women un­der­es­ti­mate the de­gree to which their male friends are at­tracted to them. In con­trast, men over­es­ti­mate the de­gree to which their fe­male friends are at­tracted to them. This is part of what cre­ates the con­fu­sion and am­bi­guity in cross-sex friend­ships. Men and women are of­ten on differ­ent wave­lengths in terms of their per­ceived ro­man­tic at­trac­tion.5,6 It’s also part of the rea­son why men are so pro­tec­tive and even vi­o­lent when faced with a ri­val7

[In both stud­ies, the re­searchers found that part­ners who had greater ex­ec­u­tive con­trol sac­ri­ficed more. They searched longer for the differ­ence be­tween the iden­ti­cal pic­tures and they typed out more let­ter strings. Part­ners who re­ported more com­mit­ment on the sur­veys also sac­ri­ficed more, but ex­ec­u­tive con­trol was more strongly re­lated to their sac­ri­fic­ing be­hav­iors. Over­all, these stud­ies showed that com­mit­ment to a part­ner isn’t always enough on its own to pro­mote sac­ri­fice, es­pe­cially when the sac­ri­fice re­quires con­sid­er­able time and effort. While some­times it seems like we can effortlessly and au­to­mat­i­cally meet our part­ners’ needs, there are other times when we have to ex­ert some ex­tra men­tal effort to get past our own self-serv­ing de­sires. So, even if it might take a lit­tle ex­tra work to aban­don your Net­flix cue, the effort you put in to helping your part­ner could pay off big time for you both.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​3/​​30/​​id-do-any­thing-i-can-for-you-sac­ri­fice-re­quires-more-than-ju.html)

So, smarter part­ners are bet­ter part­ners!

[be­ing around an at­trac­tive woman can im­pair his cog­ni­tive abil­ity..… on av­er­age women are more sex­u­ally satis­fied than men....women find hu­mor at­trac­tive per­haps be­cause it shows his cog­ni­tive so­phis­ti­ca­tion and in­tel­li­gence....…women are typ­i­cally more picky about who they date than men, but that this may have more to do with dat­ing norms (i.e., men are ex­pected to ap­proach women and ask them out rather than vice versa) than with in­nate differ­ences be­tween men and women.…women were more in love ac­tu­ally ini­ti­ated sex less of­ten, per­haps as an in­vi­ta­tion for se­duc­tion...](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​3/​​27/​​10-es­sen­tial-re­la­tion­ship-les­sons-that-men-should-learn-abou.html)

So, if you want sex, avoid get­ting fallen in love with!

[In com­par­i­son to the con­trol con­di­tions, sa­vor­ing a spe­cific past pos­i­tive mo­ment led to greater pos­i­tive emo­tion in par­ti­ci­pants af­ter the re­la­tional stres­sor. But, there’s an im­por­tant catch. The sa­vor­ing task ap­pears to work mostly for those who are happy in their long dis­tance re­la­tion­ship; the re­sults mostly dis­ap­pear when peo­ple are gen­er­ally un­happy with their re­la­tion­ships.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​3/​​26/​​re­la­tional-sa­vor­ing-in-long-dis­tance-re­la­tion­ships-re­la­tions.html)

[While this study doesn’t con­clu­sively show that self-ex­pan­sion causes re­la­tion­ship qual­ity, there is strong ev­i­dence from other stud­ies4,5 that does sup­port the idea that self-ex­pan­sion im­proves re­la­tion­ship qual­ity. In short, en­gag­ing in new, in­ter­est­ing and challeng­ing ac­tivi­ties with your part­ner can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on your re­la­tion­ship over the long-haul.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​3/​​11/​​self-ex­pan­sion-a-key-for-last­ing-love.html)


[You need to show lots of ac­tive en­thu­si­asm for your part­ner’s in­ter­ests and ac­tivi­ties5 (even if per­son­ally you find them dull or bor­ing). You need to help them feel safe and pro­tected when they ex­pe­rience dis­tress.6 You need to show lots of grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for your part­ner. 7,8 You need to put aside your own self­ish goals for the good of the re­la­tion­ship (sci­en­tists call this pro-re­la­tion­ship mo­ti­va­tion),9 or to re­sist re­spond­ing with nega­tivity when your part­ner makes a mis­take10 (and ev­ery­one makes mis­takes from time to time). Th­ese are all vari­ables that are as­so­ci­ated with long-term re­la­tion­ship health, and all of it is “work,” which can be challeng­ing for many peo­ple even if they deeply love their part­ners. If you la­bel these be­hav­iors as some­thing differ­ent, that’s to­tally fine, but when all is said and done, they’re still work. If it feels re­ally good to make that kind of effort, then it sim­ply means your choices are pay­ing off.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​11/​​3/​​ben-af­fleck-was-right-re­la­tion­ships-are-hard-work-and-thats.html)

Based on that string of ev­i­dence, I think I’ll shift my goal from re­la­tion­ships, to … uhh… ca­sual...

And with that, I am left with a list of the ar­ti­cles I have yet to ex­tract con­clu­sions as they re­late to in­di­vi­d­ual, ev­i­dence-based re­la­tion­ship de­ci­sions. So, here’s what I missed:

How Hav­ing Cou­ple Friends Helps You Feel the Love - | - Science of Relationships

The Big Bang The­ory Tests “The In­ti­macy Ac­cel­er­a­tion” Pro­ce­dure - | - Science of Relationships

When Friends’ “Help” Hurts - | - Science of Relationships

| - Science of Relationships

Afraid to Ask Some­one Out? Read This. - | - Science of Relationships

How Do I Get (More) In­ti­mate With A Wo­man? - | - Science of Relationships

Could You Be Loved, and Give Love? Cul­tural Differ­ences in Pur­su­ing a Part­ner - | - Science of Relationships

The Art of Pickup: Mi­sog­yny in Ac­tion - | - Science of Relationships

When Are Pick Up Lines Most Effec­tive? - | - Science of Relationships

How Su­perfi­cial Dis­clo­sures May Hurt You: Re­la­tion­ship Mat­ters Pod­cast 44 - | - Science of Relationships

It’s Not Just About You and Me: How So­cial Net­works Im­pact Re­la­tion­ships - | - Science of Relationships

Want to In­crease Your Hap­piness? Science says… - | - Science of Relationships

How Sex Changes Across Stages in Re­la­tion­ships - | - Science of Relationships

Does Par­ent­ing Make Peo­ple Happy or Miser­able? - | - Science of Relationships

Stronger Re­la­tion­ships Make For A Stronger You - | - Science of Relationships

Got a Cold? Think Hugs, Not Drugs - | - Science of Relationships

Feel­ing Cold? How About a Ro­mance Movie? - | - Science of Relationships

Give the Gift of Si­mul­ta­neous Or­gasm This Valen­tine’s Day - | - Science of Relationships

Valen­tine’s Day Sex: Ex­tra-Spe­cial or Not-to-Be Ex­pected? - | - Science of Relationships

Self-Es­teem and Re­la­tion­ship Ini­ti­a­tion: Re­la­tion­ship Mat­ters Pod­cast 43 - | - Science of Relationships

“Sur­vey Says”: The Valen­tine’s Day Pro­posal? - | - Science of Relationships

Should You Go See the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie for Valen­tine’s Day? - | - Science of Relationships

Sur­vey Says: What Do Men Want for Valen­tine’s Day? - | - Science of Relationships

A Fem­i­nist Valen­tine - | - Science of Relationships

Self-Es­teem Affects When Peo­ple Flirt - | - Science of Relationships

Stronger Im­pulses or Less Con­trol? Why Men Suc­cumb to Sex­ual Temp­ta­tions - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #2 - How I Met Your Mother’s Cheer­leader Effect - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #3 - Feel­ing Like a Door­mat - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #4 - How Your At­tach­ment In­fluences Re­la­tion­ship Qual­ity - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #8 - Don’t Let Fear of Re­jec­tion Hold You Back - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #9 - How Re­la­tion­ship Events Im­pact You - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #12 - Does Your Part­ner Make You a Bet­ter Per­son? - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #15 - Three Pillars for Build­ing a Last­ing Re­la­tion­ship - | - Science of Relationships

2014 Edi­tors’ Choice Awards: #13 - Are There Benefits to Play­ing Match­maker? - | - Science of Relationships

“Clear for Take­off”: Tur­bu­lence in Ro­man­tic Re­la­tion­ships - | - Science of Relationships

Put­ting Your Best Foot For­ward: How Inse­cure Peo­ple At­tract Dates - | - Science of Relationships

Much Ado About Noth­ing: The Re­sult of Bi­ases about Part­ners’ Nega­tive Emo­tions - | - Science of Relationships

Should You Be My Valen­tine? Re­search Helps Iden­tify Good and Bad Ro­man­tic Re­la­tion­ships - | - Science of Relationships

“Give me a minute”...Be­fore I Be­have Badly - | - Science of Relationships

If At First You Don’t Suc­ceed: A Strat­egy for Effec­tively Steal­ing a Ro­man­tic Part­ner - | - Science of Relationships

First, Best, Worst, For­bid­den, and Re­gret­ted: Kisses and Kiss­ing - | - Science of Relationships

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Five Pre­dic­tors (and Five Not So Good Pre­dic­tors) of Re­la­tion­ship Suc­cess - | - Science of Relationships

| - Science of Relationships

Ideal and Ac­tual Mar­riage Pro­pos­als: We Asked, You An­swered - | - Science of Relationships

The Pornog­ra­phy Effect on Men and Their Ro­man­tic Re­la­tion­ships - | - Science of Relationships

Myth­bust­ing On­line Dat­ing - | - Science of Relationships

7 Ways to Use Science to Help Your Part­ner Meet His or Her Goals - | - Science of Relationships

Do Your Prefer­ences for a Ro­man­tic Part­ner In­fluence Your Ac­tual Choice of Ro­man­tic Part­ner? - | - Science of Relationships

Nega­tive Con­se­quences of Emo­tional Sup­pres­sion: Re­la­tion­ship Mat­ters Pod­cast 46 - | - Science of Relationships

Face It, Re­cover the Self to Re­cover from Break-Up - | - Science of Relationships

I (Don’t) Want 2 B w/​ U: Tex­ting, Sex­ting, and Avoidant At­tach­ment - | - Science of Relationships

The Psy­chol­ogy of At­trac­tive­ness Pod­cast—Prevent­ing Cheat­ing with “Coal­i­tional Mate Re­ten­tion” - | - Science of Relationships

Do “Birds of a Feather Go To­gether” or “Op­po­sites At­tract”? - | - Science of Relationships

Misat­tri­bu­tion in Par­adise: Would the Bach­e­lor Con­tes­tants Have Con­nected with­out all of the Arousal In­duc­ing Dates? - | - Science of Relationships

Two of a Kind?: What Face­book Pro­file Similar­ity Says About Cou­ples - | - Science of Relationships

The Ghost of Re­la­tion­ships Past - | - Science of Relationships

All Women Lie - | - Science of Relationships

Creat­ing Close­ness: In the Lab and In Real Life - | - Science of Relationships

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not? Time Will Tell - | - Science of Relationships

How Do Ro­man­tic Re­la­tion­ships Get Un­der The Skin? Per­ceived Part­ner Re­spon­sive­ness Pre­dicts Cor­ti­sol Pro­files 10 Years Later - | - Science of Relationships

Date Night Done Right: How To Max­i­mize the Effects of Spend­ing Time To­gether - | - Science of Relationships

Re­ject­ing Peo­ple is Hard to Do: Why Peo­ple Fail to Turn Down Un­wanted Dates - | - Science of Relationships

Break Up Kindly With Com­pas­sion­ate Love - | - Science of Relationships

For Bet­ter or for Worse: At­tach­ment and Re­la­tion­ships Over the Long Haul - | - Science of Relationships

In­fo­graphic: The 10 Most In­ter­est­ing Dat­ing Stud­ies of 2014 - | - Science of Relationships

Easy Love: Is it Easier for Some Peo­ple to Love than it is for Others? - | - Science of Relationships

No Means No? Read­ing Men’s and Women’s Magaz­ines Linked to Sex­ual Con­sent - | - Science of Relationships

Take Your Re­la­tion­ship to the Movies - | - Science of Relationships

An At­ti­tude of Grat­i­tude as a Re­la­tion­ship Rx - | - Science of Relationships

Get­ting Se­ri­ous About Cud­dling - | - Science of Relationships

Are You Over It? − 4%

Are You Over It?

What Kind of Sex­ual Per­son­al­ity Do You Have? - | - Science of Relationships

Have To or Want To?: De­ci­pher­ing Your Part­ner’s Mo­ti­va­tions for Helping You - | - Science of Relationships

Are “Re­bound Re­la­tion­ships” Bad? Re­la­tion­ship Mat­ters Pod­cast 36 - | - Science of Relationships

The “Awe­some­ness Fac­tor” on Freako­nomics Ra­dio - | - Science of Relationships

How Love Usu­ally Goes… - | - Science of Relationships

Hope this was use­ful be­cause a day of ded­i­cated work went into this:)

Okay, I couldn’t help but trawl through a hand­ful more:

[For ex­am­ple, we pro­posed that avoidant spouses were more likely to be­lieve that their part­ners did things for them out of a sense of obli­ga­tion, but maybe part­ners who felt obli­gated to do things for their spouses ac­tu­ally caused their spouses to be­come avoidant over time, or maybe some other fac­tor—like spouses’ lev­els of neu­roti­cism—caused them to feel avoidant, as well as to be­lieve that their part­ners did things for them out of obli­ga­tion.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​7/​​17/​​have-to-or-want-to-de­ci­pher­ing-your-part­ners-mo­ti­va­tions-for.html)

[In a study1 of nearly 750 col­lege stu­dents who re­ported on a cur­rent or re­cent ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship, 75% of peo­ple said they send text mes­sages to their part­ner “of­ten” or “very of­ten”; only 2% had never texted with a part­ner. When it came to sex­ting (i.e., send­ing sex­ual text mes­sages), 33% said they “never” sexted with their part­ners, which means that 67% had sexted at least once. Similarly, 46% said they never sent sex­u­ally ex­plicit pic­tures or videos to their part­ners, whereas 54% had done it at least once.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​4/​​13/​​i-dont-want-2-b-w-u-tex­ting-sex­ting-and-avoidant-at­tach­ment.html)

>In short, if you’re with an avoidant per­son, they might not text you much. But when they do send mes­sages, they are more likely to be sex­ual...Bet­ter make sure that SnapChat ac­count is ac­tive.

[The fre­quency of men’s pornog­ra­phy view­ing was pos­i­tively as­so­ci­ated with gen­der role con­flict, in­se­cure at­tach­ment, lower re­la­tion­ship qual­ity, and de­creased sex­ual satis­fac­tion. As the re­searchers note, how­ever, it’s difficult to de­ter­mine that porn causes these out­comes based on these re­sults. For ex­am­ple, does gen­der role con­flict lead to more anx­ious and avoidant at­tach­ment styles, which leads to more pornog­ra­phy use? Other re­search sug­gests that gen­der role so­cial­iza­tion leaves many men lack­ing re­la­tional and sex­ual skills that can lead them to pornog­ra­phy in or­der to ex­pe­rience sex­ual grat­ifi­ca­tion. Or does lower sex­ual satis­fac­tion in­crease the like­li­hood of us­ing pornog­ra­phy? Un­for­tu­nately, these data do not an­swer those ques­tions.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​6/​​8/​​the-pornog­ra­phy-effect-on-men-and-their-ro­man­tic-re­la­tion­shi.html)

[Peo­ple with lower self-es­teem per­ceived more flirty be­hav­iors than peo­ple with higher self-es­teem af­ter sort­ing re­ward-re­lated words (win!) and com­pared to when they sorted cost-re­lated words (fail!). In con­trast, peo­ple with higher self-es­teem per­ceived more flirty be­hav­iors than peo­ple with lower self-es­teem af­ter sort­ing cost-re­lated words and com­pared to when they sorted re­ward-re­lated words. In other words, peo­ple were more likely to no­tice flirt­ing when they were in cer­tain con­di­tions, and which con­di­tion they were more likely to no­tice it de­pended on their self-es­teem. Con­trary to what some might think, peo­ple with lower self-es­teem aren’t always oblivi­ous to flirt­ing cues: when re­minded of re­wards, they no­tice even more flirt­ing than peo­ple with higher self-es­teem.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​1/​​9/​​self-es­teem-af­fects-when-peo­ple-flirt.html)

>When look­ing to start a re­la­tion­ship, peo­ple with lower self-es­teem do bet­ter when re­minded of po­ten­tial re­wards, like ac­cep­tance, whereas peo­ple with higher self-es­teem do bet­ter when re­minded of po­ten­tial costs, like re­jec­tion.

Other kin re­deemed! [when par­ti­ci­pants were asked to read ex­cerpts from the Twilight se­ries, they re­ported be­com­ing (or in­cor­po­rat­ing into their self-con­cept as­pects of) vam­pires, and those who read from the Harry Pot­ter se­ries re­ported be­com­ing wiz­ards! More­over, par­ti­ci­pants who in­cor­po­rated as­pects of these nar­ra­tives into their own self-con­cepts re­ported in­creased life satis­fac­tion and im­proved mood.2](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​2/​​10/​​should-you-go-see-the-fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-for-valenti.html).

>peo­ple who fre­quently im­merse them­selves in ro­man­tic me­dia (movies, TV shows, books, etc.) are more likely to hold un­re­al­is­tic be­liefs about re­la­tion­ships. En­dors­ing er­ro­neous ideals, like be­liev­ing that sex should be perfect ev­ery time and that in good re­la­tion­ships part­ners can read each other’s minds, un­for­tu­nately leaves peo­ple ill-equipped for re­al­ity. Rather, in­di­vi­d­u­als may find that their real life re­la­tion­ships fail to live up to their lofty be­liefs, lead­ing to lower satisfaction

>Think you are out of the woods just be­cause you are cur­rently sin­gle? Well, think again. In an­other study, par­ti­ci­pants were ex­posed to ei­ther a ro­man­tic com­edy (in this case, Serendipity), or a non-ro­man­tic movie and then asked to rate their over­all level of satis­fac­tion with their cur­rent (or most re­cent) re­la­tion­ship. Com­pared to the sin­gles in the non-ro­man­tic con­di­tion, sin­gle par­ti­ci­pants who saw the Rom-Com re­ported sig­nifi­cantly less satis­fac­tion with their pre­vi­ous relationship

>Quite pos­si­bly, ex­po­sure to re­la­tion­ship me­dia may lower satis­fac­tion as the re­sult of up­ward so­cial com­par­i­sons (i.e., com­par­ing the self to some­one bet­ter off).5 Let’s be hon­est, as a billion­aire, philan­thropist, and sex god, Chris­tian Grey sets the bar pretty high. Of course, Anas­ta­sia’s pu­rity, in­tel­li­gence, and phys­i­cal re­spon­sive­ness also ex­ceeds nor­mal ex­pec­ta­tions. By com­par­i­son, most real life part­ners (past or pre­sent) may be found lack­ing.

[had the strange plea­sure of at­tend­ing their weekly meet­ings, sit­ting in on coach­ing ses­sions, and watch­ing “stu­dents” ap­proach woman af­ter woman (of­ten­times try­ing out lines like, “Hey, nice shoes, wanna f***?”). As I listened to them ob­sess over why their strate­gies worked on some women but not oth­ers, I couldn’t help but won­der the same thing—and I also couldn’t help but won­der why these men found as­sertive re­la­tion­ship ini­ti­a­tion strate­gies to be so ap­peal­ing in the first place.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2012/​​11/​​26/​​the-art-of-pickup-mi­sog­yny-in-ac­tion.html)

>Re­cently, re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Kansas ad­dressed pre­cisely these ques­tions by con­duct­ing two large on­line sur­veys, one in­volv­ing col­lege stu­dents and one drawn from the broader pop­u­la­tion.2 To do this, they first asked men and women about their will­ing­ness to en­gage in ca­sual or short-term sex (or, in re­search-speak, their so­cio­sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion), as well as their feel­ings of hos­tile sex­ism (an­tipa­thy to­ward women based on the no­tion that men ought to have more power than women) and benev­olent sex­ism (sub­jec­tively pos­i­tive yet stereo­typic be­liefs about women which high­light the role of men as providers). Then, the re­searchers asked the men about how of­ten they used as­sertive mat­ing strate­gies, and they asked the women to in­di­cate the ex­tent to which they found such strate­gies ap­peal­ing. The spe­cific as­sertive mat­ing strate­gies that the re­searchers fo­cused on were the use of teas­ing or “neg­ging,” at­tempts to iso­late the fe­male “tar­get” from her friends, and the ten­dency to di­rectly com­pete with other men for a woman’s at­ten­tion.

>The re­searchers found a similar pat­tern for women—speci­fi­cally, those who held more hos­tile be­liefs about women and those who were more will­ing to have ca­sual sex found the use of as­sertive strate­gies to be more de­sir­able. In­ter­est­ingly, women who scored higher on benev­olent sex­ism were also more re­cep­tive to as­sertive ini­ti­a­tion tech­niques. Ba­si­cally, it seems that women who hold stereo­typic views about their own gen­der—whether sub­jec­tively pos­i­tive or nega­tive—tend to be more open to as­sertive courtship strate­gies, as such tech­niques may serve to re­con­firm their pre-ex­ist­ing be­liefs about women’s place in the world (and, by ex­ten­sion, how women should be treated by men).

Ex­tra +2 points if you no­tice that this ex­plains why pickup seems to lead to val­i­da­tions of the Red Pill the­o­ries. Bi­ased sam­ples! And, why fem­i­nist cir­cles prob­a­bly val­i­date the op­po­site!

>So, ladies, be­fore you worry your pretty lit­tle heads about be­com­ing the next notch on your lo­cal Casanova’s bed­post, think about whether or not you ac­tu­ally find these types of come-ons to be at­trac­tive. If you don’t, chances are you won’t find them ap­peal­ing when you’re the re­cip­i­ent of one, ei­ther.

[Devel­op­ing in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships is in­deed very challeng­ing, and de­spite all the self-help books and opinions out there, there is no true “for­mula” to make it work.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2013/​​1/​​7/​​how-do-i-get-more-in­ti­mate-with-a-woman.html)

>Re­la­tion­ship sci­ence does tell us, how­ever, that differ­ent strate­gies tend to pro­mote in­ti­macy de­vel­op­ment bet­ter at differ­ent stages of relationships

>women con­sis­tently pre­fer men taller than them­selves. Why? Peo­ple as­so­ci­ate pos­i­tive traits with height. For ex­am­ple, taller men are per­ceived as hav­ing more sta­tus, lead­er­ship qual­ities, and fear­less­ness.1 Other data sug­gest that shorter men date women closer to their own height; while this may shrink your pool of el­i­gible part­ners,2 you may have more suc­cess dat­ing women who are close to your own height.

> am­bi­tion and at­trac­tive­ness are very ap­peal­ing to women who are seek­ing a long-term re­la­tion­ship.3

> I per­son­ally have dated men who used their con­fi­dence, witty sense of hu­mor, and re­laxed ap­proached to dat­ing in ways that made me want to get to know them bet­ter. For ex­am­ple, I once had a date with a guy who I would rate about a 5 or 6 out of 10 in fa­cial at­trac­tive­ness, but he was phys­i­cally fit, took good care of him­self (nice hair­cut, healthy skin, dressed nice), and was very funny in our con­ver­sa­tion over coffee. He came across as con­fi­dent, se­cure, and gen­uinely happy. This was very ap­peal­ing and made me find him more at­trac­tive than at first blush. Here is where the say­ing “beauty is in the eye of the be­holder” be­comes rele­vant: at­trac­tion de­vel­ops over time, so at­trac­tive­ness is rel­a­tive rather than ob­jec­tive.

[>Per­haps more im­por­tantly, the re­search demon­strated that these pos­i­tive effects are great­est when cou­ples pur­pose­fully en­gage in shared ac­tivi­ties. In other words, shared ac­tivi­ties are most benefi­cial when cou­ples want to spend time to­gether and are both ded­i­cated to the ac­tivity. Hav­ing one part­ner tag along when the other is do­ing some­thing he or she finds in­ter­est­ing is less benefi­cial. In fact, drag­ging your part­ner to do things that only in­ter­est you can back­fire by caus­ing stress in the re­la­tion­ship.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​10/​​date-night-done-right-how-to-max­i­mize-the-effects-of-spendin.html)

[early re­search on grat­i­tude1 has shown that com­pared to hap­piness, grat­i­tude made peo­ple re­call more pos­i­tive qual­ities of a bene­fac­tor, feel closer to the bene­fac­tor, and de­sire to spend more time with that per­son in the fu­ture.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​8/​​11/​​an-at­ti­tude-of-grat­i­tude-as-a-re­la­tion­ship-rx.html)

>On the flip side of grat­i­tude lurks in­debt­ed­ness, the feel­ing of obli­ga­tion to re­pay some­one for a benefit that he or he has pro­vided. While an in­di­vi­d­ual may ex­pe­rience ei­ther grat­i­tude or in­debt­ed­ness af­ter hav­ing re­ceived a benefit, only grat­i­tude is as­so­ci­ated with pos­i­tive emo­tions; in fact, in­debt­ed­ness is linked to nega­tive emo­tions such as guilt.1 In­debt­ed­ness drives peo­ple to re­solve a debt in or­der to feel bet­ter but un­like grat­i­tude, does not fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­nal re­la­tion­ships.

>In the study, ro­man­tic part­ners in­de­pen­dently com­pleted nightly di­aries to record their own and their part­ner’s thought­ful ac­tions, emo­tional re­sponses to in­ter­ac­tions with their part­ner, and re­la­tion­ship well-be­ing that day. As ex­pected, thought­ful be­hav­iors pre­dicted feel­ings of grat­i­tude, which in turn in­creased feel­ings of re­la­tion­ship satis­fac­tion and con­nec­tion. More­over, it did not mat­ter whether peo­ple ac­tu­ally re­ported do­ing some­thing kind for their part­ner – as long as the part­ner per­ceived car­ing be­hav­iors sand re­sponded with grat­i­tude on a given day, the bene­fac­tor got a boost from the ap­pre­ci­a­tion and both part­ners ap­praised the re­la­tion­ship more pos­i­tively over­all. “A key ques­tion for re­la­tion­ships re­search is to un­der­stand how happy cou­ples stay happy,2” Al­goe said. “Be­cause we were able to show in­creases in re­la­tion­ship eval­u­a­tions from one day to the next, ex­pe­rienc­ing grat­i­tude to­ward a part­ner on a given day may be one of the an­swers.”

>Feel­ings of in­debt­ed­ness, on the other hand, did not pre­dict par­ti­ci­pants’ re­la­tion­ship well-be­ing. “The ‘booster shot’ effects were only found for grat­i­tude,” Al­goe ex­plains. “This is illu­mi­nat­ing be­cause peo­ple some­times mis­tak­enly think these two emo­tional states are and do the same thing. This er­ror has his­tor­i­cally short-changed us on our un­der­stand­ing of grat­i­tude be­cause grat­i­tude re­search has been based in the­ory about in­debt­ed­ness2.”

Maybe you can ask your part­ner how he/​she feels about each of your ac­tions to­day—it’s a gam­ble if they frame it as a debt, but if you prime them with a grat­i­tude poster, then it could be a pow­er­ful, al­tru­is­tic act.

>Al­goe ar­gues that con­tinued re­search on grat­i­tude is valuable be­cause, like other pos­i­tive emo­tions, it is thought to be adap­tive from an evolu­tion­ary stand­point, helping us to “find, re­mind, and bind” our­selves to peo­ple who care about us.

Re­mem­ber the ev­i­dence on movies be­ing bad for re­la­tion­ships?

[Could some­thing as sim­ple as watch­ing movies help your re­la­tion­ship? One-hun­dred-sev­enty-four en­gaged or newly­wed cou­ples were ran­domly as­signed to one of two in­tense re­la­tion­ship work­shops, or to watch and re­flect on re­la­tion­ship movies (e.g., Love Story) fea­tur­ing re­la­tion­ship be­hav­iors such as stress, for­give­ness, sup­port, and con­flict, or a no treat­ment ‘busi­ness as usual’ con­trol con­di­tion. Cou­ples in the movie con­di­tion watched and dis­cussed one movie a week for a month. Three years later all three treat­ment groups (both work­shops and the movie group) ex­pe­rienced less re­la­tion­ship dis­solu­tion (11%) com­pared to cou­ples in the no treat­ment con­di­tion (24%). All three treat­ments had similar benefits, which sug­gests that sim­ply watch­ing and dis­cussing movies can help pro­tect your re­la­tion­ship](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​8/​​20/​​take-your-re­la­tion­ship-to-the-movies.html)

So, if movies are *re­flected upon and­dis­cussed* then they have a pos­i­tive effect. I won­der if sim­ply re­flect­ing and dis­cussing upon movies *not* seen to­gether has that effect?

[When you start dat­ing, am­bigu­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tion, flirt­ing, and sar­casm can be difficult to de­ci­pher when you are just get­ting to know some­one. Th­ese com­mu­ni­ca­tion tac­tics can lead to anx­iety and un­cer­tainty, which makes it challeng­ing for feel­ings of trust to de­velop. For ex­am­ple, the use of sar­casm may be hard to in­ter­pret with some­one new with­out know­ing the other per­son’s in­ten­tions. Are they mak­ing fun of you? Are they just kid­ding? Un­less you can take some risks, how­ever, pick your­self up from any failures that you en­counter, and take your time get­ting to know the peo­ple you are dat­ing, any promis­ing re­la­tion­ship you ini­ti­ate will never be nur­tured into some­thing more. While I can­not speak for all women about what ex­actly would make them want to be­come phys­i­cally in­ti­mate with you, mak­ing your­self as at­tac­tive to a woman as pos­si­ble, mak­ing her feel good about her time with you, and not rush­ing things too fast will put you in a good po­si­tion to take things in the di­rec­tion you are want­ing to go. So, my ad­vice is to take your time and re­frame your ex­pec­ta­tions to per­ceive dat­ing as an ad­ven­ture in self-growth. You will find, over time, that dat­ing will get eas­ier, and with any luck, fun!](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2013/​​1/​​7/​​how-do-i-get-more-in­ti­mate-with-a-woman.html)

[hile some of the date cards cast mem­bers were given led to pri­vate din­ners and fan­tasy suites (think rose petals, cham­pagne, and pri­vate ho­tel rooms), a large num­ber of the dates in­volved more ac­tive plans, such as wrestling matches, bungee jump­ing, danc­ing at a club, and jet skiing. Peo­ple seemed to be re­ally into each other on the dates, but would of­ten ques­tion their feel­ings shortly af­ter when back on the serene beach. Was the post-date let­down be­cause there were so many good look­ing unattached peo­ple around to pull their at­ten­tion away from the part­ner they just went on a date with? Or was it some­thing more—per­haps some­thing phys­iolog­i­cal?](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2015/​​9/​​24/​​mis­at­tri­bu­tion-in-par­adise-would-the-bach­e­lor-con­tes­tants-ha.html)

>You may be fa­mil­iar with the Dut­ton and Aron1 bridge study which tested the idea of mis­at­tri­bu­tion of arousal, in which the arousal ex­pe­rienced in a par­tic­u­lar set­ting (e.g., while on a shaky bridge) is mis­la­beled and as­so­ci­ated with some­thing else.2 Other stud­ies have repli­cated the arousal-at­trac­tion link find­ing that cou­ples want to be near each other more af­ter watch­ing a high arousal movie, com­pared to a low arousal movie.3 In an­other study, par­ti­ci­pants were ap­proached as they were wait­ing on the line for a rol­ler coaster ride or af­ter they had just got­ten off. They were asked to rate the at­trac­tive­ness of an av­er­age, op­po­site gen­dered pic­ture of a per­son and the per­son they were plan­ning to sit with or had sat next to on the ride. Re­sults demon­strated that for those who weren’t with a ro­man­tic part­ner, at­trac­tive­ness rat­ings for both the seat mate and pic­ture in­creased for those who had just got­ten off the ride.4

So Luna Park dates are in, and high arousal ac­tivi­ties are bet­ter than low arousal movies.

[When we say “arousal,” we are refer­ring to things like alert­ness, en­gage­ment, and a height­ened level of phys­i­cal ac­tivity, such as an ele­vated heart rate.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2011/​​4/​​15/​​scream-4-a-good-date-movie.html)

>Watch­ing a scary movie is a prime ex­am­ple of some­thing that could ele­vate your arousal level; imag­ine your re­ac­tion to watch­ing Scream com­pared to Han­nah Mon­tana. The hor­ror flick is much more likely to have you cow­er­ing in your seat due to arousal. It turns out that you are primed to be at­tracted to peo­ple you meet when you are ex­pe­rienc­ing higher lev­els of arousal, es­pe­cially when you don’t even know it.

So MEETING peo­ple at a theme park, or movie the­atre, could be great! Or, a ge­ol­ogy field trip! Or school when you’re young!

>The psy­chol­o­gists who con­ducted this ex­per­i­ment, Don­ald Dut­ton and Arthur Aron,1 wanted to see if the shaky bridge led the males in their study to ex­press greater at­trac­tion to the fe­male ex­per­i­menter. Be­fore we get to the find­ings, re­ally imag­ine your­self cross­ing the shaky bridge…you feel a bit ner­vous and un­sure of your­self, your heart is beat­ing, your stom­ach feels a bit queasy, and you are sweat­ing just a bit—the fear of plung­ing to your death has a way of do­ing that. This phys­iolog­i­cal re­sponse is likely a rea­son­able re­ac­tion for a bridge cross­ing, but it also sounds an awful lot like a first date and watch­ing a hor­ror movie.

Also sounds like you’d cling to a se­cure per­son!

[Though many as­sume that re­bound re­la­tion­ships are a bad idea, par­ti­ci­pants in re­bound re­la­tion­ships felt more con­fi­dent about their de­sir­a­bil­ity as a part­ner and showed signs of let­ting go of any feel­ings they had for their ex-part­ners.](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​7/​​11/​​are-re­bound-re­la­tion­ships-bad-re­la­tion­ship-mat­ters-pod­cast-3.html)

Re­bound re­la­tion­ships are great and should be de-stig­ma­tised! ‘Of you’re the re­bound guy’ - ‘great!’

[To love at all is to be vuln­er­a­ble](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​10/​​25/​​how-love-usu­ally-goes.html)

[What makes a differ­ence in who stays to­gether and who breaks up. And the num­ber one fac­tor was a big sur­prise to ev­ery­one con­duct­ing the study. It wasn’t com­mit­ment, or love, or trust, or the things that you’d ex­pect. It was some­thing called the “awe­some­ness fac­tor.” That’s what I call it. It was ac­tu­ally called “pos­i­tive illu­sions… but I like to call it the awe­some­ness fac­tor be­cause the crite­ria was ba­si­cally that you think your part­ner is great, you think your re­la­tion­ship is kind of bet­ter than all your friends’ re­la­tion­ships, but you wouldn’t tell them that. And you feel like your part­ner is close to like your quirky sense of ideal for you. And it didn’t just mat­ter in dat­ing. It ac­tu­ally also mat­tered in mar­riage. One study that looked at newly­weds and kind of eval­u­ated this fac­tor found that three years later satis­fac­tion had dropped for ev­ery­body, ex­cept, one group. Guess who it was? The peo­ple who had a high awe­some­ness fac­tor the day they walked down the aisle. And I just cel­e­brated my third wed­ding an­niver­sary, so I can give an anec­dote.”](http://​​www.theze­ros­be­foretheone.com/​​does-your-re­la­tion­ship-have-the-awe­some­ness-fac­tor-you-bet­ter-hope-so)

So, date peo­ple li­able to pos­i­tive illu­sions!

If you don’t want your heart bro­ken, ba­si­cally, date peo­ple with rose tinted glasses!

This next one ap­plies to me cause I re­cently told off a girl I was dat­ing for her drink­ing/​drugs and she got on the offen­sive about me be­ing judge­men­tal and broke things off. She said it wasn’t the only rea­son though, but it was a clean es­ca­la­tion from there. [Peo­ple in this study re­ported en­gag­ing in two differ­ent types of strate­gies to change their part­ner’s drink­ing. Some in­di­vi­d­u­als pri­mar­ily pun­ished their part­ners for drink­ing (e.g., yel­ling, nag­ging, with­hold­ing sex) whereas oth­ers pri­mar­ily re­warded their part­ners for not drink­ing (e.g., sug­gest­ing fun non-drink­ing events, prais­ing for not drink­ing). The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween be­liev­ing one’s part­ner had a drink­ing prob­lem and poorer re­la­tion­ship qual­ity oc­curred partly be­cause of the use of pun­ish­ing strate­gies, but not be­cause of re­ward strate­gies. In other words, part of the rea­son why think­ing one’s part­ner drinks too much is a prob­lem for the re­la­tion­ship is be­cause one en­gages in pun­ish­ment be­hav­ior, but not be­cause of re­ward be­hav­ior. Also, al­though pun­ish­ing strate­gies were as­so­ci­ated with worse re­la­tion­ship out­comes, re­ward­ing strate­gies were not](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​7/​​7/​​is-your-part­ner-drink­ing-your-re­la­tion­ship-to-death-drink­ing.html) Now I know! Re­ward, not pun­ish. This is a gen­eral maxim in be­havi­oural in­fluence any­way, but I failed to take it on board. I’ve been too con­di­tioned my­self :) [Stud­ies also com­monly show that re­la­tion­ship satis­fac­tion gen­er­ally de­clines over time.3](http://​​www.sci­ence­ofre­la­tion­ships.com/​​home/​​2014/​​9/​​17/​​for-bet­ter-or-for-worse-at­tach­ment-and-re­la­tion­ships-over-th.html) As the pickup artist say: ‘at­trac­tion has an ex­pira­tion date’

**Misc un­sorted notes**


>Some time ago, I wrote a post about how sin­gle peo­ple can read­ily call to mind all of the traits and fea­tures that they are look­ing for in a mate, yet these prefer­ences seem to go right out the win­dow when peo­ple make real-life dat­ing de­ci­sions. Re­search con­sis­tently shows that what peo­ple say they want in a part­ner has vir­tu­ally no bear­ing on who they ac­tu­ally choose to date in a lab­o­ra­tory set­ting.1,2 And yet, once peo­ple are in es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ships, they are hap­pier with those re­la­tion­ships when their part­ners match their ideals.2,3,4 In other words, we all know what we want in a ro­man­tic part­ner, but we of­ten fail to choose dat­ing part­ners based on those prefer­ences. This is de­spite the fact that choos­ing ro­man­tic part­ners who pos­sess the traits that we pre­fer would prob­a­bly make us hap­pier in the long run. Clearly, the hu­man mate se­lec­tion pro­cess and our de­ci­sions about our part­ners have room for im­prove­ment.


So con­sciously pre­spec­ify the thresh­old traits you want in a ro­man­tic part­ner:


For me, that’s..erm that’s harder than the re­searchers suggest



*


6. Don’t in­terfere un­nec­es­sar­ily10


>Some­times your part­ner may not want or need your help. Pro­vid­ing help that isn’t needed or wanted can be viewed as threat­en­ing to the self and may make peo­ple feel that their part­ner doesn’t have faith in them11 or can make them feel in­debted to the giver.12


>7. Be subtle


>Peo­ple some­times re­spond nega­tively to ob­vi­ous efforts to help, so pro­vid­ing help in a way that is in­di­rect and less no­tice­able can be effec­tive. When the re­cip­i­ent doesn’t re­al­ize they’ve been helped, it avoids the po­ten­tial nega­tive con­se­quences of feel­ing con­trol­led, in­debted, or threat­ened. In one study, law stu­dents study­ing for the bar ex­am­i­na­tion felt more anx­ious on days on which they be­lieved their ro­man­tic part­ners had pro­vided emo­tional sup­port, and less anx­ious on days when they be­lieved the part­ners had not pro­vided any emo­tional sup­port, but their ro­man­tic part­ners claimed that they had.13



Don’t provide help un­less your part­ner knows you already have faith in them


*


>This re­search pro­vides in­sight into why some peo­ple con­tinue to be lonely: they think that they are ex­press­ing more in­ter­est in oth­ers than they re­ally are; that their ner­vous­ness is more ob­vi­ous than it re­ally is; and that oth­ers will take their nerves into ac­count (when, in re­al­ity, oth­ers in­ter­pret their be­hav­ior as in­di­cat­ing dis­in­ter­est). Fur­ther­more, peo­ple fail to con­sider the fact that the per­son with whom they’re in­ter­act­ing might also be wor­ried about re­jec­tion and that the other per­son might also be hold­ing back. So the next time you find your­self talk­ing to some­one you’re in­ter­ested in and you are wor­ried about be­ing re­jected, re­mem­ber that your in­ter­est might not be very ob­vi­ous and that the other per­son might be wor­ried about re­jec­tion, too.


*


>Con­sider an­other ex­am­ple: from Bob’s per­spec­tive, if he asks Anne what she’s do­ing next week­end, then he feels like he’s con­vey­ing his ro­man­tic in­ter­est in a di­rect man­ner; but if she asks him what he’s do­ing next week­end, then to him that could mean any­thing and doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that she’s ro­man­ti­cally in­ter­ested in him. In other words, Bob is giv­ing differ­ent ex­pla­na­tions for his own be­hav­ior in com­par­i­son to Anne’s be­hav­ior, even though Anne’s be­hav­ing in the ex­act same way as him.


*


Ini­ti­a­tive wins:


>Peo­ple in gen­eral tend to think that they are more likely to be ner­vous than oth­ers when ini­ti­at­ing a re­la­tion­ship and that they are more likely than oth­ers to not pur­sue a re­la­tion­ship with some­one due to fear of re­jec­tion.2 This ten­dency for peo­ple to think that they’re the only ones who fear re­jec­tion can af­fect their be­hav­ior and how they in­ter­pret the be­hav­ior of oth­ers.


>When peo­ple are un­sure about whether or not an­other per­son is ro­man­ti­cally in­ter­ested, and they’re ner­vous about it, they might do things like de­cide to wait for the other per­son to make the first move2 or with­draw (e.g., stop talk­ing) with the hopes that the other per­son will pur­sue them.


*


>So Bob plays it cool, think­ing that his in­ter­est is ob­vi­ous to Anne, and waits to see if Anne will ask him out. Anne, who is in­ter­ested in Bob, is also wor­ried about be­ing re­jected, and so she also plays it cool and waits to see if Bob will ask her out. They are both hold­ing back be­cause they each fear re­jec­tion, but be­cause nei­ther of them make a move, they both as­sume each is dis­in­ter­ested in the other. They also both think their wor­ries about re­jec­tion and in­ter­est in dat­ing are ob­vi­ous. Alas


*


>Is your script for your fu­ture re­la­tion­ship the same as hers? Does her cul­ture heav­ily em­pha­size a mate’s earn­ing ca­pac­ity and am­bi­tion? Does your cul­tural em­pha­size good looks and at­trac­tive­ness? Re­search shows that women from coun­tries where fe­males have the least abil­ity to gain power on their own through jobs and ed­u­ca­tion are more likely to seek out a mate with ma­te­rial re­sources.3 This might be the source of some of the “ma­te­ri­al­is­tic” vibe you are get­ting from her, and it sounds like this is some­thing that both­ers you. You may want to ex­plore these ex­pec­ta­tions very care­fully to­gether to make sure you are on the same page re­gard­ing each other’s hopes for your fu­ture.


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>Over­con­fi­dence is par­tic­u­larly a prob­lem in re­la­tion to com­monly held mis­con­cep­tions. Here one might ex­pect that over­con­fi­dence always in­terferes with learn­ing from our mis­takes but this is not always the case.

**>It seems that we are more likely to re­mem­ber an er­ror if we were ini­tially con­fi­dent we were cor­rect, com­pared to er­rors re­sult­ing from a guess.**


Over­con­fi­dence is best



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>Alter­na­tively (and per­haps more up­lift­ingly), those who re­main in longer re­la­tion­ships with in­se­curely at­tached part­ners may have more faith in their part­ners’ po­ten­tial to im­prove over time (that is, they have strong “growth” be­liefs7), which might al­low them to per­se­vere in the re­la­tion­ship and make an effort to help their part­ners learn to en­joy higher qual­ity re­la­tion­ship ex­pe­riences.


*


>TL;DR—Wor­ried about re­jec­tion & hold­ing back? Your ro­man­tic in­ten­tions might not be ob­vi­ous, peo­ple prob­a­bly aren’t think­ing about your anx­iety, & oth­ers might be hold­ing back their ro­man­tic interest