Tag Archives: love

What makes us happy on Valentine’s Day?

Cut-out book of Valentines circa 1940.

Valentine’s Day was established in honor of three early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, but today people celebrate romantic love or love more generally.  Since romance is so salient on this holiday, people who are single can feel ostracized and sometimes motivated to support an anti-love mantra.  I wonder if the second biggest Hallmark holiday is really worth the hype (either for or against). Is love or a partner really what makes people happy in life?

Perhaps one of the answers can be found by looking at one of the current hot topics in social psychology research: the intersection of emotion regulation and well being.  A quick look at the latest program from the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology reveals numerous talks and posters on the topic of mindfulness and emotion regulation.

A recent paper points to the importance of the perspective from which people try to adaptively reflect on their feelings.  According to Ayduk and Kross (2010), participants who analyzed negative experiences from a self-distanced perspective (versus a self-immersed perspective) were less likely to ruminate and reported less negative emotions.  Maybe people’s affective experiences on Valentine’s Day have more to do with how they think about their lives and less about relationship status.

Read more:

Ayduk, Ö. and Kross, E. (2010). Analyzing negative experiences without ruminating: The role of self-distancing in enabling adaptive self-reflection. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 841–854.

Meditation vs. Medication: Which Should You Choose?

“I” love “you”

By Erica Zaiser

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and so many couples may be reflecting on the status of their relationship. If you aren’t already over-thinking what every little thing your partner does (or doesn’t do) this season means, here is yet another way in which you can dissect the quality of your relationship during your romantic evening. Or, at the very least, this might give you something interesting to talk about with your date when you realize you have nothing in common but already paid for two overpriced three-course Valentine’s Day meals.

According to recent research on the language of couples, the words used when a couple discusses their relationship can be indicative of their satisfaction in the relationship and its longevity. In studies looking at daily Instant Messaging conversations between couples, researchers found that the pronouns used most could predict both satisfaction with a partner and the likelihood that the relationship would still be intact 6 months later. For women, their use of “I” was most related to satisfaction with their partner. But men’s use of “me” suggested a small negative relationship with their partner’s satisfaction with them. Although negative emotion words had no relation to satisfaction or stability, the use of positive emotion words by men was related to increased satisfaction for both partners and an increased chance of relationship survival.

There is other research suggesting that the use of “I” can be beneficial over “you” because “you” can be blaming while “I” is self-reflective, but this research shows that there may be gender differences between the perception of and meaning behind pronoun choice. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that word choice by couples is context dependent. Using “you” when discussing the relationship is very different from the use of “you” in normal everyday conversation.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Try not to spend the whole evening with your date (if you are lucky enough to have one) counting their “you”s and “I”s.

Read more: Am “I” more important than “you”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reasons for love

By Kevin R. Betts

In a recent CNN article, columnist Stephanie Dolgoff attempted to describe the reasons why she had fallen in (and out) of love with each of her intimate partners since the age of sixteen. For me, the most interesting part of this article was that the author was able to identify these reasons. It seems that many people think that love is something that just happens. Can one have reasons for love? Should one have reasons for love?

Although many laypersons may be unaware of the reasons they fell in love with their past and present partners, reasons do exist. Robert Solomon attempted to capture some of these reasons in a 2002 article entitled, “Reasons for Love” (I borrowed the title). One unsurprising reason is attraction. Although looks in and of themselves may not sustain love over time, they produce a willingness to consider the possibility of being in love with another. Rationalization may also lead to love. When we consider the possibility of falling in love, we may justify the positive emotions we experience with our beloved with reasons for those emotions. These reasons may or may not be accurate; rather, it is the perception that reasons exist that matters. Love in and of itself may also be a reason for love. Solomon (2002) describes a common movie scene in which the protagonist makes a list with two columns. In the left column, he writes down all the reasons to leave his lover. In the right column, he writes, “I love her!” Simply feeling that one is in love may be reason to continue loving someone. One may also fall in love because of properties of the beloved. Properties may include things like attractiveness as described above, but they may also include things like a sense of humor, wit, or charm. Or more commonly, some combination of features may lead to love.

In this brief post, I only covered a subset of the reasons for love identified by Solomon (2002). What is interesting to me is not the specific reasons why love comes to fruition, but rather that reasons exist. For those of you in serious relationships, why do you love your partner? Can you identify the reasons for your love or do you “just know” you love them?

Read more:

Love lessons from bad breakups (CNN)

Solomon, R.C. (2002). Reasons for love. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 32, 1-28.

View other posts by Kevin R. Betts

Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

man woman hands holding broken heartLove is a miracle and happy romantic relationships might be the best gift for most people in the world. In fairy story, marriage is always the ultimate happy ending of romantic relationship. In reality, about 2.4 million American couples marry each year; during the same time period, half or more of these marriages fail as the result of the departure or death of a partner, most often during the second to sixth years of marriage (US census bureau, 2005). What happens when the sweet dream of marriage falls into pieces?

A new study shows that divorce or losing a spouse to death can exact an immediate and long-lasting toll on mental and physical gains, even after remarriage. Romantic relationships don’t end easily because they involve the investment of one’s time and feelings, the exchange of powerful rewards, and commitment. However, once the romantic relationships end up, people will experience not only the loss of caring, affective support, intimacy, and companionate love, but also extremely stressful and miserable feeling of pain, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. Besides, people ignore their health; they’re less likely to go to the doctor; they’re less likely to exercise; they’re sleeping poorly. Remarriage helps people get back on a healthy trajectory, but it puts people back on a healthy trajectory from a lower point, because they didn’t take care of themselves for a long time! Divorce operates like a traumatic event in one’s life; it damages not only your romantic relationship, but also your health.

Speed-DatingMSNBC news: Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

Speed-DatingP. F. Moffitt, N. D. Spence, & R. D. Goldney. (2006). Mental health in marriage: The roles of need for affiliation, sensitivity to rejection, and other factors

Speed-DatingA. Mastekaasa (2006). Is marriage/cohabitation beneficial for young people?