SOURCE CREDIT: The Deceptive Power of Love’s First Moments: Published on July 13, 2012 by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. in Resolution, Not Conflict at Psychology Today
New love is the ultimate turn on. In the first moments and days of love, the neuro-chemicals that create feelings of happiness all explode out the starter gate. But does an explosion of happiness chemicals that triggers the thought “I want this person to be in my life forever!” necessarily mean that you and your new love would in fact make good chemistry together forever?Before you make a mad dash to the altar, better read on.
Why do decisions to marry that are made in the early exciting stage of love, the stage of infatuation, so often turn out to be a big mistake?
I recently read an exceptionally clear explanation.
Source Credit: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
By Andrea F. Polard, Psy.D. on September 5, 2013 – 11:56am
It really should not have taken academic psychology so long to determine the key factors to happiness, especially because the results weren’t that surprising.* Money, beauty, and success are not quintessential, while compassionate giving of our money, appreciation of our actual looks, and the pursuit of personally meaningful goals are. Waiting for our parents to love us finally perpetuates feelings of being a victim while letting go of the past, forgiveness and gratitude propagate joy in the present. This is old news for psych-savvy people such as you and me, right?
But here is another piece of the puzzle, based on the findings of the truly long longitudinal and still on-going Harvard Grant Study that began in 1939. The study followed 268 male students for 78 years. The researchers predicted falsely that the students with masculine body types would become most successful. As it turns out, neither that, nor their socioeconomic circumstances, nor the students’ IQ correlated highest with success. It came as a surprise that something much more mundane mattered the most, something every Beatle fan and good parent has been suspecting all along: Love. Yes, it is true and supported by data now, “All we need is love.” Those men who had a warm mother or good sibling relationships earned a significantly higher income than their less fortunate counterparts.
Now back to happiness. The director of the study from 1966 to 2004, George E. Vaillant, looked at eight more accomplishments that went beyond mere monetary success. These were four items pertaining to mental and physical health and four to social supports and relationships. They all correlated with love, that is with a loving childhood, ones empathic capacity and warm relationships. Vaillant,
“In short it was a history of warm intimate relationships- and the ability to foster them in maturity- that predicted flourishing…”
“This is not good news,” you may say if you were heavily unloved in your past. But there is another important lesson to be learned from this grand Grant study. People can change. (So there, pessimists of the world!). In fact, it is never too late to learn how to give and receive love. The study shows that those students who were not loved in childhood but learned to give and receive love later on in their lives could overcome their disadvantage.
This is where I can relate. I had to overcome a mountain of problems, cross the desert without a drop of hope, face and embrace my fears and come out of my turtle shell, step by step, kiss by kiss, and frog by frog. It was tough, but I made it. In the end, I dared to be with a man who had something to give and who wasn’t afraid of my love either. By now, our three lucky beloved tadpoles are slowly growing into frogs themselves.
Why though does love heal almost all wounds and drive us right into happiness? I think mostly for two reasons, something I hope to see supported by data some day. First, being loved reduces our fear of the uncertainty in life. Scarcity, loss, pain will happen, but when we are being loved, all those difficulties seem surmountable. In fact, with the right support, difficulties can be viewed as opportunities for growth instead of as terrible monsters lurking in the dark. Second, loving others focuses our mind on something greater than our little Egos. Love brings out the best in us. Who’s been known to rise to the occasion and act nobly when thinking of oneself? We become creative inventers, noble knights and heroines when we dare to care for someone else but us.
So love is it. What’s left to do is nothing short of engaging in a life-long learning process about how to form and maintain relationships. And don’t forget that love comes in many colors. You might love a partner, gay or straight, your kids, your neighbors, your community, your dogs or your goldfish. Just love. And if you do not quite know how, there are ways to learn it still, step by step, kiss by kiss, and breath by breath.
Source: Brigham Young University:
Dad’s task: Draw a sailboat with an Etch A Sketch in five minutes or less.
The twist (pun intended): Sketch the sailboat with your -year-old child controlling one of the toy’s two dials.
While it sounds like playtime, it’s really an extensive experiment on the relationship quality between fathers and children. Social scientists observed almost dads in cities attempt the joint sketch with their first graders.
But instead of awarding points for artistic quality, the researchers judged how well the pair worked with each other in a battery of team-play exercises including the Etch A Sketch challenge.
“By design, these tasks are too hard for first-graders to do on their own,” said Erin Holmes, a professor in Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life. “When a little conflict or stress occurred, we looked at dads’ ability to respond to their children’s feelings – negative or positive.”
The main conclusion of Holmes’ study? Children who had the best experience can thank their father’s child-centered parenting beliefs, which a statistical analysis showed to be among the most predictive factors of quality relationships. Child-centered parenting includes beliefs such as “Children learn best by doing things themselves” and “A child’s ideas should be seriously considered when making family decisions.”
More telling were factors that didn’t seem to matter: fathers’ income level, education, even the number of diapers they changed.* While these attributes have merit in other contexts, they didn’t influence fathers’ ability to engage their children in productive and positive ways.
Holmes is the lead author of the new study to be published by the academic journal Fathering. Aletha Huston of the University of Texas at Austin is a co-author.
The fathers who did not fare so well in the experiments hold more adult-centered parenting beliefs. These attitudes were measured by a questionnaire asking how strongly they agree with statements like “Preparing for the future is more important for a child than enjoying today” and “Children should be doing something useful at all times.”
If adult-centered fathers perceived their child to possess strong social skills, however, the pair scored well on relationship quality in the playtime experiment.
Being a child-centered father doesn’t mean giving up notions of obedience and accountability, Holmes notes.
“Even though teaching your child to be obedient is an important part of parenting, you need to be willing to listen to your child, too,” Holmes said. “When parents pay attention to their children’s cues about how children feel and what they like to do, it produces better quality relationships.”
The data for this study come from a -year longitudinal study funded by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
* Though not addressed by this particular study, avoiding nappy duty is suspected to impact dad’s relationship with mum.
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I have just found this video which includes a rare interview with Dr David Schnarch, author of “Passionate Marriage”, “Resurrecting Sex” & his latest book released in October 2009 “Intimacy & Desire”. Anyone who knows me well knows I am an advocate of Schnarch’s personal development approach to improving intimate relationships. For more information on my personal experiences with Schnarch and his unique contributions to this field read THIS POST.
Here are Schnarch’s online self evaluation surveys and statistics for the health of your sexual relationship and personal intimacy style. If you’re having issues (like 70% of couples in committed relationships) and have tried and failed to spark things up again, please watch this interview, read one of Schnarch’s books and check out his website for online resources. It will be worth your time and money.
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According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, people who engage in regular sexual activity gain several health benefits, such as longer lives, healthier hearts, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of breast cancer. However, approximately 33 percent of women may not receive these benefits due to low sexual desire. Also, the marriages of women with low sexual desire may also be at risk, given a recent statistic that 25 percent of divorce is due to sexual dissatisfaction.
Some doctors are prescribing testosterone patches for women with low sexual desire. However, research shows that testosterone patches might increase the risk of breast cancer when used for just a year. Researchers are currently testing a new drug, flibanserin, which was developed as an antidepressant and affects neurotransmitters in the brain, to treat women with low sexual desire. However, experts are concerned about the side effects of this possible treatment. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found evidence that a low-cost, risk-free psychological treatment is effective and may be a better alternative to drugs that have adverse side effects.
“Low sexual desire is the number one problem women bring to sex therapists,” said Laurie Mintz, associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education. “Drugs to treat low sexual desire may take the focus away from the most common culprits of diminished desire in women, including lack of information on how our own bodies work, body image issues, relationship issues and a stressful lifestyle. Indeed, research demonstrates that relationship issues are far more important in predicting women’s sexual desire than are hormone levels. Before women seek medical treatments, they should consider psychological treatment.”
Mintz has authored a book, A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship , based on this premise. In her book, Mintz suggests a six-step psycho-educational and cognitive-behavioral treatment approach that she based on scientific literature and more than 20 years of clinical knowledge. The treatment plan includes chapters about one’s thoughts about sex, how to talk with your partner, the importance of spending time together, ways to touch each other in both erotic and non-erotic ways, how to make time for sex and different ways to make sexual activity exciting and thus, increase women’s sexual desire.
In a study demonstrating the effectiveness of her treatment, Mintz recruited married women between the ages of 28 to 65, who said they were uninterested in sexual activity. All the women were employed and a majority had children. All participants completed an online survey that measured sexual desire and sexual functioning. Then half of the participants were selected randomly to read her book and perform the exercises outlined in her book. After six weeks, they were emailed the same survey again. The control group did not read the book. Mintz found that the intervention group who read the book made significant gains in sexual desire and sexual functioning, compared to the control group who did not read the book. On average, women who read the book increased their level of sexual desire by almost 30 percent.
“This finding is especially exciting because low sexual desire among women has been not only the most common, but the least successfully treated of all the sexual problems brought to therapists” Mintz said. “Also, although other books have been written on the topic, this is the first to be tested for its effectiveness. In addition, unlike medical treatments such as testosterone, there are certainly no known negative medical side effects associated with the treatment strategies in my book.”
Mintz will present her findings at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) annual conference.
University of Missouri-Columbia
Has the quest for that one perfect partner, the never-ending search for the ideal done us more harm than good? There is growing evidence that an idealistic search for love can hinder the enjoyment and fulfilment of what you already have. The following is excerpted from Polly Schulman’s article at Psychology Today (http://psychologytoday.com ).
The divorce rate has stayed constant at nearly 50 percent for the last two decades. The ease with which we enter and dissolve unions makes marriage seem like a prime-time spectator sport, whether it’s Britney Spears in Vegas or bimbos chasing after the Bachelor.
Long live the new marriage! We once prized the institution for the practical pairing of a cash-producing father and a home-building mother. Now we want it all—a partner who reflects our taste and status, who sees us for who we are, who loves us for all the “right” reasons, who helps us become the person we want to be. We’ve done away with a rigid social order, adopting instead an even more onerous obligation: the mandate to find a perfect match. Anything short of this ideal prompts us to ask: Is this all there is? Am I as happy as I should be? Could there be somebody out there who’s better for me? As often as not, we answer yes to that last question and fall victim to our own great expectations.
That somebody is, of course, our soul mate, the man or woman who will counter our weaknesses, amplify our strengths and provide the unflagging support and respect that is the essence of a contemporary relationship. The reality is that few marriages or partnerships consistently live up to this ideal. The result is a commitment limbo, in which we care deeply for our partner but keep one stealthy foot out the door of our hearts. In so doing, we subject the relationship to constant review: Would I be happier, smarter, a better person with someone else? It’s a painful modern quandary. “Nothing has produced more unhappiness than the concept of the soul mate,” says Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman [….
… ] Many of us either dodge the decision to commit or commit without fully relinquishing the right to keep looking—opting for an arrangement psychotherapist Terrence Real terms “stable ambiguity.” “You park on the border of the relationship, so you’re in it but not of it,” he says. There are a million ways to do that: You can be in a relationship but not be sure it’s really the right one, have an eye open for a better deal or something on the side, choose someone impossible or far away.
Yet commitment and marriage offer real physical and financial rewards. Touting the benefits of marriage may sound like conservative policy rhetoric, but nonpartisan sociological research backs it up: Committed partners have it all over singles, at least on average. Married people are more financially stable, according to Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and a coauthor of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially Both married men and married women have more assets on average than singles; for women, the differential is huge.
The benefits go beyond the piggy bank. Married people, particularly men, tend to live longer than people who aren’t married. Couples also live better: When people expect to stay together, says Waite, they pool their resources, increasing their individual standard of living. They also pool their expertise—in cooking, say, or financial management. In general, women improve men’s health by putting a stop to stupid bachelor tricks and bugging their husbands to exercise and eat their vegetables. Plus, people who aren’t comparing their partners to someone else in bed have less trouble performing and are more emotionally satisfied with sex. The relationship doesn’t have to be wonderful for life to get better, says Waite: The statistics hold true for mediocre marriages as well as for passionate ones.
The pragmatic benefits of partnership used to be foremost in our minds. The idea of marriage as a vehicle for self-fulfillment and happiness is relatively new, says Paul Amato, professor of sociology, demography and family studies at Penn State University. Surveys of high school and college students 50 or 60 years ago found that most wanted to get married in order to have children or own a home. Now, most report that they plan to get married for love. This increased emphasis on emotional fulfillment within marriage leaves couples ill-prepared for the realities they will probably face.
Because the early phase of a relationship is marked by excitement and idealization, “many romantic, passionate couples expect to have that excitement forever,” says Barry McCarthy, a clinical psychologist and coauthor—with his wife, Emily McCarthy—of Getting It Right the First Time: Creating a Healthy Marriage. Longing for the charged energy of the early days, people look elsewhere or split up.
Flagging passion is often interpreted as the death knell of a relationship. You begin to wonder whether you’re really right for each other after all. You’re comfortable together, but you don’t really connect the way you used to. Wouldn’t it be more honest—and braver—to just admit that it’s not working and call it off? “People are made to feel that remaining in a marriage that doesn’t make you blissfully happy is an act of existential cowardice,” says Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist.
Coleman says that the constant cultural pressure to have it all—a great sex life, a wonderful family—has made people ashamed of their less-than-perfect relationships and question whether such unions are worth hanging on to. Feelings of dissatisfaction or disappointment are natural, but they can seem intolerable when standards are sky-high. “It’s a recent historical event that people expect to get so much from individual partners,” says Coleman, author of The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony in which he advises couples in lackluster marriages to stick it out—especially if they have kids. “There’s an enormous amount of pressure on marriages to live up to an unrealistic ideal.” […
…] In fact, argue psychologists and marital advocates, there’s no such thing as true compatibility. “Marriage is a disagreement machine,” says Diane Sollee, founder of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. “All couples disagree about all the same things. We have a highly romanticized notion that if we were with the right person, we wouldn’t fight.” Discord springs eternal over money, kids, sex and leisure time, but psychologist John Gottman has shown that long-term, happily married couples disagree about these things just as much as couples who divorce.
“There is a mythology of ‘the wrong person,'” agrees Pittman. “All marriages are incompatible. All marriages are between people from different families, people who have a different view of things. The magic is to develop binocular vision, to see life through your partner’s eyes as well as through your own.”
The realization that we’re not going to get everything we want from a partner is not just sobering, it’s downright miserable. But it is also a necessary step in building a mature relationship, according to Real, who has written about the subject in How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women
. “The paradox of intimacy is that our ability to stay close rests on our ability to tolerate solitude inside a relationship,” he says. “A central aspect of grown-up love is grief. All of us long for—and think we deserve—perfection.” We can hardly be blamed for striving for bliss and self-fulfillment in our romantic lives—our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the first blueprint of [..modern] society.
This same respect for our own needs spurred the divorce-law reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. During that era, “The culture shifted to emphasize individual satisfaction, and marriage was part of that,” explains Paul Amato, who has followed more than 2,000 families for 20 years in a long-term study of marriage and divorce. Amato says that this shift did some good by freeing people from abusive and intolerable marriages. But it had an unintended side effect: encouraging people to abandon relationships that may be worth salvaging. In a society hell-bent on individual achievement and autonomy, working on a difficult relationship may get short shrift, says psychiatrist Peter Kramer, author of Should You Leave?
“So much of what we learn has to do with the self, the ego, rather than giving over the self to things like a relationship,” Kramer says. In our competitive world, we’re rewarded for our individual achievements rather than for how we help others. We value independence over cooperation, and sacrifices for values like loyalty and continuity seem foolish. “I think we get the divorce rate that we deserve as a culture.”
The steadfast focus on our own potential may turn a partner into an accessory in the quest for self-actualization, says Maggie Robbins, a therapist in New York City. “We think that this person should reflect the beauty and perfection that is the inner me—or, more often, that this person should compensate for the yuckiness and mess that is the inner me,” says Robbins. “This is what makes you tell your wife, ‘Lose some weight—you’re making me look bad,’ not ‘Lose some weight, you’re at risk for diabetes.'” […
…] The urge to find a soul mate is not fueled just by notions of romantic manifest destiny. Trends in the workforce and in the media create a sense of limitless romantic possibility. According to Scott South, a demographer at SUNY-Albany, proximity to potential partners has a powerful effect on relationships. South and his colleagues found higher divorce rates among people living in communities or working in professions where they encounter lots of potential partners—people who match them in age, race and education level. “These results hold true not just for unhappy marriages but also for happy ones,” says South.
The temptations aren’t always living, breathing people. According to research by psychologists Sara Gutierres and Douglas Kenrick, both of Arizona State University, we find reasonably attractive people less appealing when we’ve just seen a hunk or a hottie—and we’re bombarded daily by images of gorgeous models and actors. When we watch Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen’s kingly mien and Liv Tyler’s elfin charm can make our husbands and wives look all too schlumpy.
Kramer sees a similar pull in the narratives that surround us. “The number of stories that tell us about other lives we could lead—in magazine articles, television shows, books—has increased enormously. We have an enormous reservoir of possibilities,” says Kramer.
And these possibilities can drive us to despair. Too many choices have been shown to stymie consumers, and an array of alternative mates is no exception. In an era when marriages were difficult to dissolve, couples rated their marriages as more satisfying than do today’s couples, for whom divorce is a clear option, according to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
While we expect marriage to be “happily ever after,” the truth is that for most people, neither marriage nor divorce seem to have a decisive impact on happiness. Although Waite’s research shows that married people are happier than their single counterparts, other studies have found that after a couple years of marriage, people are just about as happy (or unhappy) as they were before settling down. And assuming that marriage will automatically provide contentment is itself a surefire recipe for misery.
“Marriage is not supposed to make you happy. It is supposed to make you married,” says Pittman. “When you are all the way in your marriage, you are free to do useful things, become a better person.” A committed relationship allows you to drop pretenses and seductions, expose your weaknesses, be yourself—and know that you will be loved, warts and all. “A real relationship is the collision of my humanity and yours, in all its joy and limitations,” says Real. “How partners handle that collision is what determines the quality of their relationship.”
Such a down-to-earth view of marriage is hardly romantic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not profound: An authentic relationship with another person, says Pittman, is “one of the first steps toward connecting with the human condition—which is necessary if you’re going to become fulfilled as a human being.” If we accept these humble terms, the quest for a soul mate might just be a noble pursuit after all.
(Reposted from the excellent psyblog at spring.org.uk )
Both sexes know men prefer a direct approach from woman, but is it just because men can’t read the signs?
Men and women’s attitudes to relationships have become remarkably similar — when dating women are now much more likely to make the first move.
It will come as no surprise that research finds men prefer this first move to be direct. But do men and women agree on what a direct approach is and why such directness is necessary in the first place?
These questions are addressed in a new study published recently in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Wade et al., 2009). Forty women aged between 19 and 22 were asked to list the types of opening lines they might use to signal their interest in dating a man.
Researchers sorted these into 10 categories, then 40 men and women rated them in order of perceived directness. Here are the 10 categories (with examples) from most to least direct:
- Directly ask out on a date: Want to go get dinner?
- Ask if single: Do you have a girlfriend?
- Give out phone number, or ask for a call: You should call me.
- Give a compliment: I like your hair.
- Ask about shared interests: Do you watch The Wire?
- Indirectly hint at a date: What are you doing later this weekend?
- Say something funny/sexual humour: Wanna make out?
- Suggest familiarity: Have we met before?
- Personal interest questions: How was your weekend?
- Subtle hello: Hey, what’s your name?
Then men were asked which lines they thought would be most effective for women to use on them. They pretty much put the chat-up lines in order of directness, with the most direct also perceived as the most effective.
When women were asked to do the same they produced a similar list with one exception. Women didn’t rate as highly giving out phone numbers or asking for a call. Overall, though, women clearly understand that men prefer the direct approach.
The only surprise is the low ranking of funny or sexual humour. Men don’t seem to appreciate the lewd come-ons suggested by gender stereotypes. This relatively low rating for a jokey approach is another thing shared by both sexes. Previous work by Bale et al. (2006) found that women weren’t particularly impressed with men trying to be funny, despite what we are often told. It seems opening lines are a serious business for both sexes.
The interesting question, although it may seem easy to answer, is why do men prefer a direct approach? Two obvious answers are men’s purported inability to read body language or an assumed distaste for reading situational subtleties (in other words: too stupid or can’t be bothered).
But researchers in Germany provide us with evidence for an alternative explanation. Grammer et al. (2000) videotaped opposite sex pairs meeting for the first time to catch the nuances of body language in the first 10 minutes of an interaction. Afterwards women were asked how much interest they had in the man they’d been talking to. The researchers revealed two counter-intuitive results:
- In the first minute women behaved no differently to men they fancied than those they didn’t. They sent many positive nonverbal signals to all the men and hardly any negative signals.
- It is only between the 4th and 10th minute that any correlation was seen between an increased sending of positive nonverbal behaviours and wanting to date the man. But even then the difference was only between some positive signals and slightly more positive signals. Again negative signals were very rare.
The reason men prefer a direct approach becomes clearer. Women may think they are sending out all the right nonverbal signals and may blame men for failing to pick up on them. But from a man’s perspective there may often be little to pick up on because women, being polite, are always sending positive nonverbal signals.
While it’s not good practice to generalise too much from one relatively small study of 45 participants whose age
ranged from 18 to 23, the results accord with what men say anecdotally: they often can’t tell if women are interested or not because the signals are too ambiguous.
So subtlety is out and it’s back to the age-old problem for both men and women: who has the guts to risk rejection with the direct approach?