What do We Want to Know about Intimate Relationships?
Interdependence as the Cornerstone for Relationships
• Interdependence: the mutual influence that two people have over one another. (Defining feature of any
• Interdependence has to be bidirectional (operates in both directions)
• Interdependence must extend over time, with later interactions between partners gaining meaning from the
• Interdependence between two people does not constitute an intimate relationship
• People in intimate relationships treat each other as unique individuals
Impersonal and Personal Relationships
• Treat each other as unique individuals
• Impersonal relationships: formal and task oriented
• Personal relationships: informal and engage us at a deeper emotional level. (an interdependent relationship in
which the partners consider each other special and unique)
• The close relationship is one of strong, frequent, and diverse interdependence that lasts over a considerable
period of time.
• Characterized by strong, sustained, mutual influence across a wide range of interactions, featuring at least the
potential for sexual interaction
Why are intimate relationships important?
• The human capacity for intimacy contributes to our ability to regulate our emotions and adapt to the world.
• How we feel and think about our relationship can contribute to how long we live following a serious health
• Hand Holding study:
o 16 married women, lay in a MRI scanner
o If shown a X have a 20% chance of receiving a small shock
o If shown a O, 0% chance of receiving a shock
o Conditions: holding partners hand, holding strangers hand (same sex as partner), holding no hand
Registered less threat when holding partners hand
The happier they were in their relationships, the less activation occurred in the threat related
• Heart Failure study:
o 188 couples dealing with one partners heart failure (over 50yrs old)
o Visited the couples homes and interviewed and gave questionnaires in separate rooms
o At the end, videotaped for 10 minutes talking about a topic of disagreement in their relationship o Counted the number of times they said positive and negative things to one another.
o Patients in happier relationships were less likely to die in the next four years.
Intimate Relationships Determine the Survival of our Species
• Fitness is affected directly or indirectly by the ways human mates attract and select one another, their
willingness and tendency to procreate, the attachments they form, and their provision of support for one
another and their offspring
• MRI scans taken while gazing in a partners eyes show brain activation in regions that are known to be
stimulated when we receive a reward.
• Sexual desire and romantic love are biologically distinct systems, joined in part by a neuropeptide called
oxytocin and is released during intimate physical contact.
• Oxytocin may be a key ingredient in the neurobiological system that promotes feelings of calmness,
sociability and trust partly by reducing activity in fear related brain structures such as the amygdala and
Intimate relationships are a Universal Human Experience
• People everywhere experience intimate relationships
• Pair bonding: often motivated by love and mutual attraction. (Most common reason people have sex)
• Different factors (ex. cultural) can modify how we experience these relationships
• China: associate love with sorrow, unrequited feelings, and infatuation
• North America: associate love with passion and personal happiness
o Western cultures prioritize personal goals over duties to the larger group and its opposite in Eastern
• Individualistic and collectivist societies experience love differently
o Ex. individualistic: the family is a support system for the individual, who leaves home and starts their
o Individuals are the support system for families in collectivist societies
• Love marriages are happier than arranged marriages.
How Marriage has changed over time
• Shifting from being an institution in which social obligations are most important to a form of intimate
companionship in which the emotional bonds are most essential.
• The responsibilities of marriage were once institutionalized by religious and legal codes and closely
regulated by social norms and sanctions.
• This shift is due to:
o Industrialization and the growth of cities decreased the degree to which families depended on
children to sustain the family unit
o Increased geographic mobility reduced the degree to which parents and families could monitor and
influence their children
o Growing power and increasing opportunities for women gave them greater economic independence
and more control over their personal decisions
• Large increase in cohabitating couples.
Intimate Relationships Expand our Range of Emotional Experiences
• Love is not a defining characteristic of an intimate relationship • Passionate love: marked more by infatuation, intense preoccupation with the partner, strong sexual longing,
throes of ecstasy, and feelings of exhilaration that come from being reunited with the partner
• Companionate love: potent feelings diminish but are enriched by warm feelings of attachment, an authentic
and enduring bond, a sense of mutual commitment, the profound knowledge that you are caring for another
person who is in turn caring for you, feeling proud of a mate’s accomplishments, and the satisfaction that
comes from sharing goals and perspectives
Seven Essential Attributes of Love
1. Desire: Wanting to be united with the partner, physically and emotionally.
2. Idealization: Believing the partner is unique and special.
3. Joy: Experiencing very strong, positive emotions.
4. Preoccupation: Thinking a lot about the partner and having little control over when these thoughts occur.
5. Proximity: Taking steps to maintain or restore physical closeness or emotional contact with the partner.
6. Prioritizing: Reordering priorities and goals, so that maintaining the relationship is given more importance
than other interests and responsibilities.
7. Caring: Experiencing and expressing feelings of empathy and compassion for the partner.
Intimate Relationships Affect our Mental and Physical Health
• Subjective well-being: reports about how happy we are generally in In life—is linked with various aspects of
our intimate relationships
• Relationship status relates to subjective well-being.
• Relationship transitions: movement into and out of partnerships
• Relationship difficulties increase substance abuse, depression, and suicide
• Selection effect: people with specific characteristics may be more likely to enter into certain types of
relationships or undergo particular transitions raising the possibility that these characteristics, rather than the
relationships themselves, cause their well-being.
• Protection effects: Something about the experience itself produces protective benefits or advantages.
How do relationships affect your subjective well being?
• Affects financial well being:
o Long time married couples have more money than other couples
o Divorce is expensive
• Married and cohabiting couples have more sex.
• Affect physical health
o People experiencing unresolved conflicts in their intimate relationships are more vulnerable to
catching a common cold after being exposed to an experimentally administered virus
o Cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune functioning all are affected by observed levels of conflict
and hostility in intimate relationships
Intimate Relationships Affect the Well Being of Children
• Parents’relationship status is more influential than their race and their education in determining whether
their children will experience severe Poverty.
• Children are upset, by high levels of conflict between the parents that decrease the children’s feelings of
emotional security and increase such behavior problems as acting out and displaying aggression with their
peers • Relationship conflicts can lead parents to withdraw emotionally from one another and from their parental
o Conflict can: reduce quality of children’s sleep, speedup the onset of puberty, and compromise their
• Transitions in relationships: more transitions = more behavioral problems
o Child’s well being improves following divorce if the parents marriage before had high levels of
tension and conflict.
• Intergenerational transmission effects: the family circumstances children encounter will influence the way
they manage their own intimate relationships decades later.
• Genes do not play a factor
Intimate Relationships are the Fabric of Society
• Social control theory: social relationships organize and regulate how individuals behave, such that fewer,
weaker, or poorer relationships increase the occurrence of deviant behavior.
• This regulatory effect occurs because relationships encourage individuals to internalize and abide by societal
norms, in part because people incur personal costs and sanctions when these norms are violated.
• Intimate relationships in adulthood also affect whether people follow or break laws or social conventions
- We need a system for evaluating claims about how relationships work and determining which claims are true
for most people and which are not
- Relationship science is the tool for answering these questions
- The primary tool is scientific method: a set of procedures for making predictions, gathering
data, and comparing the validity of competing claims about the world
(The Scientific Method)
- scientific method is not foolproof, it demands we remain skeptical of all claims to the truth
- must reject claims that no longer match our observations and advance new claims - continuous process of conducting research
THREE KINDS OF QUESTIONS
- these three questions motivate most research on intimate relationships
1. First question focuses on description – asks what happens? (Initial questions researchers ask). Example: who
is more likely to initiate a breakup, a man or a woman?
2. Second, focuses on prediction – asks when does it happen? (asks whether knowing something about a
relationship at one point in time can help us predict what the relationship will be like at some future time)
3. Third focuses on explanation – asks why does it happen? (can point out ways that relationships reach those
outcomes and methods of changing or improving them)
THEORIES AND HYPOTHESES
Theory: general explanation of a phenomenon
- Variables: the elements of a theory
- to measure a good theory, is it falsifiable: testable predictions that can be confirmed or disconfirmed through
Hypotheses: is a concrete prediction arising from the theory – about how different variables are likely to be
- The scientific method values replication: research that examines the same questions multiple times
CHOOSING A MEASUREMENT STRATEGY
- social scientists tend to theorize about variables that are intangible
- Psychological constructs: product of human thoughts, i.e., love; poses challenges – how can we
measure abstract ideas?
- Researchers must link abstract ideas to something concrete that can be observed or
measured operationalization: the translation of an abstract construct into concrete terms in
order to test predictions about that construct
- Example: “love scale” – those who give higher scores more likely to end up staying
married 15 yrs later.
- With psychological constructs such as love, the construct itself is not actually measured;
research can only measure operationalizations of constructs
- self-reports: own descriptions and evaluations of one’s experiences * most commonly used source of data in
research on intimate relationships
- simplest self-report is a direct question with a yes or no answer
- Sociosexuality: willingness to contemplate sex outside the context of a committed intimate relationship
- Fixed-response scales: researcher determines all of the specific questions and possible answers i.e.,
sociosexual orientation inventory & marital locus of control scale
- Open-ended Question: researcher asks questions and respondent gives any answer that comes to mind - Qualitative Research: an approach that relies primarily on open-ended questions and other loosely structured
PROSAND CONS (OF SELF-REPORT)
- require few equipment
- high construct validity
- difficulty in phrasing the questions (can affect how people respond)
- people forget things and cannot recall with detail example, how many time you spoke on phone last week…
- cannot provide meaningful answers if question is misinterpreted
- reluctance to answer a question truly when it makes participant look bad
- Social desirability effect: refers to the possibility that research participants are
giving answers they think will make them look good to the researchers, rather than describing what they
OMNIBUSAND GLOBAL MEASURES
- Omnibus Measure: taps a wide range of context, example: The Marital Adjustment Test (15 questions that
range in variety of content)
- Item-overlap problem: occurs whenever questionnaires that are nominally measuring different constructs
contain questions about similar topics
To solve this problem use global measures: measures that ask partners only
about their evaluations (feelings) of their relationship as a whole
- observational measures: gather data about relationships without having to ask the people who are
experiencing the events
- Example: The Spouse Observation Checklist (8 page measure that asked
spouses to indicate which of the hundreds of specific behaviours i.e., took
the garbage out… their partner engaged in)
- How good are spouses at reporting on each other’s behaviours?
- Jacobson & Moore (1981) found that partners agreed about which behaviours
had occurred less than 50% of the time = spouses not very accurate observers of
- sentiment override: reports of partner behaviour reflects general feelings rather than behaviours themselves
- Physiological responses: the body’s involuntary reactions, to experiences in intimate relationships
- in study by Art Aron and colleagues (2005) found area of brain
associated with reward and motivation lit up more brightly when partner gazed at their loved one vs. looking at photo of stranger
- Biggest challenge in designing observational measures is establishing reliability
- Reliability: the extent to which different observers agree that a specified
behaviour has or has not occurred
PROSAND CONS (OF OBSERVATIONAL MEASURES)
- extremely time consuming and labour intensive (must train observers and compensate them)
- require expensive recording equipment
- possibility of reactivity: sometimes the act of observing someone changes the behaviour being observed
(couples behaviours tend to change a little when being observed)
- high construct validity
- offers objective record of what happens in relationships
- less opportunity to rely on faulty or limited memory (reports given during or immediately after observations)
WHICH MEASUREMENT STRATEGY IS THE BEST?
- if a researcher wants to understand how partners in an intimate relationship feel or think = use self-reports
- if researcher wants to understand how partners act or communicate = use observational methods (watch and
- the best research adopts a multiple-method approach: operationalizing the constructs of interest in different
ways, so that the limitations of each measurement strategy may eventually cancel each other out and the
effects the researcher is really looking for can emerge clearly
DESIGNING THE STUDY
Correlational Research: study the naturally occurring associations among variables
- aimed at answering descriptive questions “are more intelligent ppl more satisfied with their intimate
- when two variable are shown to be associated in some way = correlated
- positive correlation: indicates that when one level of variable is high, the level of the other variable tends to
be high as well *same if low
- negative correlation: high levels of one variable tend to be associated with low levels of another
- correlation of zero = knowing one variable tells you nothing at all about the other variable
PROSAND CONS (OF CORRELATIONAL RESEARCH)
- valuable for studying variables that cannot be manipulated or studied in other ways
- supports only certain kinds of conclusions - Correlational data cannot be used to support statements about causation: idea that one event is the direct
result of another **correlation does not imply causation!
> Cross-sectional data: the data describes a cross section or a snapshot of a single instant (particular moment/time)
> Longitudinal data: measurements of the same individuals at two or more occasions
- can address questions of description and of predictions
- measures ppl and then measures them again later to see what happened
- in research, to describe how relationships change, the interval between measurements need to be long enough
so that some change can occur
- Daily diary approach: asks ppl to fill out a questionnaire everyday at about the same time
- Experience sampling: gather data from ppl throughout the day, literally “sampling” from the totality of their
PROSAND CONS (OF LONGITUDINAL STUDIES)
- longitudinal studies can describe change over time and predict outcomes
- offers a unique window through which to observe how relationship processes unfold
- expensive and time consuming
- loss of participants due to moving away, break-up, boredom…
- Attrition bias: when the final sample in a longitudinal study differs from the initial sample because
certain kinds of couples have dropped out
- Experimental research: researchers take more active role through manipulating one element of a
phenomenon to determine its effectiveness on the rest of the phenomenon
- Conducting a true experiment requires 4 things: dependent variable, independent variable, control, and
- dependent variable: the effect or outcome the researcher wants to understand
- independent variable: the aspect of the experimental situation that the researcher manipulates
- control: hold constant across conditions – all aspects of the experimental situation that they are not
- random assignment: ensuring that every research participant has an equal chance of being assigned
to any condition of an experiment
PROSAND CONS (OF EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH)
Pros - allows researchers to move beyond descriptive and predictions to address explanatory questions
- can support causal statements
- Cannot generalize outside the experimental condition
- What works in the experimental setting does not always work in the real world
- external validity: whether the results of an experiment apply in other situations
- Archival research: researcher examines existing data that has already been gathered, for an unrelated
purpose, by someone else
- Archival resources – yearbooks (looking at faces determines marriage satisfaction later), personal
- Content analysis: code material in such a way that researchers can quantify differences between units
PROSAND CONS (OF ARCHIVAL RESEARCH)
- economical and effective
- just as accurate as conducting an entirely new study
- cannot control quality of the data
- researcher can only examine the questions asked in the original study
CHOOSING WHO GETS STUDIED
- Sample: the people who provide data
- Representative Samples: samples consisting of people who are demonstrably similar to the population to
which the researchers would like to generalize
- Convenience Sample: samples recruited solely because they are easy to find i.e., university students on
THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCONFIRMATION
- Scientific research is focused on disconfirming the null hypothesis: the hypothesis that there is no effect
between two variables (the correlation is zero)
- Statistical Analysis: to determine the probability of obtaining a particular result, given a particular set of
- Statistically significant effects: effects large enough to occur less than 5% of the time – if the null hypothesis
- Meta-analysis: a set of statistical techniques specifically designed to combine results across studies and
reveal the overall effects observed by a body of scientific research
ETHICAL ISSUES - Ethical behaviour entails:
1. respect people who provide data
2. protect participants from possible harm
- Confidentiality: ensuring info is not shared or discussed with anyone not
directly associated with research
- Anonymity: identifying participants with identification numbers rather than their names
3. Researchers not allowed to ask potentially offensive questions or place participant in situation they may feel
- To avoid, use informed consent: participants told of all research
procedures, know what to expect, and have signed consent form
- the scientific method is simply a set of tools for evaluating competing claims about the truth
Men and Women, Gay and Straight
Sex and Gender
• Sex: whether an individual is male or female, biologically speaking. Categorically fixed. (Doesn’t change)
• Gender: people’s non-biological and non-physiological attributes, characteristics, and behaviors that are
viewed as masculine or feminine. More fluid. (Can change)
• Primary sex characteristics: different chromosomes, sex hormones, internal and external genitalia thatare
needed to accomplish sexual reproduction.
• Secondary sex characteristics: breasts, finer skin, and more subcutaneous fat for females; facial hair, deep
voice, and greater musculature for males develop later, and these serve to further distinguish the two sexes
anatomically and to facilitate courtship and mate selection.
• Tertiary sex characteristics: primary and secondary characteristics are themselves embedded and
experienced within particular historical and cultural circumstances, which then combine to produce the social
behaviors that men and women typically learn and the situations in which they are permitted to display them
Sex Differences, Sex Similarities
• D statistic. When d = 0, this means men and women do not differ on the characteristic
• When d deviates from zero, we can conclude that men and women do differ.
• The further d deviates from zero, the more confident we are that these differences are robust and
• Negative d values indicate that females score higher than males on the specified dimension; positive values
indicate the opposite.
• Regardless of the domain, differences between males and females are not large.
The Nature explanation
• Evolutionary theory • Intrasexual competition: compete with other members of their own sex to gain some advantage in the mating
o Men and aggression: attain resources, protect their resources and family, impress women
o Women: enhancing their looks, putting down other women
The Nurture Explanation
• Social structural theory: male-female differences in the division of labor are profoundly important for two
• One reason focuses on how differences in the division of labor affect expectations for the roles in society that
men and women should fill, and the second focuses on the steps men and workmen then take to meet these
• Women: roles where they are caretaking, selfless, and friendly
• Men: action and task oriented roles or authority figures
• When people go outside these prescribed roles, they may encounter friction.
• In our society, and in virtually all societies in which males and females have a hierarchical relationship with
one another, males adopt the dominant role and females adopt the subordinate role
• Power: an individual’s capacity to alter the behavior and experiences of others, while also resisting the
influence of others
• Men engage in behaviors that establish and reinforce their superior position in the social hierarchy; in
contrast, women engage in behaviors that promote cooperation, nurturing of others, and adaptation to the
inferior role to which they are assigned.
• Males and females are distributed differently across various tasks and occupations because their physical
attributes push them toward certain tasks and occupations and away from others.
• The division of labor and how we make sense of gender are also affected by the demands of the local
economy as well as the social structure of a given society.
• The roles adopted by males and females can vary and change, depending on such factors as how many males
and females are available to take on particular tasks at a given time and how males and females are treated in
a particular culture.
• In cultures where women experience higher levels of empowerment, differences between how much men and
women emphasize a mate’s earning prospects and domestic abilities are reduced.
• Power may derive not from gender, but from the roles that males and females inhabit.
• Women tend to be more engaged and demanding because their typical roles provide them with less power,
whereas men tend to withdraw because they inhabit roles distinguished by more power. (Men and women
will switch to opposite behaviors if their power role is changed)
• When doing an experimental study where people are asked to infer others emotions, women outperform men
if the instructions make it clear that the task is about emotion and empathy. (Empathy is part of the stereotype
of being a woman)
• When participants are paid for accurately perceiving others’thoughts and feelings and when men are
instructed that empathic accuracy increases their romantic appeal to women men and women no longer
• A nurture-based view of parenting holds that men and women are equally capable of providing care to their
children if they are socialized with that role.
Joining Nature and Nurture • Some sort of integration between these two explanations is needed to fully articulate the wide range of
factors contributing to sex differences and the development of gender.
• Gender roles are influenced by:
o Biological factors such as hormones and body parts
o Societies expected roles for men and women
o Each individuals psychological thoughts and beliefs about how males and females should act
factoring in gender stereotypes
o Emotions and attitudes towards the same sex and opposite sex.
o Individual initiates intimate relationships with members of one sex or the other
• Links between basic biology and emotion: levels of testosterone and other hormones affect emotions
(depending on family relationships)
• Girls with more positive family relationships go on to have a later onset of puberty
• Girls with a disorder that leaves them with unusually high levels of androgens, beginning in the womb, show
a much greater preference for boys’toys
Sex Role Identity: Finding individuals in the Categories
• Sex role identity: the way people view themselves in terms of masculine and feminine traits
• Androgynous: Individuals who are high in both masculine and feminine traits
o Higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, and higher levels of emotional intelligence
o Display and express their emotions more readily
o More likely to adjust their behavior according to the demands of the situation
o Experience higher levels of attachment security in relationships
• Unmitigated agency: Extreme masculinity
• Unmitigated communion: extreme femininity
o Experience distress because they rely heavily on others to bolster their self-esteem,
o Become over-involved with others in order to maintain a positive sense of who they are
o Fail to learn how to manage their own emotions
• Masculinity and femininity can change
• Sex and sex role identities also serve as schemas—cognitive categories that organize ideas and beliefs about
certain concepts, in this case sex and gender.
• These schemas alter our perceptions of others and how we relate to them
Sex, Gender, and Intimacy
• Men are more group oriented and care more about the welfare of a larger group
• Women care more about the welfare of a select few close others.
• Women tend to have more relationship awareness than men do.
• Women develop more differentiated and complex cognitive representations of relationship events, allowing
them to recall prior experiences with the partner with greater ease and more emotional richness
• Because they are capable of accessing a greater store of relationship knowledge women might be inclined to
see connections among relationship events that are not as obvious to men.
Quality of Interaction
• Men’s interactions with men are less meaningful (or more superficial) than those with women, whereas
women’s interactions are equally meaningful regardless of the partner’s gender. • When spouses reported on how much stress they experienced and how much partner support they received
each day over the course of a week, husbands’stressful days were met by increases in support whereas
wives’stressful days were met by increases in support and increases in criticism.
• Women who are partners of cancer patients experience far more distress then men in the same situation.
Meanings of Intimacy
• Men and women seem to enter relationships with similar standards in mind but, perhaps by virtue of
women’s greater sensitivity to the emotional tenor of dyadic relationships, men end up being closer to having
their standards met.
• Male and female undergraduates were asked to describe an intimate experience, and researchers then
analyzed those responses without knowing the respondent’s sex.
• This study found clear similarities in how men and women understood intimacy.
• Women understood intimacy to mean feeling and expressing appreciation and enjoyment (100 percent of
them listed this), feeling and expressing love (38 percent), feeling mutual interest and attraction (31 percent),
and receiving support (28 percent).
• Men were similar in that they listed feelings of love and enjoyment (at least 92 percent of them did), mutual
interest and appreciation (54 percent), and mutual support (28 percent).
• Men and women were also quite similar in their mention of physical contact (44 percent and 46 percent,
• Men were seven times more likely than women to mention sex
Sex and Physical Intimacy
• Early in heterosexual relationships, men and women are similar in how much sex and closeness they desire.
• Men’s desire for sex does not decline much as time passes, but their desire for closeness does (women are the
• Men are more likely to initiate sexual contact in their intimate relationships, and women are more likely to
refuse this contact
• Men’s sexual dissatisfaction in their marriage increases the chances that they will engage in extramarital
Relationship Dissolution and Its Aftermath
• Eventual marital disruption is better predicted by data collected from women than from men though this
disparity tends to weaken as spouses describe their relationship as less traditional and more egalitarian
• Women are more likely to want a divorce
• In dating relationships as well, women tend to be the “last in and first out,” whereas men tend to be the “first
in and last out”
• The period of greatest stress for women occurs before the relationship dissolves; for men, their stress peaks
after the relationship has ended
• Financial costs for women are offset by gains in well-being. This is why women fair better after a
• Men enter new partnerships more quickly, and in higher numbers, than do women
• The death of a spouse takes a greater toll on men than women, and this effect is stronger at older ages Gay and Lesbian Relationships
• Some people don’t label themselves as gay, straight or bisexual.
Similarities and Differences among gay, lesbian, and Heterosexual relationships
• These relationships are more similar than different.
• Because they value equality more and have fewer built-in power differences associated with their sex,
homosexual couples divide household tasks more equally than heterosexual couples do and they display
more effective problem-solving
• Contextual influences—that is, the forces existing beyond the partners and their interactions—shape and
guide our intimate relationships
• Have the challenge of discovering and establishing—for themselves and the people around them—that they
are homosexual and that their experiences in developing an intimate identity will take place outside the
• Once two homosexual partners are in a partnership, they may differ in the extent to which they have
informed others about their sexual orientation (Adds tension to the relationship)
• Homosexual people must come to terms with having a sexual orientation that can be the subject of scorn and
• Gay and lesbian couples are often deprived of even the simplest and most routine ways of expressing
intimacy in public, such as holding hands or kissing good-bye.
• Do not receive the same level of societal and familial support
• 1 in 3, report that their family or a member of their family has refused to accept them because of their sexual
• When gays and lesbians dissolve their relationships, they are more likely than heterosexuals to remain
connected to their ex-partner, to see them socially, and to maintain a friendship with them
Sexuality and Monogamy
• Regardless of sexual orientation, relationship happiness is higher when partners are more sexually active, and
sexual activity typically declines the longer a relationship continues
• Sexual activity is highest in relationships involving two gay men
• Gay men are more accepting of open or non-monogamous relationships and are more likely to participate in
• Sex is less frequent in relationships involving two women
• Same-sex relationships are more likely to dissolve than opposite-sex relationships, and lesbian relationships
are more likely to end than gay relationships
• Although a transformed legal status may well provide homosexual partners with new rights, “this group’s
lower exposure to normative pressure to maintain lifelong unions” may explain their higher dissolution rate
• If women actually are more attuned to the quality of emotional connections in their relationships and more
likely to take steps to end the relationship when problems arise, then we could predict that relationships
involving two women are more likely to end • Approach relationships with high standards because of the equality between partners, hard to meet those
Attraction: Why We Like Some People but Not Others
- Attracted to people who poses positive traits- dislike those with negative
- More attracted to good people than fun
- Pratfall effect: people were perceived as more attractive when they did a great job and were a bit clumsy-
Similarity: Liking People Who Are Like Us (pg. 205)
- How their qualities resemble our own qualities
- Phantom other technique: - in study when they have more things in common with that person they find them
- Similarity with beliefs and values, there isn’t much research done based on personality
- When it comes to personality; complementarity that matters not similarity
- Why? Smiliar people are validating, reinforce our beliefs and interests
- If they are similar to us, they are easy to get along with – less disagreements
- We expect them to be like us
Familiarity: Liking What We Know (pg. 208)
- Prefer stimuli we’ve been exposed to before
- Mere exposure effect: being exposed to something can make it instrincally enforcing
Reciprocity: (pg. 209)
- People report more likely for partners in studies if they have heard that person likes them too
- Not all liking is equally rewarded though; attraction is developed over time by actions
- Most liked when persons opinions started out negative but gradually won over
- The people who like us without knowing us are usually easy to please
PhysicalAppearance (Pg. 211)
- Dance study: college students randomly chosen to participate- after dance the only thing that predicted if
they would go out again: if they were perceived as attractive
- Doesn’t matter what they had in common/ values/beliefs
- Matching phenomenon: tendency for people to pair up with partners similar to them in appearance - More matching for people who assumed they’d be rejected
- Even least attractive people (indicated by themselves) wanted to date the most attractive people
- When looking for a real date some wouldn’t approach those that seemed out of their league
- When it comes to appearance there are countervailing forces; like rejection, desire for relationships that
create this matching phenomenon
Why Does it Matter?
- We tend to assume if they are attractive other aspects of their personality is as well
- In a number of ways beautiful people have it made easy;
- May lead attractive people to become more sociable
- People are more likely to lie about themselves when talking to attractive people
- No correlation between attractiveness and health
Long-Term vs. Short Term Relationships (pg. 219)
- Preferred: short term more based on appearance
- Strategic pluralism: idea that humans developed the capacity for short/long term relationships based on their
- Sexual strategies theory: predict what sort of qualities men and women are likely looking for in long/short
- Men and women can benefit from both types of relationships
- Men in short term relationships: low standards (less attractive, less intelligent) – traits that would seem
undesirable for a long term relationship
- Women in short term: looking for attractive, able to spend money on them,
- For long term relationships women are willingly to have a less attractive male, in exchange for dependable
- Men have high standards for long term relationships
Romantic Attraction and Situations (pg. 222)
- Shaky Bridge- when walking across males were approached by an attractive female who showed a picture,
and then gave her number inviting the men to call her later if they had any questions- same was done on a
- Males on the bridge: sexual theme stories, images, more likely to call woman back
- Misattribution of arousal: the fact that we make error in our judgement of what’s arousing us- men took
being scared by the bridge as attraction to the female
- Similar when closing time at the bar; individuals becoming gradually more attractive as the night goes on-
changes in themselves perceieved as more attractive - Men: higher standards at church vs. The bar
Unrequited Love (pg. 225)
- When we are romantically attracted to someone who is not attracted in return
- Rewarding for the lover in 3 areas;
- They believed the object was exceptionally desirable – capacity to reward is high
- They believed their feelings would eventually be returned
- Simply being in love was rewarding
- If they love faithfully enough- they will win the affection of the other person
- Stalking; college females being victims
Mate Selection (pg. 229)
- No relationship between what people say they want in a partner and what they actually go out and get
- In identitical twin study; others were not attracted to siblings spouse
- Partners must select each other ( not like clothing)
Proximity (pg. 232)
- On a campus study; the closer you lived, the more likely you were to form a friendship
- Likelyness of being friends rose from the distance of how far away your door was
- Simply have more opportunities to have interactions with each other
- Best known predictor for marriage: geography – tend to marry people who live close to home
First Moves: Signalling Availability and Interest (pg. 234)
- One person behaved indicating attraction
- “ I am here... looking for potential partner” – males act dominant (punching) or competence (games) –
females use sexual characteristics (makeup, hair, dressing)
- Women are more likely to participate in non-verbal behaviours
- Procepitivity; anticipatory behaviours
- And how women and men engage when in conversation
- Behavioural synchrony: people who are attracted to each other tend to mimic each other’s movements
- Use of nonverbal indications: relationships can be scary and dangerous, you don’t want to be rejected
- Nonverbal communication can send mixed signals Self- Disclosure: Knowing and Being Known (pg. 237)
- Social penetration theory: the development of a relationship is associated with the kind of personal
information they share
- Breadth: variety of materials discussed and depth: personal significance
- More likely to share personal info once someone else does
- Disclosure reciprocity: people share equally revealing things to each other
- The exchange of mutual disclosures appears to balance when sharing new information with a partner – they
both get to know each other better
- People who expose their information to early on in a relationship are seen more negatively OR if they expose
this information to everyone they meet
Courtship: Developing Commitment (Pg. 241)
- Staircase model: describe relationship forming in 5 steps. The first four; initating, experimenting,
intensifying, integrating = use of disclosure and the last step is family and friends who view the two partners
having formed a committed relationship and finally marriage
- Problem with the step system is relationships rarely work in stages, most have events that either increase or
decrease level of commitment (ie. Moving in together)
Abbreviation …IR= Intimate Relationship
IRs are defined in part by how partners treat one another, and many speculate that these behavioural
interdependencies emerge from personality characteristics that partners possess. And when two people join together
in a relationship their characteristics and individual histories BOTH combine to affect the path their relationship will
Personality- distinctive qualities that characterize an individual, that are relatively stable over time and across
situations, that have some coherence or internal organization to them, and that influence how the individual behaves
in and adapts to the world around them.
Lewis Terman - first to study the causes of relationship success and failure through the partner’s personalities and
temperaments in the late 1930s. Believed that the lacking qualities for compatibility in one or both partners was the
reason for unhappiness in a marriage.
His results were flawed however in the sense that personality and relationship data were taken at the same time-
therefore making them unclear of whether they were a consequence of the relationship quality or the reason for it.
Trait approach is used by researchers to study relationships (or anything else) to identify a core set of personality
traits by conducting extensive statistical analysis of adjectives people use to describe themselves or others.
Big Five Model of Personality- (consensus that 5 traits are needed to capture personality differences in people)
Neuroticism- inclination to experience unpleasant and disturbing emotions
Extraversion- preference for social interaction and lively activity Openness- receptiveness to new ideas, approaches and experiences
Agreeableness- selfless concerns for others; generous sentiments, trusting
Conscientiousness- degree of discipline and organization
Effects on Personality Traits on IRs
There are various ways that traits might affect IRs. Many findings linking personality to interpersonal functioning
concern traits that govern how emotions are experienced, regulated and expressed.
Even measures of personality taken in childhood contain information about our relationships later in life.
Children who display relatively frequent and severe temper tantrums before age 10 are twice as likely to divorce
compared to their counterparts with more even tempers.
Women also with more tantrums in childhood are more likely to marry men with lower occupational status.
Kids judged to be more aggressive at age 8 are also more likely to divorce.
Those who are relatively anxious, passive and prone to mood swings go on to have marriage with lower satisfaction
Even kids as young as 3 if judged to be “undercontrolled” (aka restless, impulsive, easily frustrated and moody) are
more likely to experience more turbulence in their relationships with others and more interpersonal conflict at age
21. As well as more problems in general and social difficulties.
Personality traits are relatively stable forces that operate continuously in the background in our relationships.
Personality traits seem to set the boundaries within which a relationship unfolds while also affecting the ways that
the two partners perceive and talk to one another.
Individuals high in neuroticism or negative affectivity (those who dwell on their own negative qualities as well
as those of others and the world in general) appear to be particularly vulnerable to poor relationships.
It was found in a study by Kelly and Conley that neuroticism in partners who were engaged to be married was
greater in those who went on to be unhappy in their marriage and in those who later divorced.
It was also found that unhappy spouses are more likely to proceed to divorce (rather than remain unhappily
married) when the husband was more outgoing and impulsive… When the husband’s have personality traits that
make them prone to engage in behaviours that undermine the relationship – such as drinking, infidelity, and financial
They concluded that “Neuroticism acts to bring about distress, and the other traits of the husband help to
determine whether the distress is brought to divorce or suffered passively (in a stable but unsatisfactory marriage).
Partners who are rated more agreeable or more conscientious tend to be happier in their relationships.
Personality factors appear to operate by determining the general range of functioning experienced in a
relationship. IE- couples with low levels of agreeableness and high levels of neuroticism tend to have lower levels of
satisfaction across time compared to couples with the reverse. Then, within this broad range of functioning, how well
the partners communicate with each other appears to determine whether their relationship deteriorates.
People low in agreeableness often complain about being treated with condescension and a lack or consideration.
Peps high in neuroticism are more likely to city self-centeredness, jealousy, and dependency as difficulties in their
relationship. Also they tend to interpret the partner’s negative behaviors in a more critical light than people low in
Individuals tend not to pair up with someone who has similar personality traits. More similar in terms of religion, intelligence and political stand point than personality traits. However, it is found that the MORE SIMILAR the
partners’personalities are, the HAPPIER the relationships are generally- particularly when they are similar in
agreeableness and openness.
But although there are associations between specific personality traits and relationship satisfaction, there is no
extra disadvantage to 2 neurotic partners compared to one neurotic partner; or nor does an extra advantage come
with two agreeable partners.
How does NegativeAffectivity Affect Relationships?
Murray’s Dependency Regulation Model demonstrates that individuals with low self esteem underestimate how
favorable their partner views them.
Definition-- a model addressing how individuals in IRs balance their desires for closeness to those of their partners,
with the recognition that intimacy also leaves them vulnerable to being hurt or betrayed. Applied to explain how
individuals with low self esteem may sabotage their relationships by underestimating how favorably their partners
4 PHASES- 1. Low Self- Esteem- chronic low self esteem creates difficulties for a relationship.
ex. constantly having to reassure low self esteem partner, low self esteem partner not taking compliments or
believing the person that’s saying them.
2. Underestimating the Partner’s Regard for Self- they assume that their partners do not regard them highly and
think that others hold the same pessimistic views. As a result they become overly cautious in their approach to
relationships- often to reduce risk of rejection- thus creating a distance that makes them even less likely to feel
secure with their partner.
3. Perceiving the Partner in an Unfavorable Light and Expressing Discontent – the mistaken belief that the
partner does not truly love them leads individuals with low esteem to look for evidence that their belief is true. At the
same time, tend to see rejection even where it does not exist and start to devalue their partner as a protective strategy.
They are more sensitive to threats in the relationship and express more anger and sadness after disagreements. These
usually escalate into arguments then.
4. Perceiving Relationship in Unfavorable Light – Murray found over a 12 month study of couples that partners
of people who were especially sensitive to rejection became less happy with the relationship as time passed…
How Early Experiences in the Family Affect Our Intimate Relationships-
Intimate bonds are fundamentally important to the welfare of individuals and to any children they might be raising.
The weakening and disruption of these bonds affects the development of children and their subsequent relationships.
Social scientists call the family you were raised in the family of origin. Intergenerational transmission effects refer to
the effects our family of origin has on who we are as individuals as well as on who we are as relationship partners
later in life.
Conflict and Divorce Affects in the Family
The experience of divorce differs for different individuals and families. There are 5 conclusions that has emerged
from research into the ways parental marriage and divorce affect individuals as they develop through childhood to
adolescence and into adulthood.
1. The adverse effect of divorce on children are evident in a range of domains, including- self- esteem, academic
achievement, conduct and behaviour, psychological adjustment and social relationships.
2. The magnitude of these effects can be interpreted in different ways.
On one hand, studies show that parental divorce approximately doubles the risk of adverse consequences among
their offspring. But this doesn’t mean that divorce = unhappiness in kids. Although 20-30 % of kids from divorced familes experience adverse outcomes, about 10-15 % of children from INTACT marriages also do… very similar.
3. Children are affected by divorce because the dissolution of marriage threatens the family’s economic
circumstances and parental mental health, reduces the amount and quality of contact the child has with one parent
(typically father or both), and makes the family vulnerable to new kinds of stresses.
Despite the best intentions, the quality of parenting often suffers following a divorce, and family instability increases
the chances that a child will not receive the monitoring, emotional support, and discipline that he/she needs.
4. Important to recognize that children can have difficulties in the absence of divorce and that high levels of conflict
between parents are often correlated with these effects.
Studies have shown that children exposed to higher levels of parental conflict in adolescence were lower in self-
esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction in early adulthood than those who experienced low parental conflict.
5. The well-being of adult offspring depends on a complex combo of whether the parents divorced and what the
marriage was like before that divorce.
Kids are better off when a highly conflicted marriage is terminated, but surprisingly, there are harmful consequences
of dissolving marriages low in discord. One explanation for this is “out of the blue” divorces that strike kids
particularly hard in the short term and undercut their willingness and capacity to develop trusting relationships in the
Children of Divorce and Their IRs
The understanding of intimate relationships begins not when two individuals meet, but when their parents meet and
create a new family.
Children of divorce show more caution toward marriage and more acceptance of divorce. There are many
differences between individuals about the after affects of divorce.
Because offspring from divorced family backgrounds are more likely to drop out of high school and are less
likely to attend college, they enter adulthood with fewer economic resources. Kids exposed to divorce and martial
distress also tend to have less fulfilling and supportive relationships with their parents, even later in life- father-child
relationships are particularly fragile.
Children of divorce experience more relationship distress and dissolution. Kids whose parents were unhappy in
marriage are likely to follow the same pattern. This tendency appears to be true regardless of parents’education,
income, religion, and whether they subsequently divorced.
The most compelling explanation holds that children learn about relationships from seeing how family members
relate to one another, so the interpersonal styles they learn while growing up carry forth into adulthood to affect later
intimate relationships. By observing and interacting with their parents and family members, children acquire
emotional and behavioural models that then generalize to relationships outside of the family.
It is suggested that individuals with risky family backgrounds seem particularly likely to benefit from early
educational programs designed to strengthen their communication for this reason.
How Early Experiences with caregivers Affect Our Intimate Relationships.
Attachment theory- an influential theory of IRs proposing that the relationships we form in our adult lives are shaped
largely by the nature of the bonds that we form with our primary caregivers in infancy and early childhood.
Attachment behavioural system- an innate, biologically based system that monitors and regulates the distance
between individuals and their attachment figures, motivating efforts to restore connection with attachment figures
when the relationship is threatened or temporarily disrupted.
In the first half of the 20 century, raising children with love and affection wasn’t viewed as important and beneficial to a child’s development. Instead it was believed that they should be raised to keep their emotions controlled and
their behaviour shaped through rewards and punishments.
The combined work of Harlow, Bowlby and Ainsworth proved the profound importance of care-giver child
attachments and to the enduring effects of these bonds on how individuals viewed themselves and others over the
course of their lives.
Children of any primate species are highly dependent on their caretakers for survival, and human infants take an
especially long time to develop from their state of high dependence to on of relative independence. The attachment
behavioural system operates to help ensure the developing child’s survival through this period by keeping the kid
close to the parent, according to the attachment theory.
The caregivers’presence and protection promotes experience of felt security and allows the child to explore and
At this point the attachment behavioural system prompts the child to evaluate whether it is possible to restore
closeness, with the caregiver. If it is possible, the system is said to be hyperactivated, leaving the child highly
vigilant for signs of threat and abandonment, highly active in mobilizing behaviours to signal and attain proximity to
caregiver and insistent that the attachment figure remains available.
If the child does not have the option of restoring proximity with the caregiver, then the attachment behavioural
system instigates deactivating strategies that turn off or inhibit the drive to restore closeness with the caregiver.
Inhibits emotional expression, and aims to distance him/her self from others.
Different caregivers and different children interact in different ways, and these interactions lead children to form
different impressions of themselves and others.
Bowlby claimed infants who are exposed to responsive caregivers (warm, and sensitive -esp when the infant
needs comforting) come to believe that they are worthy of love and attention of others and that others are generally
caring and dependable. Infants exposed to inconsistent or harsh caregivers who are controlling, unpredictable, or
overly intrusive in times of need- will come to believe the opposite.
Attachment theory states that, whether the positive or negative, these experiences are stored in working models
(internal psychological structures representing the conscious and unconscious beliefs, expectations, and feelings
people have about themselves, others and relationships).
These influence how new experiences in our relationships are selected, interpreted, and integrated into our sense
of who we are.
These can change based on the experiences we face. These experiences may result in generalized expectations
regarding the availability and support that others are likely to provide.
Adults differ along two main dimensions. One being the tendency to experience anxiety in the face of perceived
threats to the attachment relationship (this corresponds to the negative model of self) and the other being the
tendency for avoidance in the face of attachment- related anxiety. 1. Secure- positive view of themselves and others. Comfortable with closeness and intimacy. Value relationships but
they can maintain their sense of independence as well.
2. Preoccupied- positive view of others so they value closeness, but they have a low sense of worth, which leads
them to be chronically in anxiety. Come across as needy- depend on others to reassure them and fear rejection
immensely. Rejection would confirm their doubts about themselves.
3. Dismissing- have positive views of self, but negative of others. Do not dwell on rejection or experience
attachment- related anxiety. They tend to avoid closeness and minimize its importance.
4. Fearful- negative views of themselves and others- prone to avoiding intimacy and closeness. They want intimacy
and to feel appreciated by others and cast out their doubts because they believe they are unworthy, yet at the same
time, they struggle with the internalized sense that others are unlikely to provide the affirmation they need.
It is proven that people do in fact seek closeness with and benefit from attachment figures when they are
threatened in some way. Also individuals experience greater feelings of security in relationships when the partner is
viewed as more supportive and responsive. Research also supports the idea that attachment representations can
change when disruptions occur in the caregiver’s availability and behaviour.
How do Individual Differences in Attachment affect Intimate Relationships.
Many ways to interpret the same even, and these various interpretations can take our conversations down
different emotional pathways. Interpretations made by individuals with secure attachment styles will tend to
minimize the impact of negative events… and interpretations made by insecure individuals will magnify the impact
of these same events.
ex. Fearful people- typically offer the most pessimistic interpretations for relationship events.
People who typically keep tighter control over their emotions as a means of denying the importance of intimacy
( high in avoidance) experience less emotion in response to relationship events. Etc
People with a secure attachment in infancy have more secure friendships at age 16, and experience more positive
emotion in their intimate relationships and display less negative emotion when communicating with their partners by
People with a fearful attachment show opposite pattern- closing off contact and perhaps jumping to conclusions
about the relationships demise. Study shows that secure partners are more likely than insecure partners to signal their needs clearly, to expect that
the partner will help address these needs and to make good use of the partner’s efforts to help. They are also more
willing to help, show interest and display sensitivity to their partner’s distress.
Attachment theory predicts that when the relationship with the partner is threatened that individuals will naturally
signal needs for comfort and strive to maintain or restore felt security with the attachment figure… this is the case
with secure attachments, but not insecure sometimes.
Individuals prone to avoidance will adopt a defensive position, denying the need for support and using distancing
strategies to cope with their distress for example.
To test this Simpson assessed the attachment orientations of both partners in a study then told the female
member that they were going to be exposed to an anxiety and distressful situation. She was then escorted to a
waiting room where her partner was seated and their interaction was recorded while they ‘waited’.
It was found that a secure woman became more fearful of the experience, they were more likely to turn to their
partners for comfort and reassurance.
Avoidant women were less likely to turn to their partner for comfort and their anxiety and fear increased, and in fact
was less likely than the secure women to mention the impending stressful event to their partner at all.
It was also found that secure men have more support and reassurance to the partner the more her anxiety
increased, while support and reassurance diminished more and more from the avoidant men as the partner became
Addressing the role of personality traits in relationships allow us to focus on how characteristics, like
agreeableness, negative affectivity and self- esteem, can change the ways partners respond to one another.
Individuals cannot be understood without referring to the interpersonal relationships they have experienced in the
past or are experiencing in the present (relationship between the caregiver and child, family origin, and conflict
between the parents – divorce or not).
Communicating Closeness: How Intimate Relationships Are Maintained
Soldiers letter to wife
• Glimpse of intimate bond coupes have formed and forces that maintain them
• Relationships that man aspire to – full of: love, dedication, humour, trust, commitment, concern, kindness,
How Communication Promotes Intimacy
• Newfound love can be exhilarating – partners deepen their bond through shared activities, become
recognized as a couple by family and friends and ponder a possible future together – now it need to be
• Relationship maintenance refers to the routine behaviours and strategies partners undertake to help ensure
that their relationships will continue
o Involves taking steps that will keep a good relationship strong, avert declines or repair a struggling
one • How do couples maintain their relationship?
o Start with making revelations to one another – personal expressions and disclosures – and once
relationships has matured focus is on more expressions and discourse of daily life and future plans
o The key resides not simple in what one person reveals but in how the partner responds (see examples
p. 287 – Box 7.1)
How Expressions and Disclosure Maintain Relationships: The Intimacy Process Model
• The intimacy process model (proposed by Harry Reis and Philip Shaver) provides a framework for thinking
about intimacy in relationships – not in the sense that a relationship is wither intimate or not, but in the sense
that the everyday exchanges taking place between partners can be understood as wither maintaining or
thwarting the degree of intimacy in the relationship they have created
o Main components:
Expressions and disclosures
How partner perceives and responds to them
Judgments that disclosing individual then makes about him/herself and the relationship
o Intimacy is seen as a process – individual becomes to believe:
The partner understands core aspects of his/her inner-self, including important needs,
emotions and beliefs
The partner validates, respects, or otherwise ascribes value to these core aspects of one’s self
The partner cares for and displays concern for his/her welfare
(See p. 288 figure 7.2 for outline) (also shown in lecture)
o However, premature disclosures can be off-putting
Ex. Dishonest disclosures mislead others and fail to reveal who we truly are, and factual
disclosures reveal less than emotional disclosures about our inner self and hence afford fewer
opportunities for relationships to develop
o Inviting someone into our “zone of privacy” does not guarantee that they will accept or respond in
way we want
Our partners interpretive filter affects how he/she chooses to respond to our disclosures
Responsive disclosures can be understood through the words our partner says, how they are
said, and when they are said
For an individual’s behaviour to be viewed as responsive he/she needs to:
• Listen to the initial disclosure • Understand superficial meaning conveyed in disclosure and the more subtle meanings
that might be hidden within it
• Enact a sensitive response that reflects this understanding, perhaps including
questions that allow discloser to elaborate on his/her feelings and experiences
• Know whether, when and how to make the transition to another topic
The sensitivity and empathy our partner displays when responding to our disclosures hinges
on the interpretive filter guiding his/her responsiveness
• Filter itself is influenced by partners motives, needs, goals and fears
• Without responsiveness the chain breaks
o However, in the same way that an interpretive filer intercedes between the initial disclosure and the
partner’s response, so too does an interpretive filter come between the partner’s response and the
disclosing individual’s tendency to experience that response of validating, understanding and caring –
may be most important filter in the intimacy process – because our empathic behaviours will not lead
our partner to feel validated, understood, or cared for unless our partner encodes or experiences them
There is not always a simple correspondence between what we say and whether our partner
then comes to feel understood, validated and cared for
• This is because our partner views our behaviour through an interpretive filter, and this
filter itself is affected by his/her motivations, needs goals and feelings
o Interpretive filters are crucial in the intimacy process and to relationships generally
Research Findings of the Process of Intimacy
• Evidence supports intimacy process model
o Ex. Withdrawal and disengagement appear to be particularly detrimental to relationships, particularly
when one partner is expression feeling of vulnerability
o Ex. Increases in self-disclosure predicted increases in perceived partner responsiveness, which in turn
predicted increases in feelings of closeness
o Ex. Growing evidence suggests that motives, needs, goals and fears figure prominently in intimacy
process model and that they affect partners’disclosures and they ways they interpret one another’s
o Disclosure is not a uniformly beneficial experience, it seems
o It turns out that empathy is sometimes typical of relationships that are functioning well and
sometimes typical of relationships that are functioning poorly
Ex. Researchers showed that accurate (i.e. empathic) perceptions of one’s partner’s thoughts
and feelings can be costly if those thoughts and feelings might threaten or destabilize the
relationship somehow o Being able to accurately detect the partner’s potentially damaging thoughts and feelings can elect
behavioural responses that draw more attention to them, whereas glossing over them might
circumvent negative exchanges in the relationship
Summary of above on p. 293-294
Maintaining Intimacy – 5 Ways
1. Shared Activities
• As we become more familiar with our partner and more accustomed to our relationship we settle into
our own routines and the special glow we once experienced can diminish – “typical honeymoon-
o Self-expansion model: 2 assumptions: people naturally seek to increase their capacity and
efficacy as individuals to achieve their goals (“expand the self”) and intimate relationship are
a common way that individuals attempt to accomplish self-expansion
Relationships are marked by a merging of two individuals possessions, resources, and
o A key idea is that early on in developing relationships, partners typically disclose a lot of
personal information, feel an intense sense of connection, and wonder with excitement about
their future together – this cannot be sustained, however, an important transition occurs:
opportunities for further self-expansion tend to diminish and emotional highs (and lows) that
marked the initial phases of the relationships typically become more moderate (taking about
average couples, not all)
o Many couples need to find new ways to improve excitement and energy in relationship.
Short and long terms experiments where couples share novel, challenging and
Conclusion:All partners made judgements of relationships satisfaction only
those couples who participated together in the novel and exciting task
experienced an increase in relationship satisfaction. Additional studies
showed that activities like these also improve observed communication and
that novelty of these shared activity is the most important aspect in procuring
Another study found that exciting activities can produce reliable increases in
relationship satisfaction, even outside of laboratory settings and that these
effect is not due to the fact that couples may have found the exciting activities
to be pleasant as well
2. Social Support
• Intimacy process model
• Social integration – social ties and connections • Social support is conceptualized most generally as responsiveness to another’s needs and, more
specifically, as acts that communicate caring; that validate the others’worth, feelings or actions; or
that facilitate adaptive coping with problems through the provision of information, assistance or
• Supportive behaviours are indeed characteristic of more fulfilling relationships and are likely to be a
reliable way for partners to maintain their relationship
• Generally, a larger literature shoes that the support people perceive to be available to them tends to be
beneficial as they context with various stressors, whereas the support people actually receive is
sometimes beneficial and sometimes detrimental
o Visible support: support the recipient knows he or she has received (can be quite costly to the
o Invisible support: support the recipient does not notice (more beneficial to recipient’s
• “Broaden and build” theory – maintains that the experiences and expression of positive emotions
serve to (a) expand how we attend to, think about and respond to the countless events we encounter
in our daily lives; and (b) build or amass the resources – including physical health, intellectual and
creative capacities, spiritual connections, and social relationships – we need to maintain our well-
• Capitalization – the sharing of positive events in one’s life, builds personal and interpersonal
resources because it allows us to relive the events, to see that others are pleased for us, to connect a
given event with prior events in a relationship, and to experience ourselves being viewed favourable
o Hypothesized to yield important benefits
• Active-constructive response
• Passive-constructive response
• Active-destructive response
• Passive-destructive response
o Suggests that when positive emotions are met with active, constructive responses, then the
intimate bond between partners might be enhanced – at least in the shorter term, and perhaps
in the longer term.
o The failure to response to our partner’s everyday moments of satisfaction and triumph may
represent lost opportunities to strengthen these memories and maintain our relationships, and
responding passively or distractively may erode some of the goodwill we have established
4. Forgiveness • The person who has been wronged or let down must contend with the feelings stirred up by the act of
betrayal, with thoughts about the foundation and future of the relationship, and with choices about
whether to forgive the partner for the transgression (ex infidelity)
• For complete forgiveness to occur, motivations have to shift on the intrapersonal level (silent
forgiveness) and on the interpersonal level (hollow forgiveness)
o See “spotlight” p. 304
• Forgiveness is a challenge in intimate relationships because partners adopt biased perspectives about
• Forgiveness depends on 4 factors
o Relatively minor acts are more likely to be forgiven than more sever acts
o Victims who are generally more empathetic, agreeable, ad emotionally stable are more
inclined to be forgiving as well
o Apologies and expressions of remorse by the offender are likely to promote forgiveness,
apparently because they encourage the victim to empathize with the offender
o Forgiveness is more likely to the extent that levels of commitment and satisfaction are high
between the offender and the victim (a lot invested in relationship)
• Partners reporting higher levels of forgiveness also report more effective problem-solving skills, even
after adjusting for their overall level of satisfaction with the relationship
• Recent studies suggest that forgiveness for intimate betrayals progresses across 3 phases
o Impact stage – partner learns of the transgression and begin to recognize the effect it has on
them and their relationships
Great confusion and disorientations – filled with anger, recrimination and withdrawal
o Meaning stage – victim tries to make some sense of why the transgression happened
o Moving stage – the victim finds a way to adjust to and move beyond the incident
5. Sex and Physical Intimacy
Summary and Conclusion of chapter: p. 311-313
• Belief – an idea or theory about what the world is actually like (“couples who fight a lot are probably
• Value – an idea about what a person wants or what the wo