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April 2011



Recent Posts


Forbidding Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Should you let your partner check other people out?
It’s no surprise that partners who are less interested in alternatives to their current relationship partners turn out to be more satisfied with those relationships . If you don’t think the grass is greener, then you won’t be as interested in hopping the fence. What might come as a bigger surprise are the findings of a group of psychologists at the University of Kentucky and Florida State suggesting how one should react to a partner whose eyes (and potentially, hearts) are wandering: let them ogle.

They root their theory in an old idea that has received strong recent empirical support: forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. When our desires are externally prohibited, desires grow stronger. Psychologists call this “reactance”. When prohibitions are imposed upon us we tend to interpret such impositions as an affront to our liberty. In response we come to value the forbidden more than we otherwise would. This is why we drive even faster than we were previously going after we pass by police cars on the highway. Police going to tell me how fast I can drive? I don’t think so.

Sometimes such prohibition can benefit relationships (e.g. Romeo and Juliet). But when you catch your boyfriend doing the old “oh I’m just stretching my neck” routine , how should you react? Scolding such action might make that passerby, and perhaps others as well, seem more desirable. This is the possibility the researchers sought to test.

They brought participants who were in relationships of over 1 month into the lab and told them they would be engaging in a timed categorization task. A letter (E or F) would appear on the screen and they were to press the corresponding key as quickly as they could on the keyboard. Simple enough. But before the letter appeared, two pictures (one of an attractive opposite-sex person and an average looking opposite-sex person) were flashed on the screen, and then the letter appeared in the same location as one of these pictures. In the experimental condition, the letter appeared in the location of the average-looking picture 80% of the time, subtly directing participants’ attention towards those pictures (and away from the attractive alternatives), while in the control condition letter placement was random. Now, having limited participants’ attention away from the hotties, how would participants judge the quality of their actual relationships?

Read in Full:


Want a Happier Marriage? Unrealistically Idealize Your Partner

By John M Grohol PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

If ignorance is bliss, then delusion is even better — if you’re in a new marriage, anyways.

So says new research from investigators at the University at Buffalo, who examined 193 newly-married couples over three years to see what kinds of variables might predict greater marital satisfaction.

How could this be? Weren’t we always told the common wisdom — that we needed to be realistic in our relationships, and not look for that Knight in Shining Armor who comes to our rescue (or a Maiden trapped in a castle tower who needs rescuing)?

Apparently the common wisdom may need to be revisited, because continuing to idealize your partner long after the glow of the wedding fades away seems to help keep you happy.

Read on to learn more…


The Forbidden Fruit in Relationships

By John M Grohol PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

A long-term, stable romantic relationship with a committed, caring partner has many psychological benefits, which we know from the oodles of psychological research published about them. So it’s a good thing to try and protect one’s relationship from external influences. One of the most difficult to recover from and damaging influences is cheating.

If cheating will harm a relationship (and cheating appears to be one of the primary reasons cited in many, if not most, relationship breakups), what can be done to minimize it?

After all, isn’t it human nature — and the nature of temptation — to constantly look for desirable alternatives?

One of the ways people look to protect their long-term relationship is to simply remain inattentive to those alternatives. Research has demonstrated that being inattentive to attractive members of the opposite sex generally promotes relationship success.

But new research (DeWall et al., 2011) suggests it’s not so simple. If the circumstances or situation implicitly limit a person’s attention to an attractive alternative, that alternative suddenly becomes “forbidden fruit.”

And all that more attractive.

The researchers call this the “forbidden fruit hypothesis,” based upon previous research that has demonstrated that people find things more desirable when they off-limits or forbidden. There’s something in human nature that wants what it can’t have. (Or perhaps we can have it, but with serious consequences.)

This hypothesis is consistent with another psychological theory called the “ironic process model.” This model suggests that suppressing thoughts about something will lead that thing to become even more salient. The more we try and not to think about something, the more we think about it.

To test their forbidden fruit hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of three experiments involving undergraduate students.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/04/08/the-forbidden-fruit-in-relationships/

A General Theory of Love, Part 2: The Science of Attraction

By Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.
Ask the Therapist

“When love is not madness, it is not love.”
~Pedro Calderon de la Barcaa

“Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.”
~Henry David Thoreau

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
~Zora Neale Hurston

To be loved means being free to be yourself in the presence of another person.  It is the mutuality of this experience that we each crave.  Somehow we know when it is near, and ache when it is lost. We have all had it: the look, the feeling, and the sense of awe in the presence of the person we are attracted to.  But is it more than just the infusion of the catecholamine neurotransmitter, dopamine, or the mammalian hormone oxytocin?


Proof Positive

You most likely know that the limbic system is the seat of emotions and it regulates the type, degree and intensity of our feelings.  But what you may not know is your limbic system may be trying to detect whom you will love, and who will love you back. Limbic resonance is a term used to describe the feeling of attraction to another.

From the book A General Theory of Love the authors define the term:

Read More …


The Myth of Closure: We Can Heal Without It

Bob Livingstone, LCSW Updated: Apr 18th 2011

We are brainwashed by television and movies at a very young age that there is a glorious, happy ending at the end of every story. This phenomenon instructs us that our lives should always include happy endings. We are taught that anything less than total fulfillment and smiles all around amounts to dismal failure. We are taught this concept called closure. It is a term used often in contemporary media and it means to heal a personal loss or trauma such as death of a loved one, being abused by a parent or being a child of an alcoholic parent. After this process, we are supposed to ride off into the sunset with this emotional pain never darkening our door step again.

Well, this is actually impossible to accomplish unless you get total amnesia. If you have the expectation that you will not have any sad or frightening memories about this trauma once you have believed you have fully healed, you will find yourself deeply disappointed and frustrated.

Memories and feelings about the trauma are likely to come up from time to time. Just because the memories continue to arise don’t mean that you haven’t worked through your issues. It only means that as humans; memories and feelings will continue to move in and out of our awareness unless you are deeply repressing them. Repression is not a useful or helpful tactic unless you are in a situation where pushing away memories and feelings is the only way to survive.

Read in Full:


Snow White Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Laughter, Pleasure, Malice, and the Pursuit of Adult Fun

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