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October 2011



Recent Posts


By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor


Psychologist Jason Seidel, Psy.D, has heard partners lament all-too often: “This isn’t the person I married” or “I’m worried this person isn’t perfect for me.” And you know what? They’re probably right.

But there’s more to relationships than a partner who remains the perfect fit your entire life. Seidel explains more about the myth of the perfect partner and other relationship fantasies.


1. Myth: Your partner will always be the one.


Fact: There is no “once-and-for-all best match,” said Seidel, founder and director of The Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence in Denver. People and relationships rarely remain static. So that once great fit may “become broken, stale or wrong for [you].” In fact, according to Seidel, as you continue to grow in your life, you might even change who you’d pick as your partner.


A better way of looking at your relationship is to consider whether both of you are willing “to flex, experience, communicate and adjust.” More specifically, is your partner someone you “could struggle to reclaim or build a new way of connecting as [both of you] change,” and “would [you] want to?” Or “is this just great as long as things remain as they are (which they won’t)?”


Other important considerations are what both of you want out of the relationship and whether you’re on the same page when it comes to values and other key issues to you (an example would be having kids). Also, have you seen how your partner acts in a crisis? Do you trust each other? Do you know each other underneath your masks? Do you each honor who the other is?


2. Myth: It’s bad to have doubts before making a commitment or getting married.


Fact: “A lot of people have secret doubts that eat at them before and after the wedding or commitment about whether they are settling and should have held out for something better,” according to Seidel. But that’s not the point of commitment. Statistically speaking, “there is always someone better than your mate in some or even all dimensions of what attracts you or feels like the best fit.”


Also, having doubts is healthy, he said. That’s because “The older you get, the more you’re aware of the potential difficulties in relationships” and that relationships take hard work. The key is to consider if you can overcome these obstacles as a couple, respect each other’s differences and arrive at a compromise.


Couples run into trouble when they struggle with conflict, bury it or use other ways to distract themselves. In a healthy relationship “conflict is productive and mutually collaborative in terms of finding some way through it together,” Seidel said.


Read in Full:


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


While most of the time we try and stay positive here on World of Psychology, every now and again reality sucker-punches us back to our senses (although not personally affecting me).

The fact remains that despite our wise advice over the years, we haven’t budged the divorce rate in the U.S. (not that we thought we could!). Most relationships fail — there’s simply no way to argue with it.


So maybe it would help some of our readers to catch a sign of their failing relationship before it’s too late. Sure, we all would like to think that we could see the end of our relationship coming from a mile away. But truth is, many of us need a little help.


To that end, here are 8 ways you can bet you’re ruining your relationship and heading to splitsville.


1. Take your partner for granted.


There’s no better way to help hurry the end of the relationship than to just assume your partner is always there to make your life easier. Whether it’s by going to work or staying at home, cooking dinner or doing the grocery shopping, the ins and outs of our every day existence can take an especially hard toll when it comes to taking that special someone in our lives for granted.


Acknowledge your significant other’s efforts to your joint relationship and life together (no matter who is doing what). Say “Thank you” and “please” for being served something or for someone doing you a favor. After all, you wouldn’t treat a stranger in your home in that manner, so why would you treat the one you love any worse?


2. Stop talking.


Remember the start of your relationship? You couldn’t stop talking! You might’ve spent all night talking to one another, or countless hours on the phone or cuddled up on a couch somewhere.


Relationships die when the two people in it stop talking. And I don’t mean actual, physical talking (“We talk all the time!”). I mean the kind of real, honest conversations that couples have all the time at the beginning of a relationship, but which fade over time. Here’s help for improving your communication with your partner.


That fading is a natural progression in most relationships. The key is to not let that fading turn into never having those real conversations (which aren’t about the kids, your jobs, or what you read on TMZ today).


Read More …



Borderline Personality Disorder Challenges Relationships


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 19, 2008



A new study finds different patterns of brain activity in people with borderline personality disorder were associated with disruptions in the ability to recognize social norms or modify behaviors — factors that may result in distrust and broken relationships.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness noted by unstable moods, behavior and relationships. Each year, 1.4 percent of adults in the United States have this disorder,1 which is widely viewed as being difficult to treat.


Using brain imaging and game theory, a mathematical approach to studying social interactions, the NIMH-funded researchers offer a potential new way to define and describe this mental illness.


They conclude that people with borderline personality disorder either have a distorted sense of generally accepted social norms, or that they may not sense these norms at all. This may lead them to behave in a way that disrupts trust and cooperation with others. By not responding in a way that would repair the relationship, people with borderline personality disorder also impair the ability of others to cooperate with them.


Read in Full:


Married and Bipolar


By Sandra Kiume

NAMI has reprinted Beating the Marriage Odds, the cover article from the current issue of bp Magazine about marriage and bipolar disorders. With some statistics pegging the divorce rate of people with bipolar disorder as high as 90%, the article offers encouraging advice and models from couples that have stuck it out and learned to successfully cope with bipolar disorder in the marriage.
Read More …

Fear of Commitment in Relationships

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT Updated: Aug 23rd 2011

Commitment can be a scary word for some people because of the implications of what it means to commit. For many, commitment symbolizes loss, feelings of being trapped or controlled.



Committing to another person involves consideration of another person’s thoughts, feelings and needs which implies a loss of independence in activities and decision-making.



Ben loved his life, almost as much as he loved Gina. He loved sports, both watching and participating; music, he played in a jazz band; and time with the guys just hanging out.

Ben loved being with Gina as well. They were very compatible in so many ways. The only complaint that he had was that she seemed to want to restrict his time doing his own thing. Gina didn’t object to Ben’s regular Tuesday night band practices or his occasional weekend gigs. She did not object to his two baseball team commitments or season tickets with the guys during basketball season.

Read in Full:

Your Primary Spiritual Relationship – Love for Yourself

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT Updated: Sep 2nd 2011



Popular culture is focused on attracting love, yet you’ll only be able to receive as much love as you give to yourself. You’ll deflect or guard love that doesn’t resonate with you – like a compliment you don’t believe. The opposite is also true. You’ll allow others to abuse you a bit less than you abuse yourself. So if you desire lasting love, learn to love yourself, because your relationships will parallel your relationship with yourself. The subject of love interested me from an early age after reading Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. I was still young and unconscious of my feelings about myself. For years,the concept of loving myself eluded me.Like many on a spiritual path, I became very good at compassion for others, but had no idea what self-love meant. Little by little, I’ve learned that it starts with self-esteem, self-acceptance, and finally compassion and love – all of progressive stages.



Read More …


Marriage Is Good For Your Health

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 24, 2011



A new study discusses the health-related benefits that appear to be conveyed by being in a good relationship. Of interest is the discovery that the advantages of marriage are different for men and women.


In men, marriage appears to be linked to improved survival rates with the more satisfying the marriage, the higher the rate of survival.
As an example, University of Rochester researchers discovered happily married men who undergo coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years later as their unmarried counterparts.

The quality of the relationship is even more important in women. An unhappy marriage does not provide a survival bonus yet satisfying relationships increase a woman’s survival rate almost fourfold, the study found.

Read in Full:http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/08/24/marriage-is-good-for-your-health/28882.html


Study Offers Insight For Returning Troops And Their Relationships


Article Date: 02 Sep 2011 – 0:00 PDTTroops overseas often want nothing more than to get back home to loved ones – but the reunion period often can be more emotionally taxing than the deployment.

Returning service members are at a greater risk of both depressive symptoms and relationship distress, and research shows the two often go together, says University of Illinois researcher Leanne Knobloch (pronounced kuh-NO-block). That’s not a good thing, since someone suffering from depressive symptoms “really needs the support of their romantic partner.


In a study published in August in the Journal of Family Psychology, in a special issue on military families, Knobloch, a professor of communication, and co-author Jennifer Theiss, a professor of communication at Rutgers University, offer some advice for returning service members: Recognize the uncertainties you might have about the relationship and address them.


And anticipate sources of interference from your spouse or partner in everyday life and routines, and attempt to resolve them.


Those were two issues that showed up in their study as “mediators” linking depressive symptoms and relationship distress, Knobloch said.


Read in Full:


Higher Rate Of Extramarital Sex And Divorce Among Veterans


Article Date: 22 Aug 2011 – 1:00 PDTVeterans were significantly more likely to have ever engaged in extramarital sex and ever gotten divorced than people who were never in the military, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.


The study, based on data from a 1992 national survey, found that more than 32 percent of ever-married veterans reported extramarital sex, which is about twice the rate among ever-married non-veterans (16.8 percent).


“To the extent that the patterns observed in these data hold for our current veteran population, the results of this study provide evidence that the concerns about infidelity among spouses of persons who have served in the military are to a considerable degree valid,” said Andrew S. London, chair of the sociology department and a sociology professor at Syracuse University. “However, even though the reported rates of infidelity were significantly higher for veterans than non-veterans, extramarital sex was only reported by one-third of ever-married veteran respondents.”


Read in Full:


By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

“For many people, an affair is deeply traumatizing [and] some marriages can’t recover from it,” said Jason Seidel, PsyD, founder and director of The Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence in Denver. But if you decide to work on your relationship post-affair, you must accept a hard truth: Another affair can happen. This is the paradox of healing, Seidel said. Often, partners who’ve been cheated on will demand full access to their spouse’s email, cell phone records, Facebook and other accounts (or they’ll sneak around to get the access), he said. They see this as legitimate and essential to helping reestablish trust in the relationship. A common belief is “How could I ever trust you again unless you give me full access?”While this thinking is understandable, it simply doesn’t work.The real issue, at the core, is self-protection. Partners cling to the idea that if they have all the information and control enough of their partner’s life, they’ll somehow be spared another betrayal, Seidel said. (Some partners also will take this distrust into new relationships, where they automatically doubt the person and almost prepare themselves for infidelity, he said.)


Read in Full:http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/08/25/to-heal-after-an-affair-and-rebuild-the-relationship/

Are Pick-Up Tactics Sexy or Sexist?


Do pick-up tactics work on women?

Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor:As a social psychologist and dating expert, I have kept an eye on the pick-up community for years. Now, research is beginning to take a look too. An upcoming study in the journal Sex Roles has tested a subset of the more “assertive” techniques of the pick-up artist to evaluate whether some women like them and why some men use them.For my two cents, while I personally don’t advocate every single tactic employed by the pick-up artist, I do believe the overall message of empowerment and self-development for men is positive. Just like everyone else, men need to know they are valuable, lovable, and worthy of getting their needs met too – and sometimes they don’t know it. I also believe that finding love (and sex) requires a diversity of methods, depending on each person’s goals and desires. The techniques and tactics that work for some are useless or distasteful to others. The conclusion of the above-mentioned research appears to agree with me…

Read in Full:


Irresistible Neanderthals: Sex in Human Ancestry

Why are we fascinated by Neanderthal sex?

Canoodling. Nookie. Hanky panky. Dalliances. Hookups.Yes, it’s Neanderthal sex, again.Caveman’s Sexy Bonus, the UK’s Daily Express headlined their version of the story, summarizing the key points with a totally anachronistic set of images:

Cavemen made us healthier by having sex with primitive Neanderthals…One night stands between them and our ancestors boosted the human genome.here is something that the press cannot resist about the idea of sex between early modern humans and the human populations that preceded them in Europe and Central Asia.Even the less lurid news reports seem more focused on imagined sexual acts than on details about immunity and disease.Indeed, it was the original press release from Stanford University that introduced “canoodling” into the story. From the first sentence the tone is coy and teasing:

For a few years now, scientists have known that humans and their evolutionary cousins had some casual flings, but now it appears that these liaisons led to a more meaningful relationship.


Casual flings? One night stands?


Read in Full:



Why We Think Monogamy Is Normal


How polygamy became an “exotic exception.”

As I noted in my last post, the ethnographic evidence suggests that human nature is adapted to an ancestral mating system that was predominately polygynous (one husband, multiple wives). Most ancestral men aspired to polygyny (even though most weren’t impressive enough to attract more than one wife), and some ancestral women preferred to be the co-wife of a really impressive man than the sole wife of a second-rate one.In other words, the genetically encoded psychological machinery of human mating behavior was built by, and for, a world in which striving for polygyny was often reproductively advantageous. That’s why people living in modern societies often seem inclined towards polygyny, even in cultures that have attempted to abolish it.

Read in Full:


Why Don’t Women Flirt With Their (Own) Husbands?

Apparently Married Men Have To Give Up Being Flirted With

I was at a winery recently.As I was standing there [sipping some (quite honestly, not very good) wines], I noticed a couple across from me at the sipping bar.As I watched them, and observed how they were relating, I came to the conclusion that they were not married.I decided to go over and talk with them – just to confirm my suspicions.Eventually I got around to my point: “You aren’t married, are you?”After recovering from the oddity of the statement, they responded:”No.  But how could you tell?”All I was doing is observing how the woman was relating to the man she was with.It was the way she looked at him – with just a hint of coyness.  It was the (artful) playfulness as she glanced at him.It was the way she smiled at him - with a clear warmth and a slight glow.It was the way in which she nuzzled up to him – gently letting him know that she was happy to be with him.Bottom line — she was being flirtatious.Why would this flirtatiousness lead me to conclude that this couple was not married?

Read in Full:


Sexual Satisfaction Part of Successful Aging


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 25, 2011

A new study of older women finds that successful aging and a positive quality of life are linked to sexual satisfaction. Researchers at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego discovered successful aging, quality of life and sexual satisfaction continue to be interrelated even as the physical health of women declines between the ages of 60 and 89.The report is published online in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.Researchers reviewed self-reported information from 1,235 women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study.

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